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Veronika Mutsei, who started an NGO called Zeilen van Vrijheid is coordinating the donations process, Source: City of Amsterdam

Amsterdam donates forgotten bikes to Ukraine

Amsterdam donates forgotten bikes to Ukraine

With expensive or unavailable fuel and damaged infrastructure, aid workers need bikes to travel long distances

Yesterday, local authorities in Amsterdam announced a joint project with a Ukrainian volunteer group to help bring bicycles into the country. Since the start of the Russian invasion, much of the key car infrastructure, especially near the front line has been damaged.

Additionally, gasoline is expensive or unavailable and so is finding a car. However, considering that there are still millions of people living in Ukraine, there are a lot of aid workers and medical staff who need to get to remote or cut-off places.

The bicycle would be a perfect replacement for the car in this case, as it allows people a lot more flexibility, especially while traversing damaged infrastructure. Amsterdam, meanwhile, is one of the most cycling-prolific cities in Europe, making the two a perfect fit.

Forgotten bikes for Ukraine

The project started out with one Veronika Mutsei, an Amsterdam resident born in Kyiv. At the start of the war, she set up a foundation called Zeilen van Vrijheid (Sailing for Freedom). First, she started by driving discarded ambulances, filled to the brim with medical equipment and now she is moving towards distributing bikes.

According to a statement by the city, originally, she put out an open call on social media for bike donations, which eventually led to her actively cooperating with the Amsterdam Bicycle Depot (Fietsdepot Amsterdam).

The Bicycle Depot, in its own right, donated bicycles that were left behind and forgotten, just sitting in storage. Furthermore, Veronika helped select the bicycles as she explained, Ukraine needs sturdy and easy-to-fix classic bikes, as opposed to fancy, electric ones.

She continued: “We do not need expensive bikes, but solid bikes that can take a beating”.  The bikes are then sent to a distribution centre in Ukraine where they go through a technical check-up or repair, repaint and go where they need to be.

Deputy Mayor Melanie van der Horst was quoted in a press statement, explaining the municipality sympathizes with the difficult situation in which the Ukrainians find themselves. She continued by hammering the point that Amsterdam is a cycling city and it can make a small contribution that can go a long way.  

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