The Hague city hosted its first bicycle flash mob on the World Bicycle Day which is celebrated on the 3rd of June every year around the globe. This day was declared by the United Nations in 2018 so this year it was the 5th anniversary of the World Bicycle Day event.

A special year called for special celebrations. I was in the Netherlands on the 3rd of June and was invited to participate in a bicycle flash mob by my Dutch friend Michiel van Zuijlen. If you read my previous blog, I have already introduced him.

The bicycle flash mob was planned and organized in The Hague city by the bicycle Mayor of Hague Remco de Rijk and a group of volunteers and participants. The idea was to play the famous song “I want to ride my bicycle…” from the album Bicycle Race. This song was written by Freddie Mercury of the British rock band Queen and the album was released in 1978. Since the song duration is 3 minutes, all cyclists came together abruptly (as per plan) at the same time and same location and pedaled around a roundabout “Regentesseplein” for 3 minutes and then disappeared.

Video credit: Michiel van Zuijlen.

A loudspeaker was temporarily fixed on a cargo bike which led the bicycle flash mob parade. Everyone kept ringing the bell non-stop “Tring Tring” and it caught the attention of the people present at the spot. Traffic was halted with the help of volunteers, and a flow of cyclists took center stage. I too was part of this act, and it was my first experience ever at an international destination and I had never imagined that I would be doing this. Thanks to all my Dutch cycling friends for including me in their endeavor.

This bicycle flash mob was kept secretive and only a limited people were aware of this idea. It wasn’t even announced on the social media to keep participation to a minimum few riders from the local cycling group in the city of Hague.

If I were to define the agenda of the bicycle flash mob, three things come to my mind:

  1. Reclaim the public space and reinstate the right to use the roads for cycling.
  2. Send out a message to the public that cycling is the best for all and in all forms it’s good for the humanity.
  3. Attract the non-cyclists to use bicycles as a means of daily commute and reap its immense benefits for our cities.

The ride culminated into a closed group gathering at a cafe for drinks and discussions. I got an opportunity to meet many cyclists from The Hague city and we shared our knowledge and experiences.

With Melaine in The Hague.

One interesting person I met was Melaine who is a cycle trainer. She teaches young kids and adults how to ride a bicycle. Her training institute is called as “Cycling lessons with Melaine” as mentioned on her business card. Her goodness reminded me of the story of Mama Agatha, a Ghanaian lady who runs a cycle training institute in Amsterdam for the expat community.

If I can describe three takeaways from my interactions with Melanie those would be:

  1. What I liked about the Dutch Society is that the citizens are conscious about the fact that not everyone can cycle and needs a helping hand.
  2. With support and guidance people can learn to balance on two wheels irrespective of their age, gender and ability.
  3. Cycle training also ensures that the future generations carry the legacy ahead with pride and confidence.

In my opinion cycle training is an essential component of the cycling ecosystem and must be encouraged and facilitated by the government at a national level. What do you think?

World Bicycle Day flash mob ride
With Evoke, who volunteers for the cycling events.
With Marcel Kleizen, former Bicycle Mayor of the Hague.
Michiel in headscarf briefing the participants.
With Remco de Rijk, the current Bicycle Mayor of The Hague.
Group Selfie.
A memento presented to Remco, photo credit: Michiel van Zuijlen.

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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai


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