Something has always puzzled me about Amsterdam’s famous bikes. While cyclists in London often ride flashy, modern bicycles, the cyclists of Amsterdam seem to favour old, black boneshakers – often without gears.
I had thought that this might be some sort of retro fashion statement. But – chatting to students in Amsterdam – I discovered that the real explanation is crime. Apparently, bicycle-theft is so common that it is pointless having an expensive bike in Amsterdam. Instead, if you need a bike, you simply buy one for 10-15 euros from a thief and/or junkie. Then, when its stolen, you buy another one.