Monday, 9 March 2009

Public bicycle tool box

These photos are of public bicycle tool kits provided by the ANWB in the Netherlands. Both are on the outside walls of cafes, the first is near Assen (at the link you can see the beer company sponsored cycle parking and the nearby cyclepath as well as the toolbox).

If you need to use the tools inside you can get a key from the cafe owner.

The ANWB is the Dutch equivalent of the Automobile Association.

The letters ANWB stand for "Algemene Nederlandsche Wielrijders-Bond" or "General Dutch Cyclists Union". The organisation that rescues broken down drivers in the Netherlands is actually a cycling organisation. They also put up many of the cycle route signs. In the 1970s there was a lot of criticism of the ANWB for no longer representing cyclists enough, which lead to the formation of the similar named ENWB ("Eerste Enige Echte Nederlandse Wielrijdersbond (ENWB)" - "First and only real Dutch Cyclists Union") which later changed its name to Fietsersbond ("cyclists union") and today campaigns for cyclists rights.

The second photo shows another toolbox on the outside wall of a cafe near Eindhoven, in the province of Brabant several hundred kilometres from here. Note that this also has a "Fietscafe" (cycling cafe) sign. It's one of hundreds of fietscafes in the Netherlands. The province of Brabant, for example, has 200 Fietscafes.

There are photos of other small things like this on the blog.

"Fiets" is one of two words for bicycle in Dutch. The other being "Rijwiel", hence the name "Rijwiel hulpkist" for the public tool box.

9 comments:

The Jolly Crank said...

Yet another brilliant Dutch idea for making biking convenient in NL.

Karl McCracken (twitter: @karlonsea) said...

I had a discussion with the owner of a local bike shop about this sort of thing. Basically his shop is a child magnet on a Saturday, and a kid came in asking for an 8mm allen key. The owner found a suitable multi tool, and was surprised that the kid just wanted to borrow it!

I suggested that he set up a maintenance station outside the shop - just the sort of thing you often find when skiing. A Basic selection of tools and a pump, all tethered with steel cables.

His reaction? "No, that'd lose me sales"

Dude - you're not making any sales to these kids anyway. They have no money!

Martin Parkinson said...

I've been meaning to ask this for a while.

How is "fiets" pronounced? Is it like an english speaker would say "feets" or is it "fee-etts" or "fights" or something else entirely?

David Hembrow said...

Martin: It's much like the English word "feet" (plural of foot) but with an S on the end. Dutch pronounciation is, thankfully given that we're learning the language, much more consistent from spelling than is the case in English. "ie" always makes that "EE" sound.

There is a very amusing blog, with a podcast and many examples of pronounciation here.

Martin Parkinson said...

Hoorah! I was hoping it was "feets".

Over the years I've 'utility walked' far more than I've 'utility cycled', so I like the anglo-dutch pun which hints that walking and cycling are closely related. (Yes, yes, I *know*)

Rob said...

There's something rather lovely about the fact that the Dutch have their own word for bike that's unlike any other language's.

(It derives from a corruption of 'Vitesse', the word for cycling club in the early French-dominated world of bicycle development, in a Nederlands accent, no?)

If I ever did have a car, and if I ever did have five thousand quid to buy a personal registration plate, I'd go for F1ETS.

mr carter said...

such a cool idea!

any suggestions on how interested businesses in Canada/US could implement this idea?

what kind of tool are in there?

David Hembrow said...

I don't know exactly what's in it as I've never had the need to use one.

However, I expect a pump, spare tubes, puncture repair kit, probably allen keys, screwdrivers, spanners etc.

Any shop that wants to do it can already do so, of course. Just put the things a cyclist might need in a box. However, to be organised nationally you need a national organisation behind it.

Son of Shaft said...

The etymology of fietsen is so far unknown.

There are several probable explanations:

-Bicycle dealer E.C.Viets, but the word fiets was already used before the store existed.
-Derived from vélocipède.
-onomatope of a squeaky bike/chain
-derivation from 'La Vitesse' bicycle club from Apeldoorn
-Dialect: Province of Limburg vietse/fietse meant something as walking/moving fast. In the province Brabant it meant something like a swaying/rocking way of movement.

So far no definitive explanation.

As a kid I was always amused when trying to teach/explain some Canadian relatives to pronounce 'angstschreeuw'