Fishing for bikes

Only in Amsterdam…

The bike collectors came along our canal yesterday. That big orange arm in front of the barge has a grabber on the end for scooping dead bikes from their watery graves.

The collection is piled onto another barge and together they sail off into the sunset.

That's a lot of bikes for a few hours' scraping.

It all begs the question, how and why do bikes get into the canals in the first place?

Surely they can’t all be ridden in there by wayward cyclists, who emerge coughing and spluttering, leaving the Gazelle or Batavus on the bottom as they struggle ashore, glad to be alive.

Are they tossed in there by Dutch equivalents of the amusing teenagers who tie each other’s sneakers together and lob them up to dangle from power lines?

Are there any decent, repairable bikes fished out of the water? Who gets them? Where do they go?

I don’t know. We had a surplus bike that wouldn’t fit in our storage space, not with five of its mates already jostling for position there. I chained it up on the street for a while, then considering unchaining it to see what would happen, but that would only have sent it to a bad home.

Fortunately we found someone who was happy to take it off our hands. ‘You ought to see the rotten old bike I’ve been getting around on,’ she said, ‘I hate it.’

I hope she didn’t throw her rotten old bike into the canal.


Filed under Cycling, Holland


  1. This is amazing! They couldn’t just fall in, somebody must put them there.

    • It’s remarkable that Amsterdam second hand bike shops can stay in business, BdL, when anyone with a grappling hook, a rope and time on their hands has a chance of catching themselves a Cannondale or at least a Malvern Star.

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