Glasgow homage to Amsterdam’s historic White Bicycles


Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2010

“The White Bicycle Plan proposes to create bicycles for public use that cannot be locked. The white bicycle symbolizes simplicity and healthy living, as opposed to the gaudiness and filth of the authoritarian automobile.” (Provo Manifesto)

For Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2010, NVA staged a re-enactment of the infamous Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike Plan).

NVA’s White Bike Plan referenced and reinvigorated the political, philosophical and ecological directives of the Dutch Provo movement of the 1960’s. NVA released 50 white bikes across the city for the audience to freely use for travelling between venues for the three weeks of the festival.

A mass ‘Ride Out’ was staged to launch the call to action with all riders assembling at the Kelvingrove Park Fountain. The 50 White Bikes, accompanied by 150 cycling supporters, rode en masse from the park to George Square, stopping traffic in their wake. On arrival at George Square, the proclamation of the original manifesto was made in both Dutch and English while a bike was painted white in tribute to the original action.


The Main Event in Brief – Source:

At a little after noon, 100 or so cyclists pedalled into George Square amid much clapping and bell-ringing. A man in a blue peaked cap climbed on to a dais and painted a bicycle white, while two others addressed the crowd through a megaphone in alternate English and Dutch. “The White Bicycle will free us from the car-monster!” [Cheers.] “De Witte Fiets wil ons van die auto-monster bevrijden!” [More cheers.] “The White Bicycle is an anarchist!” [Loud cheers, ringing of bells.] “The White Bicycle will liberate us from bourgeois capitalism!” [Tumultuous cheers and ringing.] And then, variously, they all pedalled off again.

In case you didn’t get the reference, this was a re-enactment of the Witte Fietsenplan (White Bikes Project), an anarchist eco-action from 1960s Amsterdam, staged here by a Glaswegian environmental art group called NVA. For all its good nature, the happening had a serious intent. NVA stands for nacionale vitæ activa, a Latin tag exhorting the people to take politics into their own hands. The re-action is also there to help visitors to the festival get to its further-flung parts. (Various witte fietsen will be dotted around Glasgow, free for use and unlockable with the code 6510.)

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After three weeks on the streets of Glasgow, 23 of the bikes were retrieved, re-branded with the Amsterdam triple X logo on the forks, and donated to cycling charities across the city. The missing bikes have been spotted in Berlin, London and New York.

Central Station, an artists’ social network, commissioned a crowd-sourced film documenting the ‘Ride Out’. Click HERE to view.

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Thanks Luud References:
* World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities
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* Contact organizer: E. S. newmobbility T. +336 5088 0787

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