Interview with Imard Veenstra, Dutch-Hungarian cyclist living in Budapest

edited September 2020 in Rad Interviews

BikeInfantry:
You have both Dutch and Hungarian roots. What is the main difference in regards to cycling in the Netherlands and in Hungary?

Imard Veenstra:
Yes I was born in the Netherlands, at the age of four I went to school. It's normal to take the kids to school on their first bike. At the age of 6/7 I went on my own. My high school was just 10km away from my home, and I cycled every day, trough rain, snow and ice we'd cycle to school. That's the main difference, in Hungary people take the public transport if they have to go more than 2km's. Also because in Hungary the bicycle infrastructure is not that good as in the Netherlands.

B.I.:
Do you use a bike if you visit the countryside?

I.V.:
Yes, in the Netherlands: I lived on the countryside, that's why I cycled at least 20 kilometers a day. In Hungary I also take the bike on the countryside, but not that often as in the Netherlands. Mostly because of the temperature on the Hungarian puszta.

B.I.:
Is it true that you only had a car during Corona (Covid-19) and went back to only using a bicycle after you returned from your hideout in the country?

I.V.:
Indeed I bought a car during the lockdown to change the city for the countryside. Now how I came back to the city I feel uncomfortable to have it, because in the city you don't need it. I never ever take the car in the city, it is stupid. In a city like Budapest you don't need to have a car. Everything is doable by bike. Now at the end I kept my car, just because the parking permit was 2000ft for half a year... (also a reason for Hungarians to take a car)

B.I.:
Tell us more about the benefits of cycling in Budapest! (instead of maintaining a car)

I.V.:
Cycling trough Budapest has lots of benefits, you can go everywere, you get to your destination in a matter of minutes, while the cars are waiting the same time in the traffic jams. Also parking your bike is free ;) you also feel the fresh air at the banks of the Danube, and you are part of the beautiful city of Budapest. I cannot give a reason to not cycle in Budapest.

B.I.:
Why do you live in Budapest?

I.V.:
I'm studying in Budapest at the German speaking Andrássy university, for my masters degree in management and leadership.

B.I.:
What parts of the day do you prefer yourself mounting a bicycle and which are the hours you try to avoid in the Hungarian capital?

I.V.:
Usually I go to school in the morning, but the schedule is very different so I'm cycling through Budapest every possible moment. Also at night after a party, you will find me on my bike. There is not really a time I want to avoid Budapest.

B.I.:
How heavy is traffic in Budapest?

I.V.:
For a capital: it's catastrophic.
People who live in Budapest, go to their work by car, that's why there is always trafficjam... Guys, seriously buy a bike!!

B.I.:
Do you wear a mask downtown due to smog?

I.V.:
Sometimes when it's warm and there is lots of traffic I take a mask, otherwise I avoid the busy streets.

B.I.:
Are you taking your bike with you if you go out at night?

I.V.:
Almost every time I go out, I take it with me.
In the Netherlands it's the only possible way to get home when you are tipsy.

B.I.:
How do you lock your bike?

I.V.:
I have a foldable lock, it's easy to use and (almost) unbreakable. If somebody knows a lock that is unbreakable and light, please let me know.

B.I.:
Did any of your previous bikes got stolen? How?

I.V.:
Yes once, they stole a foldable bike. It was in Amsterdam, and in front of our eyes. We left the bikes locked in front of the ferry to the citycenter, when the ferry departed, a guy simply snapped the lock and took away one of the four. (three remained)

B.I.:
Do you leave your bike out of sight or do you insist that it has to stand next to you somewhere?

I.V.:
I don't really care, I just scan the environment, and place it in a place where It doesn't stand in the way of others. I have a little brown bag on my frame, I always keep it on it, nobody has ever stolen it.

B.I.:
Do you like vintage bicycles?

I.V.:
Yes I really like the old Dutch transport bikes, The ones with leather, and a good old fashioned Lepper saddle.

B.I.:
How many bikes do you have?

I.V.:
I just have 5 bikes, one mountainbike, two stationbikes (the ones that can be stolen) just a normal citybike and my most used retro looking sporty bike.

B.I.:
Tell us more about your (current) bike!

I.V.:
I bought my current 6KU branded bike last year in the Dutch city of Meppel, at my favorite store L'hirondelle. They have the most beautiful, super modern vintage bikes. I bought mine with a nice discount because nobody wanted this color. I wanted some leather details so I bought a little bag to put some stuff in it. In Budapest I built a little luggage rack on the front, to put an old wooden beercrate on it.

B.I.:
Does a bicycle have to reflect the tase of it's owner (fashion, outfit, etc.): does it have to be synchronized with the overall message of someone's appearance / character?

I.V.:
It depends on the way you use your bike. I use it every day, I meet lots of people, so I wanted a representative bike. I keep it clean and shiny. How does it look like when a guy in businesssuit cycles on a shitty bike??

B.I.:
Do you attend any regular cycling events such as „I Bike Budapest” or „Tweed Run Budapest”?

I.V.:
I have never attended one, because the pandemic they canceled the IBike Budapest event, really sad, I wanted to come! I don't have a bike for attending the tweed run. In the Netherlands we have a 1936 transportcarrier bike from the family owned company which I restored, maybe if we get it here I will attend the tweed run.

B.I.:
Have you ever cycled during the winter in Budapest?

I.V.:
What kind of question is this? Why shouldn't I take the bike in the winter? You just have to watch out, and take the right clothes.

B.I.:
What was the longest distance you cycled? / Did you ever do cross-country outings?

I.V.:
Once I cycled 120 kms in the Netherlands at ones, but if we count the totals: 5 years of highschool: 20km per day is 100kms a week, 41 weeks per year is: 20.500km.

B.I.:
Are there any bicycle roads in Europe you would recommend to readers?

I.V.:
Well there is not a special bicycleroad I can recommend. But I can recommend the bike underground parking garage in Utrecht, Netherlands, it's just crazy and beautiful.

B.I.:
What was your favourite spot enjoying cycling? (whether in a city or surrounded by nature)

I.V.:
I really like both, but I find it hard to reach nature here in Budapest. You really have to go far away to get into the nature. Also as a Dutch cyclist, I don't like mountains, and the nice spots in Budapest are almost uphill. But I really like the sight from the Buda castle at night, when the area up there is almost empty.

B.I.:
How do you maintain your bike?

I.V.:
I keep pressure in the tires and put regularly fat on the chain. I don't like sprays, because when it's raining they create a mess on the whole bike.

B.I.:
Do you have mechanics or it's all DIY?

I.V.:
I maintain my bike myself, also repairs and customations.

Thank you Imard !
Recorded in Budapest (July-September, 2020)
Typed in and edited by BikeInfantry (September, 2020)

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