Shirley Agudo is an American photographer and author living in the Netherlands. As a photographer, she is represented by Eduard Planting Gallery, Fine Art Photographs, in Amsterdam (www.eduardplanting.com). Her work has been exhibited around the world, and her specialty is street photography, about which she conducts workshops in Amsterdam.
The Dutch & Their Bikes: Scenes from a Nation of Cyclists, is Agudo’s sixth book. Her previous books are: Bicycle Mania Holland; Fodor’s Holland (Random House); Hot Pink; Network Your Way to Success (with C. Ruffolo); and Here’s Holland (with S. Gazaleh-Weevers and C. Moser).
Shirley talks about her book The Dutch & Their Bikes on Youtube
All Shirley's Articles
For someone for whom the buzz of Amsterdam leaves her breathless, I would have never guessed that The Hague would knock my socks off. Yet it’s true: Den Haag has also stolen my heart. Two days of intense touring there… read more >
The HagueFor someone for whom the buzz of Amsterdam leaves her breathless, I would have never guessed that The Hague would knock my socks off. Yet it’s true: Den Haag has also stolen my heart. Two days of intense touring there and I’m totally hooked. It would take the entire XPat Journal to do it justice, but I’ll share a bit of the magic with you here. The Enchanting Lady The Hague is so special that it has not one name but three. This chic, enchanting lady is officially called ‘s-Gravenhage, yet is most commonly known as Den Haag. Worldwide, everyone knows it as ‘The Hague’ – a city renowned for its International Court of Justice where many infamous people are tried for their crimes against humanity. As the government seat of the Netherlands, The Hague is paradoxically not its capital, which is Amsterdam. King Willem-Alexander works here – in Noordeinde Palace – and there’s a decided air of royalty and class here in this city of almost 526,000 people, in sharp contrast to the exuberant, non-stop, anything-goes vibe of Amsterdam. The city may indeed be tied up in politics, but beneath that sheath of armor is an undergarment of the finest silk, and a treasure chest of things to do and see. www.binnenstaddenhaag.com www.citymondial.nl www.denhaag.com read more >
Yes, I know, there are many good things about owning my own business (will someone please remind me what they are?) – but right now I’m feeling a bit out of stock on positive reasons. I knew I was suffering… read more >
Running (or Ruining) Your Own BusinessYes, I know, there are many good things about owning my own business (will someone please remind me what they are?) – but right now I’m feeling a bit out of stock on positive reasons. I knew I was suffering from a severe case of self-employment affirmation deficit syndrome when people in the Netherlands kept asking me “So, where did you go on holiday this summer?” – assuming that I had gone away like most everyone else for two or three weeks. “Oh…,” I said rather innocently, “was I supposed to go on holiday?” “You see,” I explained time and again to various people with rather perplexed looks on their faces, “I’m self-employed. No one told me it was time to take a vacation. No one asked me to fill in my holidays on the company agenda. No one said, ‘You have 37 paid days off plus another umpteen national paid holidays.’ …I work for myself, and there are no such holidays. In fact, I also work almost every weekend. I write and edit books, and publishing deadlines wait for no one. In fact, there’s always an urgent one pending. ” “Holiday?” I quipped. “What’s that?” Oh yes, the joys of self-employment: no set holidays or even a reminder to take them, the maddeningly gruesome administration and constant invoicing to clients (no automatic monthly deposit into my bank account from an employer), the interminable fee negotiations that always seem either ‘too high’ or ‘too low’, and the overriding disadvantage: the lack of a stabile income (it’s always feast or famine, with a huge emphasis on the latter). I can just hear readers wanting to interrupt me now. “But… but… but…,” you say. Yes, I know full well the advantages of self-employment, but sometimes I wonder whether they outweigh the disadvantages.… read more >
How does an American man from Brooklyn, New York move to Amsterdam, marry a Japanese woman that he met on a 7-passenger ‘Conference Bike’, start a Dutch bicycle business and only seven years later receive the 2010 popular choice award… read more >
