Terrified on two wheels

When you’re studying in Groningen, you can’t do without a bicycle. Internationals don’t only find the Dutch cycling culture strange; sometimes they find it downright scary. ‘I had never cycled before I moved to the Netherlands.’
By Eva van Renssen / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Germany | Oliver

‘In Germany, cycling is an extremely dangerous undertaking. Here, all the cars take cyclists into account, even more than the cyclists do themselves. But to me, the greatest thing is seeing how many people you can fit on one bike. I used to get on the back of someone’s bike after a night of drinking, but here people carry their significant others around on the front of their bike. It’s adorable.’

China | Cloud

‘China has all these communal bikes that everyone can use for free, but the traffic rules are kind of a mess. Biking here is so much safer.’

Singapore | Siri

‘Singapore is much too hot to use a bike to get through traffic. You’d arrive all sweaty and smelly if you went to a meeting by bike. I only knew cycling as a sport. I saw the cyclists here stick out their hand to signal which direction they’re going. But I need both hands to cycle, or I fall down! So now I have to get off at every corner and use the zebra crossing.’

Mexico | Luis

‘I knew how to cycle before I came to Groningen. That is to say, I managed to keep my balance. But the traffic rules here are so complicated. I have learned that an inverse triangle means I need to give other people the right of way. But I have no clue what a white sign with a red border around it means.’

China | Zachary

‘I didn’t start learning to ride until I had been here a year. But I decided to try because I thought it would help my mental health generally. Some of my friends helped me out, and I learned to do it step by step. I also practised on my own once, when there wasn’t anyone around to help. I got hit by a car that time. I wasn’t seriously injured, fortunately. I know how to bike now, but I’m still using a small bike so my feet can reach the ground.’

Japan | Yuki

‘I had never cycled before I moved to the Netherlands a few weeks ago, and it’s terrifying. It took me approximately a week to learn, but it was certainly worth it.’


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