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In Conversation With Joni Uhlenbeck, Amsterdam Cycle Chic

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of being introduced to Joni, one of the founders of the Amsterdam Cycle Chic blog by one of our new friends Anton Firma of Hotelfietsbel.

In case you didn't know, "Amsterdam Cycle Chic is part of the global Cycle Chic movement. It all started in Copenhagen in 2007 when journalist, film director and photographer Mikael Colville-Andersen started posting pictures of people in Copenhagen on their bikes. All over the world people found his blog and were inspired by the Danish bicycle culture. It seemed that a lot of people linked cycling to sports; to lycra, speed and sweat. Mikael Colville-Andersen showed the world that cycling can be very stylish and part of a daily life".

Some of the photos you can enjoy on the Copenhagen Cycle Chic website: Heels and the rain and a super cute rain cape

by Kristina Gjerding, Copenhagen Cycle Chic

  1. What inspired you to become part of or start the cycle chic movement, and how long have you been involved with the Amsterdam Cycle Chic?

I am Dutch and 'born and raised on a bicycle'. In the Netherlands it is so normal to use your bike every day that we actually never talk about bicycles. Everybody just uses them to go to work, school and shopping. In 2010 and 2011 I lived in Dublin and started a business dealing with Dutch bicycles called Bear, bicycles from Amsterdam. It was then that I realized how special it is that everyone cycles in my country. For us cycling is just the quick version of walking and we always do it in normal clothes; so that is Cycle Chic.

Back in The Netherlands I wanted to do something to make cycling more popular everywhere, to show the world that it is possible to do almost everything on bike, and how nice it is to cycle. That's why I started with some others, the Amsterdam Cycle Chic blog in December 2011. 

  1. Is Amsterdam Cycle Chic a full-time occupation for you? 

No, it isn't. For all of us it is just a voluntary blogging thing. We do not earn any money. We just do it because we hope that it inspires people (and maybe also decision makers) over the world in making their cities bicycle friendly too. We think everyone on the planet has the right to be able to cycle safely through their city. We show that that is possible and that it is not a sport, but just part of daily life in your daily clothes.


  1. Can you explain the global cycle chic republic to our readers and how it relates to Amsterdam cycle chic?

The Cycle Chic movement was started by Mikael Colville-Andersen with his blog Copenhagen Cycle Chic. It is a blog with many followers. He posts pictures of stylish cyclists in Copenhagen, Denmark. Just like the Netherlands, Denmark is also a cycling country. After Copenhagen Cycle Chic, a lot of Cycle Chic blogs all over the world followed. We are a community. We meet each other every year for a conference. We share content and pictures and our mission is to make the world more bicycle friendly without the need for unstylish helmets and vis vests. All the blogs together are called the Cycle Chic Republic

  1. How would you describe your cycle style?

I don't really have a cycle style. I just cycle on my upright Dutch bike with the clothes that I am wearing that day. That could be a nice dress, if I am on my way to a party, sporty clothes, when I am on my way to the gym or high heels, skinny jeans and a nice top, on my way to work. 

  1. We live in very similar climates; at Le Vélo we’re all about dressing for your destination while riding a bicycle. What’s your secret for cycling in rainy weather and keeping your personal cycle chic style?

When it rains I either cycle with an umbrella. The Dutch Senz umbrellas are very handy to cycle with.

Our new friends at Senz umbrellas recommend the drycycle for cycling like this one.

or I put on a nice looking rain coat or my rain skirt from the Irish brand Georgia in Dublin.

But sometimes I just have bad luck and I get soaked, but because in Amsterdam it is the fastest way to get around I prefer to get soaked to taking a bus or tram (and I don't have a car). 

  1. Do you have any cycling tips for women who want to start cycling but haven't made it on to two wheels yet?

I can very much recommend to start cycling on an upright bike. That is the easiest bike to keep your balance and it is best to oversee the traffic. 

Like these.

Susan from Le Velo

  1. Based on pictures I’ve seen of you on the Amsterdam Cycle Chic blog, it looks like we have similar bikes (Oma fiets). Can you tell our readers about your ride? And does she have a story?

This bike is a Bear Bike, the bikes we were selling in Ireland. It has a crate in the front that I use to carry my groceries or my bag with laptop. I have a nine month old son and can't wait till he is big enough to go in a little child seat on the handlebars. That must be an amazing feeling to cycle around with your child between your arms!


Joni with her partner Philip in Dublin where they held a special Valentine's Day event for their company  Bear Bicycles.

Joni left us with a few photographs that really shows Amsterdam in the streets as well as the very popular Bike Crate that is really Amsterdam Style.

Photo credit goes to Meredith of Amsterdam Cycle Chic

The next photograph really depicts the Dutch Cycle Chic style, because many men in Amsterdam cycle in their suits to work, it's not an unusual sight to see a father dressed on his way to work with his child. True Amsterdam cycle chic.

Photograph credit goes to Aude of Amsterdam Cycle Chic

It was great speaking with Joni on the topic of cycle chic. Thanks so much for sharing with us! Lets hope that we can bring together a world where cycling is used as a transportation and not just seen as a sport. I believe this mentality will get more women out on their bikes riding because we all know that women are species indicator of change for cycling infrastructure within cities. If you build it, they will cycle on it. This holds true in the Netherlands where 54% of the cyclists are women.

I've written it before, there is a time and place for spandex like going on a long ride or tour cycling in some far off place. I wear spandex when I'm on a long ride or a cycle tour, but I wear a cute skort over top so that I can blend in with the locals when I stop off at a café for an espresso. There is always a way to look cycle chic, you just have to find your cycle chic.

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