Henry Cutler’s Lucky SevenHow does an American man from Brooklyn, New York move to Amsterdam, marry a Japanese woman that he met on a 7-passenger ‘Conference Bike’, start a Dutch bicycle business and only seven years later receive the 2010 popular choice award for ‘Best Bike Shop in Amsterdam’? Meet Henry Cutler. Founder and Director extraordinaire of WorkCycles. An understated dynamo. That’s how I would describe American expat Henry Cutler in his Amsterdam cycling nirvana – the much-lauded WorkCycles business that he founded seven lucky years ago, in 2003. For many, it’s a bicycle Mecca with American-style service and a very clear mission. “The bicycle,” Henry maintains, “is a perfect example of the beautiful minimalism the world should adopt to continue forward. We promote everyday cycling amongst individuals, families and enterprises by supplying the most practical, beautiful and affordable bicycles possible and by providing an unmatched level of service.” And that he does – he and his staff of nine (at two locations in Amsterdam), who all embrace the cycling mentality of the Dutch, and particularly of Amsterdam that, according to Henry (and virtually everyone else) is “the world’s city cycling capital”. “Every WorkCycles employee cycles to work every day,” reports Henry, “not out of idealism or self-sacrifice but because that’s just the best way to get around. Actually from our perspective it’s the only way to get around. In a town where it’s as normal as day and night to ride bikes, one hardly even knows how to go about their business by another mode of transport. I’d rather just get wet on a rainy day than search out the best way to go by tram. I find driving a car annoying only partially because of the traffic. The bigger issue is that I just don’t know which routes to take, what… read more >
Education – the theme of this issue – and wisdom are two entirely different things. We all want our children to get a good education, with the requisite diplomas and academic degrees added to their repertoire and their CVs. But… read more >
Education versus WisdomEducation – the theme of this issue – and wisdom are two entirely different things. We all want our children to get a good education, with the requisite diplomas and academic degrees added to their repertoire and their CVs. But will they find wisdom in their education? Not necessarily. An even better answer would be: probably not. Wisdom is a cache that is difficult to acquire. It’s ephemeral, obscure, and most often not included in a school curriculum. Let’s face it, how many times have you seen ‘Wisdom’ listed on a high school course roster? I thought so. Never. We educate our children to the hilt, and that’s good. I know, because I have two grown and well-educated daughters – one a US attorney and the other a journalist and budding author – and their education has always been a priority. But, I ask myself, have they acquired wisdom yet? Probably not… or, at the very most, a limited amount. Wisdom, I believe, comes with age. You learn as you go. Life experiences teach us what is wise and what is not. Have you ever noticed the look of utter contentment and calm on the faces of the elderly? I believe it comes, at least partially, from wisdom. The wisdom of knowing what is worth worrying about in life and what is not. The wisdom of knowing when to let go of something or someone, and when to hold on… tight. In essence, the wisdom of knowing what is ultimately important in life and what is not. No one teaches us those things in school. One and one sometimes make more than two in real life; sometimes they make three or even four, depending on the circumstances. The mathematics of life don’t always figure. One can indeed read about wisdom… read more >
Every expat living in Holland knows that there are a lot of bikes and cyclists here. But did you realize that Holland is regarded as the best cycling nation on the planet? Well, it’s true. Cycling is a very hot… read more >
Simply the Best!Every expat living in Holland knows that there are a lot of bikes and cyclists here. But did you realize that Holland is regarded as the best cycling nation on the planet? Well, it’s true. Cycling is a very hot topic these days, as more and more countries around the world attempt to emulate the Dutch bicycle culture, whereby cycling is a way of life and a dedicated cycling infrastructure exists throughout the country. As the most cycling-friendly country on earth, Holland is home to a nation of everyday cyclists; virtually everyone cycles, day in and day out, and typically several times a day. It’s a primary means of transportation here – a way of getting from point A to point B most efficiently and cheaply – and people around the world are tuning in to the melodious Dutch sound of cycling. “The export from the Netherlands of bicycle-enabling policy instruments is booming,” cites Kaspar Hanenbergh of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Recently, urban motoring congestion traumas have renewed international interest in attempts to determine these Dutch ‘magic ingredients’ and copy them to Paris, London, New York or Barcelona.” What are those ‘magic ingredients’, then, and why do the Dutch cycle so much in the first place? The success story behind this much-admired bicycle culture includes a desire to be practical, efficient, economical, health-conscious and environment-conscious, plus a vast, well-thought-out, dedicated – and safe – cycling infrastructure and, above all, the Dutch government’s complete support of cycling as a highly valuable and viable means of transportation. According to HollandTrade.com, “‘Bikeability’ is something the Netherlands excels in. Urban planning incorporates cycling paths in the transportation network. There are separate traffic lights for cyclists and special signs to regulate cycling traffic. Children learn the traffic rules for cycling in special training courses… read more >