11 April 2012

Multi-faith Bicycles in Antwerp

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
What IS it about Antwerp? Like I've been blogging about, it's quite a suprising city on so many levels. Here's another example.

While many "bicycle enthusiasts" get all neo-sanctimonious about bicycles, let's see how "religious enthusiasts" use the bicycle. Oh, wait... they use it just like any other Citizen Cyclist. 

The Muslim community in the Borgerhout neighourhood of Antwerp arranged a bike ride. Participants paid €2 to take part and the proceeds went to a school project in Kebdana, a village in Northern Morocco. They also hoped to promote better bicycle facilities and parking, as well as bringing all the different people in the community together.

The Fietsersbond donated two bikes to Kebdana and two others to teach new arrivals from Morocco how to cycle.

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
My friend Stef, from the Belgian NGO Fietsersbond.be took these shots a few weeks back.
Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
The ride went past six different mosques and it was promoted by the imams - top photo. Each mosque got a banner that reads: "Borgerhout Cycles! And this mosque is in on it, too".

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
A festive day by all accounts. A repeat next year is on the cards.

Heres a film about ride from the website Steunproject.be.
Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
Of course, a bicycle repair cargo bike was on hand, too.

Okay. Cool, right? Wait til you see what goes on in another neighbourhood in Antwerp.
Antwerp Religious Transport_7
Copenhagenize Consulting were talking to an architect in Israel last year. He lives in a town with a lot of Hasidics and was wondering how to get them onto bicycles. They lacked role models, basically. I figured that getting photos of like-minded Hasidics in other countries would help. In the neighbourhoods in Montreal with a lot of Hasidics, I've heard that many of them ride bicycles but I've never caught a photo of it.

I've more than made up for it. Last Saturday I rode through this Antwerp neighbourhood and it was a buzz with bicycles. I love the above shot - two citizens from different backgrounds have a chat on their bicycles.

Antwerp Religious Transport_6
Everywhere I looked, there were Hasidics moving about their 'hood on bicycles.
Antwerp Religious Transport Antwerp Religious Transport_4
Antwerp Religious Transport_1 Antwerp Religious Transport_2

Go Antwerp! Fantastic.

The Hasidic community in Brooklyn have made themselves famous by their opposition to bike lanes through their neighbourhood. But I'm curious if any New York readers could tell us if they ride bicycles?

So while were on the 'Bicycles Bring the World Together After Religion Screwed It Up' topic, let's get some of the others into the post:
priest on a bike Monks cycling in Luang Prabang
Catholic priest in the Netherlands, via Daniel Rink on Flickr. Buddhist monks in Laos, via Exodus Travels on Flickr.
Nuns on bicycle... NYC-Nun
Nuns on bicycles in Poland, via Klearchos Kapoutsis on Flickr and a nun in New York City, via Warzerjaff on Flickr.

Oh, and here's a humanist, for good measure:
The Rugger Bike - By Gant


shuichi said...

I am staying in Hong Kong this month. It is a pity that there is few cyclists in most cities in Hong Kong. I prefer Antwerp.

Anonymous said...

don't forget the Mormons, they usually ride in twos.

Evan said...

Yes! There are a few of the Hasidic community (men only of course)here in Brooklyn who ride bicycles. Their preferred mode of transportation is the mini-van but I always wanna do a little fist pump when I see them choosing bikes over cars.

Mikael Colville-Andersen said...

cool, thanks, evan! same in montreal. minivans galore.

lagatta à montréal said...

If only they actually WERE minivans! I'm at the Outremont Library now and practically got run over by a Hassid driving a huge, black tank of a maxivan. I've also had a very nasty run-in with a couple of them - two Hassidic men in "mini" vans - one falsely accused me of running a stop sign, and the other stepped in to have his back.

There is a photo of a Hassidic cyclist in Outremont at montreal cycle chic. No, teenaged girls past puberty and women never ride in that community - Only men, boys and small girls. They must think it is immodest, even if the women are modestly dressed.

On the other hand, in Amsterdam East, I often see Muslim women and girls cycling - usually they are just in jeans and wearing a hijab, but I've seen young women wearing those black scarf/cape garments over a long black dress (that might be called a jilbab?) And in Italy, I've often seen nuns and priests cycling.

There is a Buddhist temple near my house, and the monks there cycle too.

I loved the little video - typical Belgian/Dutch weather and all. You can observe safe crossing of tram tracks, and also some holes in the cycling infrastructure in the suburban area.

bikefish said...

Quakers bike too - Our Quaker Meeting House in Seattle has 6 lovely bike racks in front that double as benches on the rare Sundays when they aren't full of bikes. Here's a photo on Flickr:
These bike racks were installed when the Meeting House was built in 1960.

Cheap Flights to Bangkok said...

Our moment had passed somehow. I was different. He was, too. Without our “madness” to unite us, there wasn’t anything much there. Or maybe too much had happened in too short a time. It’s like when you take a trip with someone you don’t know very well. Sometimes you can get very close very quickly, but then after the trip is over, you realise all that was a false sort of closeness. An intimacy based on the trip more than the travellers, if that makes any sense.

Jean said...

It would be great in the more stricter Muslim and Hasidic sects, to have more women cycling.

In Saudi Arabia, women and girls aren't encouraged to cycle. It's a big deal for some women to drive. That's another story... and it's the 21st century in an oil rich country.

FrFintonStack said...

I was a bit miffed at the supposed reluctance of Brooklyn Hasidic Jews to adopt cycling. You see plenty of Hasids on bikes around Stamford Hill and Stoke Newington in London. I overtook a couple on my ride home night before last.

As for female Hasids cycling: would you notice them? Unlike the men, they tend to dress conventionally (if somewhat conservatively)