A Tale of Two Wheels: Chapter 2 - The Breakdown
By Andrada Pop | March, 03, 2021
Illustrations by Anabella Villanueva
Back with the next installment of her biking series, University Reporter Andrada Pop warns of the dangers that come with biking through volatile Dutch weather conditions.
If you’ve ever biked in Amsterdam during the winter, you’ll agree that it’s a far cry from those blissful summer days biking through Vondelpark. This season is the worst time to venture outside on your bike. The combination of the cold, wind and rain (let alone the formidable snow) means that you can’t help but think that the universe is out to get you.
On top of all this, bicycle enthusiasts have another thing to worry about: accidents. While the number of bikers with serious injuries has increased by 30% in the last decade, minor injuries and bike damages are also common occurrences to watch out for.
Sometimes no one is to blame for an accident. The hazardous driving conditions, poor visibility or a sopping wet raincoat caught in the back wheel can spell out doom for an untrained biker. I speak from experience.
A story of icy roads, murderous shoelaces and a ruined lunch
One winter afternoon, I was biking my way through the wind and fog of Amsterdam. As I passed through Nieuwmarkt, I noticed the wind sweeping sideways on the bike lane.
“Nothing to worry about, just have to be a little more careful,” I told myself.
Have you heard of Murphy’s Law? That anything that can go wrong, will go wrong? That’s exactly what happened here. When a particularly strong gust of wind blew from the right, my left shoelace got stuck in the pedals of the bike, sending me toppling down and the lunch I had carefully prepared flying into the middle of the bike lane.
Once down, however, I couldn’t get up. My left leg was trapped under the bike, tied to it in an unbreakable knot. Pushing, pulling and reaching down to untangle the shoelace were all out of the question.
As I lay there staring sadly at the sight of fish and broccoli smashed into the concrete, I thought to myself: “Is this how it will all end?”
It did end, but fortunately not like that. A friendly cyclist came to my rescue, trying to lift the bike off me and failing. After I had told her what had happened and suggested how best to help me (although I was in no position to give these suggestions) I was set free.
I thanked my saviour profusely while she looked at me puzzled, as if she couldn’t tell what mix of alcohol and drugs could have led to this situation. I couldn’t have told her either. It was the work of Mother Nature who clearly wanted me to be late for my classes.
What can you do?
Luckily, my accident had no major consequences (if we disregard my lunch), and relative to other cases like this I got off quite lucky. Here’s what you can do if you find yourself in trouble like me.
For the bike, the answer is easy: bike insurance. Over 80% of the claims for bike insurance are a result of small incidents leading to damaged parts. A good enough reason to insure your bike.
For the biker, things get a bit more complicated. Almost no one in Amsterdam wears protective gear. While that may seem surprising, it is indicative of the safety bikers enjoy here. The chances of a biker getting hit by a car (by far more dangerous than a shoelace) are minimal. It seems that safe biking practices are just as useful here as protective gear in keeping you safe.
So, learn from my mistake. Wear shoes that will not betray you in your quest for success and don’t leave your casserole in the bike basket.
If you have a story to share on the topic of biking in Amsterdam, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your tale might be featured next in the series!
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