All about cycling in the Netherlands
Last Sunday, 19 April, I visited the International Cargo Bike Festival in Nijmegen. That was the closing day of the fourth edition of this annual festival. The ICBF in Nijmegen is the biggest platform for cargo bikes and cycle logistics in the world. The festival is organised by Jos Sluijsmans of Fietsdiensten.nl. On Saturday there had been a conference, that was attended by people from 17 different countries. All professionals in the field of cargo deliveries by bicycle. They had come together to exchange their innovative ideas and to present their products. The list of companies included multinationals such as DHL and UPS.
One of the keynote speakers made headlines in the Dutch press. Professor Kevin J. Krizek from the University of Colorado was introduced to the general Dutch public as Visiting Cycling Professor of the Radboud University of Nijmegen. That a US citizen was asked to be the first Dutch cycling professor raised quite a few eyebrows. There was a debate on Twitter in which people questioned whether this was the right man for the job. Kevin’s quotes in the newspaper were indeed not exactly a testimony of his academic background. But he has also written a piece himself (over a year ago!) that makes quite clear that it may not be so strange after all. Pascal van den Noort from VeloMondial introduced a nice metaphor. “The Dutch know as much about cycling as a fish knows about the water it swims in”. So that’s why we’re having a foreigner to examine the water in our bowl. (See my later update below for even more about Kevin Krizek.)
Cargo Bike Parade through Nijmegen
Sunday traditionally starts with a cargo bike parade from the main square in the historic city centre of Nijmegen to the festival area. I had never participated in the parade before, so that was a good enough reason to have it in my post today. Literally at the stroke of 12, when the bells of the Nijmegen cathedral chimed, the long and very diverse and colourful parade started.
The parade drew a lot of attention and many a resident was looking out of the window to study all the different forms of cargo bikes and bicycles to transport people. Some were home-built by enthusiasts, but other vehicles were very innovative for professional users.
The parade ended at the festival area where stands from a wide range of producers made it possible for visitors to try and test cargo bikes to see which would fit their personal needs best. There were a lot of other nice activities as well. Children could use a pedal powered painting device to create their very own painting. There were food stands on cargo bikes from which you could get coffee, freshly pressed orange juice, poffertjes (mini pancakes), pizzas and there even was a pedal powered merry-go-round for toddlers. During the day there were also several slow biking contests.
Video showing the fair of the Cargo Bike Festival
It was interesting to see the amazement of some foreigners, one of which exclaimed: “Wow a children’s e-bike”. That wasn’t the only outstanding children’s bike. What about a mini cargo bike? The boy riding it couldn’t get enough of it.
I went on a guided bicycle tour with Sjors van Duren who works for the Province of Gelderland as a traffic and transport advisor. With a small group we agreed to change the announced tour and cycled to the nearby town of Beuningen, using two different branches of the fast cycle route from Nijmegen to this town. It was a very interesting tour that I will try to write a separate post about. When we returned after almost three hours the little boy was still cycling on his mini-cargo bike! It was a great weekend. The weather was excellent and meeting a lot of people who are enthusiastic about (cargo) bikes made it a very attractive festival.
Dutch national television broadcast an item to introduce Cycling Professor Kevin Krizek to the Dutch general public. I subtitled the parts in Dutch with English subtitles.
News item by television news show “Een Vandaag”. I only added the subtitles in English.