Monday, October 22, 2012

Just another school pick-up, Dutch-style

We live above an elementary school. In addition to the pleasure of hearing non-stop squeals and laughter from the children, I also get to witness the oh-so-Dutch school pick-up at 3pm sharp (1pm on Wednesdays). Here's how it works.

About 972 bicycles ridden by 972 parents appear out of nowhere and gather in the front of my building at 2:45pm. The bicycle stock includes single-seaters, bikes with a front child's seat, a rear child's seat, bikes with a front and a rear child's seat, Danish-style cargo bikes, Dutch-style cargo bikes, cargo bikes with a rear child's seat, and that's about it. Of course there's a lot of color and accoutrement variety as well.

From 2:45pm until 3pm parents jibber-jabber, about the weather I assume.

At 3pm sharp, the doors open and waves of small children flood out. All the children scramble around and find their parents. Squealing and laughter abound. One by one, the children climb aboard their bicycle and one by one (or three or four by one) they all leave. By 4pm all the children and parents are usually gone.

I love this picture--so much going on! Look at that kid fast-asleep in the bike seat.

I know you Dutchies don't think anything of this--but it's really amazing! Such a different experience from my elementary school days, where my mom or dad drove me to school, dropped me off, and then that was it. After school, some days, I would go do sports or homework and wait for mom or days; other days, I would wait at the curb for my ride. The Dutch way is so much more communal, friendly, fun, and 100% car-free! It helps that parents can leave work, without the blink of an eye or silent scold from a colleague, to go pick up their child from school. Ya, that helps. Also helps that schools are very neighborhood-central. These are all children from the neighborhood and they live only a bike ride away. Pretty nice.


  1. Beautiful! One day soon, I hope, we will get to this, too!

  2. We have many of these dutch bikes/carts/box things appearing in our city. But till the road surfaces dramatically improve... I fear kids would be catapaulted left right and center as they bounced from pothole to pothole.
    What a great idea though, I want one.... :)
    Thanks for your blog Dutch Pancake.

  3. This is simply amazing! I can only dream of one day picking up my kids this way. (Come on, North America!) What an awesome blog, by the way! :)

  4. Fantastic! I'm Dutch but living in Adelaide, Australia and I would love to see this here one day... These photos take me back to my youth, going to school by bike every day of the year (whatever the weather, rain, wind, snow, doesn't matter!) - good memories!! (Ok, have to admit, also 'bad' ones, of the days that I just really did not want to ride my bike as a 6 year old, but I had to!). One day, one day, we will see this here in Adelaide.. I hope! :-)

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