Nieuws - 12 april 2018

Balls in the bike racks

A few months ago, I joined a beach volleyball competition with my friends. We played once a week in matches with different teams. The volleyball court was located near a parking lot and some bike racks. Every time someone hit the ball too hard, it got lost in between the bikes. It always took time for the players to find the ball again.

Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek

One Dutch team member once said that losing balls in bike racks is typically Dutch. At first, I didn’t really believe that, yet later I found that indeed the same thing often happens in Holland when people play soccer and basketball, too. Bike racks are everywhere as the Netherlands has a long-standing bike culture – the Dutch even think all cycle routes lead to Holland. In fact, there appear to be more bicycles than cars in this country, where people of all ages enjoy cycling – so much so that it has become almost synonymous with Dutch culture.

The Netherlands has built fabulous infrastructure for bikes, including huge bike racks. But since bikes are literally everywhere – chained to every lamp post or tree – more and more racks are required. In Utrecht, city officials recently unveiled the first section of the world's largest bike parking garage for 6000 bikes. If you lose the ball in this garage, you may need to take a long break from the game to find the ball.

Ibnu Budiman, MSc student of Environmental Sciences, from Indonesia

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NL: Zoek de bal

Ibnu Budiman uit Indonesië stond te beachvolleyballen met vrienden. Telkens als iemand een te harde mep tegen de bal gaf, verdween die in de naastgelegen fietsenrekken en lag het spel even stil. Het is een typisch Nederlands verschijnsel, denkt Budiman. Waar anders dan in dit fietsland zijn er zo veel fietsenrekken waar je ballen in kunt verliezen? In Utrecht, zo hoorde hij, komt een parkeergarage voor zesduizend fietsen. ‘Als je daar je bal kwijtraakt, heb je een heel lange pauze nodig om hem weer te vinden.’