The world’s first fietsburgemeester
The Shallow Man recently received the following message from a rather emotional reader.
Shallow Man, I find a lot of your posts about the Netherlands upsetting. Yes, it’s fair to say that we Dutch girls dress as if someone has invented a 3D printer that can clone organic matter. But you know, there’s more to life here than white sneakers and ripped jeans. You live in Amsterdam, it’s beautiful. Why don’t you talk about what a wonderful place it is to live? You must like it. After all you’ve lived here for over ten years now. Please write something positive about our samenleving and beautiful city.
Yours hopefully Anouk
P.S. I wish you’d stop using my name every time you write about Dutch women.
Well and truly rapped across the knuckles, the Shallow Man, wiping tears from his keyboard, has decided that it’s time to write something a little more upbeat and positive about Amsterdam. I didn’t need to look long for inspiration. On the very day I received the above message, Amsterdam elected the first fietsburgemeester (mayor of bikes) in the world!
So without any further prevarication, the Shallow Man will comment positively on this momentous event by providing 5 tips that I’m sure will be of great value not only to the fietsburgemeester, but to the residents of Amsterdam as well.
The things I do for my readers!
Who needs Batman when you can have a fietsburgemeester instead?
Some rather clueless people might dare to suggest that civic priorities of Amsterdam should actually focus on dealing with some of the following:
- Extremely high rental prices
- Lack of social mobility
- Why the University of Amsterdam is whiter than a Klu Klux Klan alumni gathering
- The continued war of competing drug gangs that even lead to a head being left on a busy street in broad daylight
But hey, what do I know about the complexities of civic life? Don’t worry about the items above. Rejoice! In Amsterdam, we have a fietsburgemeester, Anne Lufen. Democratically elected for two years. Anne, who I don’t believe will wear a cape or a mask while carrying out her duties, will set right all the many wrongs and crimes against the most undervalued, yet incredibly important members of our multikulti, gezellig samenleving, the Amsterdam cyclist.
What does the fietsburgemeester have in common with the NRA?
Just as in the US, where the NRA ensure that they can push their agenda and define policy by having close ties with politicians, our fietsburgemeester actually works for a bike company! Wat leuk! In fact, she actually works in the marketing department. What a fabulous coincidence!
I’m all for experts taking on positions of authority in public services. For example, it shouldn’t be possible to be minister of health in the Netherlands unless you’ve worked for a cigarette manufacturer, FEBO or an insurance company.
Five tips for the fietsburgemeester
Anna Luten will hold office for two years. I’ve canvassed many of my Amsterdam based readers, and have some advice on cycling policy that I believe will improve things.
1. Widening of bike lanes
As she pointed out in the video, the bike lanes in Amsterdam are ‘heel druk’ (very bloody busy hoor!).
It’s so busy on the bike lanes, and you have all these children, old people, the handicapped and clueless tourists, moving around really slowly. It makes much more sense to simply remove all pavements and widen the bike lanes. This should encourage even more people to cycle.
2. Removal of any legal liability for cyclists
Cyclists are very busy people. If while hurrying to get somewhere, they happen to maim or kill a pedestrian or two, well that’s nothing compared to the environmental gains that the city gets from having so many people using bikes. I suggest that cyclists are allowed to seriously injure three people a year, and to cause the untimely death of say one person every 18 months. That’s a small price to pay for clean air and the other environmental benefits they provide.
3. Mandatory bike tests for tourists
In order to prevent tourists from increasing the blood pressure of Amsterdammers, all bike rental places should provide mandatory cycling proficiency courses along with an exam that tourists will have to pass before being allowed on a bike.
Here are some questions that should be in the exam
You’re cycling along a busy bike lane, when you receive a call on your smartphone, what is the correct thing to do?
- Slow down, giving a hand signal and then pull over where it’s safe to answer the call
- Pull out the phone, and while swerving from left to right on the bike lane, shout at the top of your voice “NO THE RESULTS FROM THE CLINIC HAVEN’T ARRIVED YET. I’LL CALL YOU BACK WHEN THEY DO”
Normen en waarden
While cycling with your partner, What is the correct way to behave?
- No matter how busy the bike lane is, reach out and hold hands. Cycle slowly along while looking at each other, not the bike lane
- Cycle along a narrow path next to each other, so that you can discuss the concert that you just spent the entire evening talking through
- Have your female partner do all the cycling, while you sit on the back, with your lion king hair flowing in the wind
The Best place to park your bike
What does the sign above mean?
- Do not park your bike here
- Do not park your bike here unless you’re Dutch, then it’s ok as rules don’t apply to you
Drinking and cycling
You’ve had too much to drink what should you do with your bikes?
- Leave them where they are and take a taxi or public transport
- Be like everyone else in Amsterdam and cycle while drunker than a British tourist at the Oktoberfest
4. Give bakfiets owners the respect they deserve
As it says in the bible, “blessed are the bakfiets owners, for they will drink several glasses of Chardonnay, and then turning a corner too quickly will enter the kingdom of heaven.” It’s simply unfair that such important and environmentally conscious people as bakfiets owners, should have to share the bike lanes with ‘normal’ cyclists. An hour before and after school time, I suggest reserving the bike lanes in Amsterdam Zuid and Oud West for the exclusive use of bakfiets owners. This will be a real vote winner, and the number of accidents on bike lanes will fall by at least seventy percent.
5. Deportation of scooter owners
Scooter riders will soon be banned from bike lanes in Amsterdam, which is a wonderful thing. However, this doesn’t go far enough. I suggest that the fietsburgemeester deport all scooter owners to Almere. The only negative thing about this policy is that as most Dutch women don’t cook, then huge numbers of them will starve to death if unable to receive food delivered by scooter.
Democracy in action
Democracy is a wonderful thing, and it’s great to see that Amsterdam is looking after special interest lobbies by giving them their own mayor. I look forward to seeing this practice being extended to other areas and suggest that we have elections to vote for the following additional burgemeesters.
Who will represent the interests of the mainly female population of smokers in Amsterdam
Denimhotpants and white sneakers burgemeester
Ok this position would have to be part-time, reflecting the limited amount of sunshine in Amsterdam. However, the denim hotpantsburgemeester should define policies around the size and type of hotpants to be worn on sunny days in the city. This person should also govern the wearing of the obligatory white sneakers.
What with people smugglers bringing in ladies that are willing to undercut local prices. Pimps should have their own mayor to represent their special interests.
The office for this position should naturally be in one of the banks or consultancy firms in the Zuidas business district of Amsterdam.
Democracy is a wonderful thing
Especially if you can afford to hire a group of lobbyists to convince the local council to not only do everything they can to support your interests, but even create a mayoral post so that you can dictate policy. Leuk!
No lobbyists were hurt during the writing of this post
Till next time hou je snavel!