Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mooi Helm

Those of you reading this blog since the beginning have probably been wondering where the blog's name comes from. It means "Nice Helmet" in Dutch, but I also liked that "Helm" is a subset of my maiden name.

Why choose such a name for the blog? When Brett and I were sitting in Oakland in May, we were trying to figure out what to bring with us from the US. Because we knew we'd be getting bikes, we figured we should bring our bike helmets. We knew that nobody in the Netherlands wears bike helmets and initially thought the Dutch were crazy until I stumbled upon a site online which describes the biking culture here in the city and why head injuries aren't as big of a concern. The answer: lower speeds, special bike lanes/paths and carefully trained drivers. Unlike in the US, drivers don't despise bicyclists. They're bicyclists themselves who just happen to be driving a car that day - so they treat bicyclists with respect.

Wearing a bicycle helmet in Amsterdam is considered EXTREMELY uncool and on this web site I read the story of a fellow American who was teased by the locals whenever he wore his bike helmet here. They would mockingly yell "Mooi Helm" or "Nice Helmet" whenever they saw him. Brett was adament that he was bringing his helmet, while I was willing to take the "when in Rome approach."

Sure enough, when Brett arrived in Amsterdam both bike helmets were packed and I vowed mine would never see the light of day here. I wondered about Brett's. Today he bought a folding bike and rode it home without a helmet. After arriving safely at the house he agreed that a helmet probably wasn't necessary and then took a ride helmetless from our house to the train station and through the park. That husband of mine is a real daredevil :-)

For a really fun read I highly encourage you to read the site that was the inspiration for the blog name. It has lots of funny musings on Dutch bike culture followed by an overview of every type of bike here with pictures.


Anonymous said...

hi Lori, a fun post indeed, love reading about those cultural cycling differences...and posting about them as well :).

It's really 'Mooie helm', but don't mind me, 'Mooi Helm' is just as cute.


Anonymous said...

Hey Lori! I have been reading your blog pretty regularly and it sounds like you are having a great time over there in the Netherlands. Keep the posts up for those of us across the pond and I'll be sure to let you know if we are ever going to be local (which is likely sometime in the next 8 months).