The bike of...

Name: Bennett Cohen Brand: Unknown oma-fiets Price: €60 euro Striking Feature: Distorted front tire

Bennett Cohen and his omafiets. (Photo/text: Bennett Cohen)
Bennett Cohen and his omafiets. (Photo/text: Bennett Cohen)

“I’m originally from Portland, Oregon. Portland is considered to be one of the most bike-friendly cities in America, so I thought I knew a thing or two about bike culture before moving to Holland. However, after moving here I’ve learned that the Dutch have taken bike culture to a level I never imagined. The path and parking infrastructure is amazing for bikes - it’s nice to feel like the dominant mode when cycling, and not always looking out for cars. It’s also quite incredible to see Moms with two kids on one bike, or students cycling several cases of beer around. I even once saw a guy playing video games with both hands while cycling.

I’m doing the MSc Industrial Ecology programme, which is interdisciplinary and inter-university, so I’m always on the go. A good bike was critical. Soon after I got to Holland, a classmate told me about a bike-swap in Leiden, so I went to check it out. There were dozens of used black ‘omafiets’ available for international students to choose from. I immediately noticed one with a nice kick-stand and working generator and light system. I bought it after a short test-ride.
One evening I had my omafiets locked up at the Delft station. When I returned the following morning, not only was my bike missing, but the entire rack I’d locked it to was also gone! After some initial confusion, I realized that the municipality had removed the rack as part of the station reconstruction process. I soon discovered my bike in a pile of bikes that had been parked in the removed rack.

Unfortunately the workers had been quite rough on it, and four spokes were ripped out of the front wheel. I haven’t repaired this yet, so the wheel is becoming more and more oval-shaped, which makes for an entertaining ride, to say the least. Still, I’m impressed that the bike is still rideable after two months with so many spokes missing.”