Tag Archives: cycling

A load of cobblers

The Dutch, I gather, don’t have a specific word for ‘pothole’ because, well, they don’t need one. Having just returned from a two-week campervan tour there, I don’t think I saw a single one. I knew I was back in Blighty yesterday evening, though, when I had to swerve to avoid them before I even left Harwich ferry port. The UK now reminds me of a saying from my childhood (the first few years of which were spent in Africa):

“Which side of the road do they drive on in Kenya?”
“The best side.”

One thing that struck me immediately in the Netherlands, that I hadn’t noticed on previous visits, was that in cities, towns and villages, much of the ground is paved, bricked or cobbled, rather than tarmacked. This extends not just to driveways, footpaths and pedestrian areas, as we might do here, but to pavements, cycle lanes and many of the roads.

I include a few random holiday snaps (click for larger versions) which just happen to feature them, but, in truth, they are everywhere. (I guess ‘paved’ is usually a better description than ‘cobbled’ for what I saw in most places, but doesn’t make for such good blog post titles.)

I think they look much more attractive than our usual tarmac, water drains off promptly, and they are, of course, well-maintained, meaning they are generally pleasant to cycle on as well. (Though I can’t deny that their tarmacked cycle lanes, not being maintained by British workmen, are an even nicer ride.)

I wonder about the economics of this. Paving is presumably rather more expensive, initially, but may reduce the need for drainage irrigation. An installation probably wouldn’t last as long as tarmac, but when it does go wrong, it can be quickly and cheaply fixed. As I was looking for a parking spot in a residential area of The Hague, for example, one street was closed off as they were re-laying a large section of the nice herringbone bricks. When I returned after lunch, they were gone, and the street looked pristine.

My friend Pauline, who lives in Utrecht, commented wryly that the main effect was to prevent women from wearing high heels! I confess this wasn’t a problem I had considered. But then there are many aspects of paving I had never considered, like the fact that there might be a Worshipful Company of Paviors.

I wonder what their take would be on the current state of British vs. Dutch roads…

Well, I finally folded…

I’ve wanted an e-bike for ages, ever since I first tried one many, many years ago, but most of my normal cycling destinations are close enough that I didn’t really feel I had an excuse to buy one.

But then we started to think that folding bikes would also be useful when campervanning, and so the idea started to grow of getting folding e-bikes… and we are now the proud owners of two Eovolt “Afternoon”s.

Interestingly, we just rode these and found we liked them slightly more than the others we tried, but when we got them home and started looking for reviews, accessories, etc found they seemed to have comparatively little presence online (at least, in the English-speaking world). I certainly hadn’t come across them on YouTube, for example, when researching possible brands. So here’s my modest attempt at rectifying that!

Not Just Bikes

A friend of mine, who hails from Ontario originally, has lived in many cities around the world. I haven’t seen him for some years, so I didn’t know that he had moved to Amsterdam, but I also didn’t know that he’s started a YouTube channel about why, having lived in London, Toronto, Taipei, San Francisco and numerous other places, they liked Amsterdam the best, and asking the question what makes a city great?

It’s called Not Just Bikes, and I think he does a really nice job, which explains why he has also amassed a significant following.

Here’s a short example:

And another:


Don’t park your bike or chariot here

Spotted this wonderfully-Cambridge sign yesterday:

I’ve never studied Latin, but I think I can make out enough; it says something like ‘Two wheels, that have been left here, will be destroyed’.

Can anyone translate the Greek? I presume it says much the same.

Actually, the first dictionary I looked at listed perimo as ‘to slay, destroy‘, and I rather like the idea that Cambridge streets are kept in order by The Slayer of Bicycles…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser