If you look down from the upper floors of Forum or Orion, it looks at first as though a blue fungus is growing all over the bike racks. Once you look better, it turns out to be the blue front tires and locks of countless Swapfiets bikes.
Swapfiets has swept through Dutch university towns in just a couple of years. The concept is simple: for a fixed monthly sum you are mobile, without any worries about your bike breaking down. If something is wrong, the fast lads from Swapfiets are always ready with professional support. If necessary, you can swap your broken bike for one that works – hence the name.
I’ve always looked down a bit on these ‘swap bikes’: ‘That’s for people who never learned to mend a puncture.’ And I’m enormously attached to my rickety student bike, which I bought a few years ago for 30 euros in Ede. But sometimes I can use a bit of professional support. Like not long ago, with a force 8 wind in my back over the Grebbe dyke, when my pedal brake failed and I landed in the fence on the side of the road. Soaking wet, I arrived at the bicycle repair shop, where it turns out they are also always ready with professional support. The hub proved to be broken, and there was a whole list of other parts that needed replacing too.
Maybe it is time to swap my precious student bike for another one. But one of those with a jolly blue front tire? I doubt it.
Vincent Oostvogels (22) is exploring the delicate interface between nature management and food production through his two Master’s programmes, Forest and Nature Conservation and Animal Sciences