Riding in Autumn
Billet en français
Autumn is the time of year associated with decay, with rain and wind, but when the sun is out, shining from just over the horizon, on the leaves in many shades of red and brown, then everything gets a golden glow. On one such sunny Autumn afternoon, on a Sunday early November, I decided to film the people passing by on their bicycles.
You can’t really tell whether this elderly couple has been shopping (because of her panniers) or if they have been out enjoying the sun on a leisurely cycle tour. Either way they look like they’re having a good time.
In the north of ʼs-Hertogenbosch there is a city park that was constructed in the late 1980s. Although it is a young park in a relatively newish part of the city the trees are fairly mature now. The trees have more than enough coloured leaves to filter the bright and low sun so that everything seems to be bathing in a golden light. The main north-south cycle route in the city passes through this park. I positioned myself on an embankment a little bit higher up than the surroundings and many people passed me by on their bicycles. Some had clearly been shopping in the city centre, some were just out to enjoy the sun while riding the bicycle. The video shows how relaxed most people cycle and what a lovely afternoon it was for most of them. I hadn’t looked at people cycling for a while on my blog so it was about time to do so. Cycling is not only about big bridges or cool underpasses it is also about trusting that everything is safe enough to just go out on your bicycle and enjoy yourself.
Dutch mothers are wizards on bicycles. Not only is she hauling groceries on this bicycle with her two children, but because her youngest has fallen asleep she makes sure the kid’s forehead is safely resting on the palm of her hand, not on the hard part of the handlebars. All that while making a good speed.
This is why the Dutch find cycling side by side so important. Yes, you can then cycle next to your child to protect it, but it may be equally rewarding to cycle next to your lover, while holding hands!
E-bikes are no longer only for the elderly. These youngsters both have an e-bike and they are masters in handling these bicycles. Demonstrated while taking some bends: they cycle so close together that their handlebars are almost touching.
Some younger children were cycling on their own. Bicycles and the ability to use them unsupervised give young children an incredible freedom to roam their surroundings. That freedom is nicely portrayed in this image.
So you want to make it harder, you want to do a bit of training, going a bit faster than everybody else? Sure why not, it was a perfect afternoon for it. But my back and neck ache just watching this.
The contrast with the previous picture couldn’t be bigger. This elderly gentleman has done some errands. It looks so much more relaxed to sit upright on a bicycle.
It was interesting to see that the golden sun made people’s hair look different. The Dutch aren’t exactly known for their red hair, but in this light many more people appeared to have a red shine in their hair.
The boys upfront have missed the memo. It has been illegal to hold an electronic device (phone, camera, game computer) while riding since the 1st of July 2019. ʼs-Hertogenbosch was one of the cities where most fines were issued (together with Utrecht and Amsterdam, so I’d better be careful too, those are the three cities I most frequently visit…) All four seem to have red hair. That is highly unlikely in The Netherlands. Must be the sun…
Letting a bag dangle on your handlebars like that is also officially illegal, but that seems to be mostly unknown. Many people do that.
So many couples were underway that I almost thought “haven’t I seen these people before?”, but no, they are a different couple than the one on the first picture in this post.
This gentleman took off one glove, just as I started filming him. He then puts it in his mouth and cycles on. People sometimes do that when they need one hand to do something, but he just cycled on. No idea why.
I keep telling you cycling is relaxed. This girl underlines it really is. Look where she put her feet!
Another mother with a child. Another person who seems to have red hair. Is it just the sun?
A wider shot to show the park. Clearly visible is how far apart the places for walking and cycling are. Conflict between the two was designed out like this.
My video for this week: watching people cycling in a park in autumn.