Oh, the summer of 2008. Memorable for many reasons, one of them being that I had started a photography project, a decision that would change my life forever. Before that realisation came to be, my main motivation was to unwind and deflate from an absolutely crazy (and disastrous) year.
The topic was easy, one that I had chased off and on for years prior, but never in a ‘serious way’ because “it just seems way too obvious, somebody else must have already picked that up and ridden that rodeo”. I finally checked and there was absolutely nothing seriously dedicated or entertaining to be found. What the hell?
So it was happening. I was really going to focus and hone my craft on people on the move in the city of Amsterdam. Going from A to B, by bike, routinely. Mundane or literally a blind spot to the Dutch – to whom it’s the equivalent of talking about water coming from the tap -, yet mesmerizing to the rest of the world. Poetry in motion. I christened my place on the interwebs as ‘Amsterdamize‘, inspired by some Danish dude I discovered a few months later, who had ‘Copenhagenize’ already rolling.
Come 2009, I had morphed into the role of a guide, providing a window into the history of urban (mobility) planning in the Netherlands, if you will. In an interview I lamented the fact that there wasn’t an international trade office for this particular and obviously successful Dutch expertise. From there, I transitioned into the self-appointed role of Ambassador of Sustainable Mobility. And it wasn’t even a joke, far from it.
In 2010 I devised a campaign concept and produced & directed the promotional film ‘Cycling for Everyone’ for the launch of the official Dutch Cycling Embassy, backed by the ministries of foreign and economic affairs. The film premiered at the Dutch Embassy in Brussels (which I barely made, after pulling a one-nighter to finish the edit), and my then extremely hot Twitter account took care of the rest online. (The red carpet and ‘Cycling for Everyone’ being the opening film at the Cinemambiente Sustainable Film Festival in Torino of 2014 were just icing on the cake.)
But let me get back on track. In april 2011 I was hired by the Dutch Consulate in NYC to represent the Netherlands at a bicycle industry event in Midtown, near the East River, which celebrated the resurgence of cycling and the commitment shown by the NYC mayor’s office to build appropriate infrastructure. It was an opportunity to meet and catch up with quite a few bicycle-nutty American and expatriate friends, including the photographer Dmitry Gudkov.
Not coincidentally, the event was planned around the annual 5Boro Bike Tour (yes, going through the five boroughs of NYC), which I joined and photographed/filmed while cycling.
I was one of the 35.000 souls participating. I rode with my NYC pals, one of them being Steve, the cycle advocate / lawyer. Midway the tour we steered away from the swarm, going rogue as the Un-5Boro Touring Pack.
Now that the preface of this story is out of the way, let’s work our way to the main dish. The east side of the BQE was reserved for the 5Boro. However, someone out in front had crashed and the whole peloton came to (what would be) a 3 hour gridlock, ironically.
Standing and waiting there, mingling with people on bikes from all over the States and other parts of the world (*cough, Dutch, cough*), I spotted two faces in a window of a boxy apartment building, right off the BQE. Local residents, presumably bewildered about the scene that unfolded.
I mounted my 135mm and I yelled: “Sorry about the mess!” [….] Click.