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'How I Learned to Cycle Like a Dutchman'

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'How I Learned to Cycle Like a Dutchman'

Old 09-13-19, 05:59 PM
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Arthur Peabody
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'How I Learned to Cycle Like a Dutchman'

Dan Kois, his wife and their 2 daughters, learn how to bicycle in the Netherlands, Delft.
The eighteen million residents of Holland own, in total, more than twenty-two million bicycles.
"Where are our helmets?" my daughter Harper asked. ... "We didn't buy any, In the Netherlands, only tourists wear helmets." I replied
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/pe...ike-a-dutchman from The New Yorker
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Old 09-13-19, 07:12 PM
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'How I learned to comment on Cycling as an American:"

Focus on helmets. I think the important difference is not helmets, but the bigger picture of overall safety. Here's what caught my eye:

a gigantic roundabout, at the Delflandplein, that capably handles bicycles, cars, express buses, and the tram to The Hague. It’s a masterpiece of boring urban design. Even though thousands of cars and bikes pass through the roundabout every day, there were zero crashes reported there between 2014 and 2017.


In contrast, there are intersections in my town that have dozens of accidents per year at intersections that local cyclists scrupulously avoid. The Dutch have made cycling safer because they've made all transportation safer. Their cyclists are doubtlessly more skilled and experienced on average, but their motorists are more skilled too.
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Old 09-13-19, 07:17 PM
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here we go
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Old 09-13-19, 07:49 PM
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It's all a big lie-- everyone knows the Dutch wear wooden helmets.
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Old 09-13-19, 11:03 PM
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Much as I'd like to see the US become a more sane and civil place to share roads, it won't happen like the Netherlands and other parts of Europe.

Americans are much more inured to death. Culturally Americans value notions of personal liberty over responsibility and civility. We seem to regard deaths and injuries as acceptable collateral damage in exchange for pursuit of some vague notions of freedom. Merely suggesting a discussion of ways to reduce deaths and injuries due to violence, negligence and risky consumption will invariably generate outraged cries likening even a hint of self constraint as akin to (insert favorite hyperbolic political epithet here).

On the plus side, cycling is safer in Texas now than I was in the 1970s-'80s, the last time I'd tried to bike commute here before trying again in 2015. It took awhile and some gradual, incremental applications of social nudge policies. Americans may grumble about the nudge approach, but they don't dig in their heels and respond irrationally as they do toward suggestions of sweeping changes including "Don't kill each other." Americans prefer "Don't kill each other... needlessly."
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Old 09-13-19, 11:25 PM
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Open carry a 1911 and two mags and people will give you a wide birth and the rednecks will honk in delight. Put a do not tread on me snake on your jersey and your are golden with the PU truck crowd. All is good in 'Murika, just got to know how to fit in, some of my countrymen are still trying to figure it out apparently. Works for me.
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Old 09-14-19, 08:57 AM
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Along the dark green Wijnhaven canal, confident Dutchmen and Dutchwomen whizzed around, their blond heads exposed to the soft northern sun.
I couldn’t be lean and blond, but I could bike as if I were. I could ride tall in the saddle, with the self-possession of a Dutchman with sharp, visible cheekbones
Is this article edited by someone who thinks the Netherlands is in Scandinavia, and has some fantasy about aryan purity or something? The Netherlands and espcially Delft aren't very blond. What's the angle there?

Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Much as I'd like to see the US become a more sane and civil place to share roads, it won't happen like the Netherlands and other parts of Europe.

Americans are much more inured to death. Culturally Americans value notions of personal liberty over responsibility and civility. We seem to regard deaths and injuries as acceptable collateral damage in exchange for pursuit of some vague notions of freedom. Merely suggesting a discussion of ways to reduce deaths and injuries due to violence, negligence and risky consumption will invariably generate outraged cries likening even a hint of self constraint as akin to (insert favorite hyperbolic political epithet here).
I'm one of the last to deny the influence of culture, but that's not the whole story. There are rules and there is order, there is for example no good reason that cars on the highway can overtake on any lane. When you'r only allowed to overtake on the left you get slow lanes and fast lanes, which is much more efficient and safe. That seems just sloppy from government and legislaters to me.
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Old 09-14-19, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
Is this article edited by someone who thinks the Netherlands is in Scandinavia, and has some fantasy about aryan purity or something? The Netherlands and espcially Delft aren't very blond. What's the angle there?
I wouldn't read too much into the use of physical descriptions by some writers. It's a trap that many journalists fall into when trying to enliven a story. I did it as a newspaper reporter in the 1980s. We'd try to get the reader into the story by describing physical appearances, or manners of speaking. Occasionally a copy editor would discuss some rewrites with me to avoid descriptions of appearances or communication styles that could be interpreted as racist or stereotyping. By the 1980s most newspapers were avoiding the use of *sic* to denote literal transcriptions of oral statements that departed from conventional grammar and syntax. Instead we paraphrased and reconfigured statements to be conventionally correct in grammar and syntax, rather than using direct quotes. This often made Texas politicians sound more articulate than they really were.

