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).
A GREAT IDEA HAS WINGS:
HERE’S A NUMBER LUUD CAME UP WITH IN 1967 (that it took the world a full generation to understand and finally equal).
The number was 10,000.
(But it was not only a number — it was at its base a wonderful, original and city-transforming, environmental and life quality concept.)
This was the number of white bicycles that Mr. Schimmelpennink proposed in his public bike master plan for Amsterdam in 1967. (Proposal rejected by the municipal council.)
After that radio silence on the post-White Bike front for seven years. It took until 1974 for the first new public bike project when the city of La Rochelle launched a free bike-sharing programme, Vélos Jaunes (Yellow Bikes). Followed at first slowly, cautiously but then increasingly with a mounting wave of tidy new projects, most in Europe, most successful, and almost all of them small.
In the 1960s, a Dutchman named Luud Schimmelpennink created a ‘”white bike” plan to fight against harmful pollution and cars. His invention has changed public transportation around the world. So why did his bicycle-loving home city never embrace it?
To understand Luud Schimmelpennink’s White Bicycle Plan, it helps to have a look at the broader context of values, philosophy and politics that were prevailing in Amsterdam at that time – the Provos, a Dutch counterculture youth movement in the mid-1960s.
I propose we keep this simple and collaborative. Starting as we did yesterday with a simple announcement suggesting that perhaps this could be an idea well worth pursuing, together. And then as a next step in this process opening up several coordinated channels for your thoughts, comments and perhaps additional articles and references on Luud’s work and contributions that may, small step by small step, start to give us a firmer foundation to pursue this idea.
So at this point I believe that my best contribution will not be to add additional essays with my own thoughts and reasons on this, but rather to open up the field for sharing your thoughts.