We get a lot of reactions and comments when we’re out and about on the bikes. Most people -or at least most people not in a car- are positive, and I’m frequently asked if I built them myself, which is flattering considering I wouldn’t know a welding torch if I fell over it. But there’s one comment which I frankly don’t understand even though it comes every second day: “My goodness, your boys have got it good” (“Die Jungs haben’s gut”).

See what I mean? It sounds like I’m spoiling the boys by transporting them on the bikes. Now that would be fine if the commenter was expecting their kids to walk to kindergarten seven kilometers each day, barefoot, while subsisting on a diet of mouldy beans and sawdust, but frequently people say that and then shovel their kids into a two ton car to take them the kilometre or so home.

Frankly I’d sit in a Bakfiets in preference to a car any day, but why is it a ‘luxury’ to carry children in a plywood box, but carrying them in a tin tank is normal? (Unless of course, they’re all envious of us and the fresh air we’re getting)

Anyway, yesterday I heard a great response to this. The kindergarten were having a ‘forest day’ so we had to pick the boys up from the edge of the village. I waited in the company of several mums, all holding car keys. Just before the children came, the mum from the one other car-free family in the village turned up. She’s a walker rather than a cyclist, and she’d had to pick her six year old son up from school and then get to the meeting point for the kindergarten, about 2 km away, in about five minutes. Her son was exhausted, so she’d put him in a big stroller and pushed him.

And the comments began: “Excuse me young man, you’re a schoolboy now, you can’t expect your mummy to push you about all the time any more” etc. Car Free Mum patiently explained the reason several times, before deciding she’d had enough. Turning to the most vociferous commenter she smiled sweetly and said “When I see you riding your bike occasionally, I’ll listen to that comment.”

Silence.

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