If you dig around the internets there's a story about musician Brian Eno from 1974, written by Chrissie Hynde before she formed The Pretenders. In it Hynde describes a woman who apparently worked for Eno as a "negress." Even at the time that term would have been considered inappropriate by most publications. The only time I've seen that word used since was in literal translations of some Cajun and Zydeco songs, with lyrics written decades before.

Nowadays most journalists are taught to avoid these traps. But the stories often leave the subjects as cyphers, blanks, stick figures.
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Old 09-14-19, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Loose Chain View Post
Open carry a 1911 and two mags and people will give you a wide birth and the rednecks will honk in delight. Put a do not tread on me snake on your jersey and your are golden with the PU truck crowd. All is good in 'Murika, just got to know how to fit in, some of my countrymen are still trying to figure it out apparently. Works for me.
I sometimes wonder whether Texas drivers are more considerate toward cyclists now because cycling is more popular, thanks in part to Lance Armstrong, or because everybody might be packing a gat.
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Old 09-15-19, 02:56 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I wouldn't read too much into the use of physical descriptions by some writers. It's a trap that many journalists fall into when trying to enliven a story. I did it as a newspaper reporter in the 1980s. We'd try to get the reader into the story by describing physical appearances, or manners of speaking. Occasionally a copy editor would discuss some rewrites with me to avoid descriptions of appearances or communication styles that could be interpreted as racist or stereotyping. By the 1980s most newspapers were avoiding the use of *sic* to denote literal transcriptions of oral statements that departed from conventional grammar and syntax. Instead we paraphrased and reconfigured statements to be conventionally correct in grammar and syntax, rather than using direct quotes. This often made Texas politicians sound more articulate than they really were.
I understand he wants to paint a picture and I really don't mind a little stereotyping. But this just can't be what he has observed, and together with the emphasis on Delft's medieval origin it's rather a picture of a quaint ethnic microcosmos than that of a very modern multicultural international little city. Is it an article about an example of modern urban life in a globalized world, or more like an National Geographic journalist discovering an isolated tribe with a funny cycling habit? It's actually quite a good article because it tells how it works and what makes it work other than just infrastructure, but then actively disconnects it from it's readers' environment. If he wanted to make the point 'we can have this too' he could have emphasized the thousands of foreigners (university mainly) who join in (not always seamlessly), no to mention the many thousands more with an immigration background and the fact that the native Dutch aren't that blond to begin with. So my question wasn't really about white supremacy or the writer's fascination with blond hair and sharp cheekbones (which is fine as a personal matter), but whether it's an article advocating cycling or not. That's why I question the angle.

Here's an advocacy video about Delft. Count the blonds.

If you dig around the internets there's a story about musician Brian Eno from 1974, written by Chrissie Hynde before she formed The Pretenders. In it Hynde describes a woman who apparently worked for Eno as a "negress." Even at the time that term would have been considered inappropriate by most publications. The only time I've seen that word used since was in literal translations of some Cajun and Zydeco songs, with lyrics written decades before.
Isn't this also a matter of 'two nations divided by a common language', as Hynde is British too? It's often hard to keep up with America's sense of what is inappropriate, which can be problematic because of Americans' tendency to consider American issues universal issues. Even today a lot of Europeans are surprised they're not supposed to use MLK's terminology anymore.

Nowadays most journalists are taught to avoid these traps. But the stories often leave the subjects as cyphers, blanks, stick figures.
I understand, and it's hard to go wrong with blond. It's not that I take offence other than it's just not reflecting reality. But if there are that many traps created that you can't have colourful descriptions, you can wonder whether there's a desire to get people trapped.
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Old 09-15-19, 03:24 AM
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'How I Learned to Cycle Like a Dutchman'
Smoke some weed, ride a 55 pound dutch bike at 3 miles per hour. No helmet required.....it's just slightly faster than walking.
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Old 09-15-19, 03:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
...Isn't this also a matter of 'two nations divided by a common language', as Hynde is British too? It's often hard to keep up with America's sense of what is inappropriate, which can be problematic because of Americans' tendency to consider American issues universal issues. Even today a lot of Europeans are surprised they're not supposed to use MLK's terminology anymore.

I understand, and it's hard to go wrong with blond. It's not that I take offence other than it's just not reflecting reality. But if there are that many traps created that you can't have colourful descriptions, you can wonder whether there's a desire to get people trapped.
Chrissie Hynde is from Ohio, but she lived and worked in England for years so when I saw her perform live in the 1980s and saw her in interviews she spoke with that hybrid style many folks adopt after living in another part of the world for awhile.

