The Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) in Hackney, London, offered a panel debate to discuss whether we are “born or made cyclists?”.
The Londoners are curious to learn from the Dutch and had asked our expert and Tour de Force director Erik Tetteroo to open the debate. In his presentation Erik showed a fragment from Paul Verhoeven’s 1970’s movie ‘Turkish Delight’, based upon the novel by Jan Wolkers. The scene shows the just married couple on their way to a wine shop in Amsterdam. Happily together on one bike, in some humorous fight with numerous cars as it was still at the start of the Dutch bicycle revolution.
According to Erik this fragment shows three inspiring elements: Dutch style cycling, hope for the future and the power of imagination.
The Dutch sit more upright on their bikes, wearing their normal clothes. Contrary to the London cyclists fashion of dressing in fancy Rapha or other bike garment, even attending the debate on their clip-in shoes. This dresscode makes a cycling a subculture, instead of an easy going modality for everyone. Hence Erik prefers cyclist in suit than MAMIL-style.
The screened ‘fight’ between motorists and cyclists refers to hope, as it shows that Amsterdam of the early seventies was comparable to todays situation in London. It is quite a struggle to overcome this domination of cars, but if we succeeded in the last fifty years, the English might solve it in the next decade as well. To get things moving, Erik proposed that much more radical choices are needed. Choose clearly for bike and public transport in the city centers, and keep the car for the rural areas, to improve quality of life and accessibility.
Finally Erik referred the power of film and images. The young couple on their bike showed courage and a sense of ‘we shall overcome’. For the UK cycling revolution more role models are needed. What if James Bond should appear in his tuxedo on a bike in his next movie?