Science - March 26, 2009

THE WHITE BIKE CONQUERS WAGENINGEN

International students flooding into Wageningen, all because of its white bikes: that is what students Maartje Blok, Jeike van de Poel and Berry van den Pol are dreaming of. Together with three other students, they run the Bicycle Project of the Erasmus Student Network.

Student Nadine with a white bike from the Erasmus Student Network. For forty euros you can have the bike for eight weeks.
The ESN tries to give international students a warm welcome and to help them find their way in Wageningen. A bike is indispensable for this, think Maartje, Jeike and Berry. ‘Without a bike you don’t get anywhere here.’ And that is why white bikes have been seen around the town this month. There are still only a few of them, but there will soon be more, if the ESN students have anything to do with it.
They got the idea for the white bikes from a French exchange student. The university sponsored ten sturdy, safe bikes and Berry, Jeike and Maartje could get to work with white paint and numbers. The white bikes are now available for rent. A few have already been rented, but the ESN still has bikes available.
They are primarily intended for exchange students who are members of the ESN. They are often only here for a few weeks or months and it is a nuisance to have to buy and resell a bike for such a short period. So renting a bike is a good solution. You can rent a white bike for eight weeks for forty euros plus sixty euros deposit – refundable if the bike is returned in good order. And if the bike breaks down, you can get it repaired at a discount rate by Roel Peerenboom at the Profile bicycle shop.
Although it is quite time-consuming voluntary work, Jeike, Berry and Maartje are very enthusiastic about their bike project. ‘You can just blob in front of the TV all evening, but this is much nicer’, says Berry. Just like Jeike and Maartje, he is involved in other ESN projects too. For example, a trip for members is being organized to the Keukenhof flower gardens on 16 May, and international students can apply for a ‘buddy’. Buddies are Dutch students who show newly arrived international students where they can find the supermarket, the university buildings and the student accommodation. Because it’s all very well to have a nice white bike, but you also need to know where to go on it of course.

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