And, yup, Americans and Europeans differ quite a bit in some respects, despite global communication making us somewhat more familiar to each other. Americans in general are baffled by Zwarte Piet, as blackface and anything resembling it has become a cultural taboo here. In some instances -- often overblown by pop culture media -- there are daily doses of micro-outrage over "cultural appropriation," including Mattel introducing Dia de los Muertos Barbie, and even when Americans create activities called "beer yoga" and "puppy yoga". As a mixed race/religion all-American mutt, my threshold for outrage is pretty high so I shrug off most such outrage-bait. But I can understand why some folks find it offensive, even if I don't join them in virtue signaling via social media reposts.
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Old 09-15-19, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
As a mixed race/religion all-American mutt, my threshold for outrage is pretty high so I shrug off most such outrage-bait. But I can understand why some folks find it offensive, even if I don't join them in virtue signaling via social media reposts.
"Virtue signaling"; I learned a new (to me) and useful descriptive phrase today. Thanks.

That is just the wording to describe the intent of several of the smug pontificators on BF who often make snarky OT comments about the allegedly antisocial gaffes of other posters.
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Old 09-15-19, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Chrissie Hynde is from Ohio, but she lived and worked in England for years so when I saw her perform live in the 1980s and saw her in interviews she spoke with that hybrid style many folks adopt after living in another part of the world for awhile.
I didn't know that. The last time she had a hit I was too young to distinguish between American and British English, and the last time I heard of her, my abiltiy to notice was already getting worse.
And, yup, Americans and Europeans differ quite a bit in some respects, despite global communication making us somewhat more familiar to each other. Americans in general are baffled by Zwarte Piet, as blackface and anything resembling it has become a cultural taboo here.
And rightly so. There can't be Zwarte Piet after blackface, but in the Netherlands there has never been blackface, there is no word for it, in any European language. I personally never liked the guy, but it's only after I have seen lots of images of blackface since ZP became and now it's part of my visual memory I understand better how ZP makes Americans feel. But not everybody reads into subjects and you could question if they should care about that specific part of another country's history at all. We were educated about the Civil Rights movement and all so whe knew it was pretty bad and America had a lot of catching up to do, but of course you don't learn about all racism there was. About 10 years ago, before there was even discussion about ZP, some Dutchmen, I believe related to the embassy, had thrown a St.Nicholas and Zwarte Piet party for other Dutchmen in Washington, and went on the street fully dressed up. That turned into a bit of row, and it was extremely insensitive and rude of course. You've got be aware of where you are and the local culture, but that works the other way around too.

In some instances -- often overblown by pop culture media -- there are daily doses of micro-outrage over "cultural appropriation," including Mattel introducing Dia de los Muertos Barbie, and even when Americans create activities called "beer yoga" and "puppy yoga". As a mixed race/religion all-American mutt, my threshold for outrage is pretty high so I shrug off most such outrage-bait. But I can understand why some folks find it offensive, even if I don't join them in virtue signaling via social media reposts.
As long as there's mass incarceration with forced labour, voter surpression and led poisoning of drinkwater, there can't be enough outrage and there's reason to be suspicious about motives of whatever cultural expression. To some degree I understand it and don't want to make the same mistake of not seeing it in it's cultural context, but I doubt it's helpful. When this American activism crosses our border, which it does as some Dutch import it and Americans export it, it gets problematic very easily. It's divisive, in denial of history and often so preposterous it undermines their own message, which might be interesting, and any reasonable discussion. We don't have a culture where offence should be taken, (I'm not offended by the weed remark at all for example, just bored) and hurt feelings are your own problem, and we don't have a history that creates any room in the mind to even understand the whole concept of cultural appropriation. That used to be called cultural enrichment as one of the perks of mass immigration and globalization. Getting an American lecture on racism, no matter by which nationality, doesn't go down well, given that 'Americ has a lot of catching up to do' as mentioned above was putting it nicely. It's a bit like getting lectured on bike safety by Americans (helmets!), which happens too.
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Old 09-15-19, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Loose Chain View Post
Open carry a 1911 and two mags and people will give you a wide birth and the rednecks will honk in delight. Put a do not tread on me snake on your jersey and your are golden with the PU truck crowd. All is good in 'Murika, just got to know how to fit in, some of my countrymen are still trying to figure it out apparently. Works for me.
In Florida we add a rebel flag on the back of the bike as well for added visibility.
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Old 09-18-19, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Loose Chain View Post
I know I am not very PC but I saw plenty of blondes in the Netherlands and there is a whole bunch of them in Sweden. What exactly is wrong with being blonde? Oh do not answer, I do not want to hear all of the politics of division. Why cannot we just all get along?
I'm not very PC either. I brought the mentioning of all those blond cyclists up not just because it's imaginary, but also because it helps painting a picture of a quaint microcosmos with a particular cycling culture rather than about modern transportation solutions.
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Old 09-18-19, 09:14 AM
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