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April 27, 2010

Give them bikes and they will cycle

Visit Amsterdam and it’s impossible not to be struck by the overwhelming dominance of the bicycle. Back in the 60’s, the original Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike plan) – an anarchic free transport programme – was launched.  Although short lived, it is credited with inspiring the many Public Use Bicycle systems around the world.  Last week, Glasgow based arts charity, NVA, staged a re-enactment by releasing 50 white bikes onto an unsuspecting public

Give them bikes and they will cycle

Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike Plan)
Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2010
16 April – 3 May 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

NVA will be staging a re-enactment of the infamous Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike Plan) for Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2010.

The original Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike plan) was an anarchic free transport programme and the most famous manifesto of the Provos, the Dutch counter culture movement of the 1960’s. They released 50 or so, free to use, specially painted white bikes which were scattered across the city of Amsterdam. This was done as a statement against the rise of consumerism, pollution and congestion caused by the privately owned vehicle. Although the action was shortlived due to theft and vandalism, Provo members used seats on the local council to propose further large-scale white bike plans. The initiative stands as the source inspiration for the (PUB) Public Use Bicycle systems which have been updated and ‘officially’ replicated in cities worldwide.

NVA’s White Bike Plan will reference and reinvigorate this key legacy from the political, philosophical and ecological directives of the Dutch Provo movement. NVA are releasing 50 white bikes across the city. The Glasgow International audience is free to use these bikes to travel around town and between venues for the duration of the festival.

There will be a central drop-off point at the Glasgow International Festival Hub courtyard on 54 Miller St each night until 9.30pm as well as bike drop points at other main festival venues. The universal combination lock code for the bikes is 6510. NVA have published a Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike plan) pamphlet which will be available at the Miller Street Hub and the other festival venues. You can also download a PDF version to print at home HERE.

Following this festival period, the remaining bikes will be donated for further public use around Glasgow especially to small local schemes where bike provision would be useful.

NVA seeks to champion a dialogical public art form based around key issues facing society. Our approach is a collective one: both through artistic development and in encouraging audiences to participate physically and creatively in the making of each work; we also seek to bridge the gap between political strategy and practical implementation. The White Bike Plan is art re-positioning an original historic action through its contemporary re-enactment.

NVA have curated a small exhibition on the Provo’s Witte Fietsenplan at the Glasgow International Hub at 54 Miller Street. Opening times of exhibition: 10am – 8pm daily throughout the festival.