More than 100 bicycles hitting the streets of Winnipeg will be more than a mode of transportation — they will carry a story that crosses the ocean, peddles through the Netherlands and promotes the cycling lifestyle.
A shipping container of bicycles is on its way to the city carrying 140 Dutch bikes as part of the Plain Bicycle Project.
“It’s funny, in the Netherlands it’s just a bike obviously,” Anders Swanson, who works with the project, said on CBC Radio’s Information Radio Monday.
“If anybody has ever seen a postcard with a canal in the background and a bike with maybe some flowers in the basket in the front it’s probably one of these bikes.”
Swanson said the single-speed bikes allow the rider to sit upright “like you are travelling through the landscape on a lazy boy.” The handlebars are near to the chest and there’s a skirt guard, fender, lights and a chain guard that goes completely around.
“So even if you are wearing your wedding dress you will end up where you need to get without getting dirty,” Swanson said.
Hopping on a bike to get to a special event or the grocery store is everyday fare in the Netherlands. In a 2014 report, 36 per cent of the people in the European country listed the bike as their most frequent mode of transportation.
“Cycling is already the fastest growing mode of transportation here in Winnipeg. If driving was increasing at the rate of cycling was we’d have to be widening Main Street,” Swanson said.
Swanson said he’d like to see it get closer to numbers in the Netherlands but there are a couple hurdles in the way, including normalizing cycling culture. People can buy all types of bikes in the Netherlands but they largely choose to keep it simple and stick with the Dutch bikes.
“There is something about the bicycle itself because when everybody is riding the same exact thing there is no sort of fad, there is no sort of gear…