“I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to a bike!”

Guest Post by: Kira Iwai, a Foster Senior Focusing on HR and Information Systems. She participated in a Foster Exchange at the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands. 

Before arriving in Rotterdam, I knew I wanted to be just like all the other local residents – own a bicycle and ride it EVERYWHERE! I was pleased to hear that there was a student deal where you can rent a bike for only 12 euros a month. Though, the deal was too good to be true…the rental bike was twice my size.  I assume no Dutch are 5ft like me. My only other option was to purchase a second-hand bike. Lone and behold, the only bike that suited my size was a children’s bike, with pink and purple stripes, and a small basket…”I’ll take it!”

Once having my bike, it took time to understand the Netherlands biking etiquette: 1) There are specific bike lanes, traffic lights, hand signals 2) Watch out for scooters, because they share the lanes with you 3)

Don’t bike near tram lines or your tire can get caught in the track.  Though with time I felt like I was becoming a true, Dutch rider.

…That is until my ride back home from Kinderdijk.  Kinderdijk, a country side town, known for its traditional wind mills, was a 45-min bike ride away.  It was a doable ride there, so I expected the same return.

Ten minutes into our ride home I hear a loud *POPPP!  I had gotten a HUGE flat tire!  Stuck with only cows and sheep in the surrounding area, trains and buses too far to bike with a flat, and no biker’s version of AAA in the Netherlands, I was running out of options of how to get home.  Hopelessly walking toward any sign of a houses, I knocked on the first home I saw and was greeted by a nice Dutch family who spoke broken English.

Using hand motions and wide expressions to explain my desperate situation, the family spoke in Dutch to each-other and then said, “We’ll drive you to the closest train station, so you can get home!”

I didn’t know how to thank them enough! I was so grateful for the family’s generosity!  Never did I anticipate my bike trip would lead to a scenario where I was stranded and saved by strangers.

Although my biking experiences haven’t been all sunshine and rainbows, my hope did come true to feel like a Dutch local, who has to face real-life biking situations that I’ve never faced in the USA.