I am a big fan of city cycling. Of course, this requires that cities have the right infrastructure, or are willing to invest in it. But infrastructure isn’t everything. Cycling has to be appealing: time-efficient, healthy, environmentally-friendly, money-saving, sophisticated and fun. Every year, the ‘Noorderzon Jazz Festival’ is held in the Dutch city of Groningen. During the final days, a jazz-bicycle tour takes place in the surrounding villages. While the Dutch love the bicycle (already), it’s a great way to reinforce this behaviour. Jazz and blues concerts, featuring Dutch and international artists, are held in 16th Century churches, old barns with farm animals, or in village squares – many only accessible by bike. It’s sophisticated and fun and brings out the most seasoned cyclists, or reminds more rusty drivers of why they love the bike.
The weather wasn’t great, but that’s what rain gear is for, always tucked into a bike bag. The music was impressive and we came away inspired and refreshed, having enjoyed exercise and entertainment all at once. I would recommend the festival for anyone in Groningen in late August, or for another city attempting to link its centre and surrounding: via cycling and musical entertainment.