Accelerate Awareness with Arjen Haayman
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Accelerate Awareness with Arjen Haayman

By Yashita Arora on

This interview is with Arjen Haayman, Technical Consultant at IMAGEM who has taken it upon himself to ride his bike for 1100+ kilometres, from the Netherlands to Poland to reduce his carbon footprint. This is his story:


Tell us about yourself

My name is Arjen Haayman, I’m 55 years old, live in Deventer (in the Netherlands) with my wife, kids and pets. Since 2015, I have been working for IMAGEM as a technical consultant and I ride my bike to the office in Apeldoorn every day. In my spare time, I like acting in local theatre groups or cross-country biking with special interest groups.

Why do you prefer biking?

Five reasons that matter the most to me – environment, health, speed, money and fun. Biking is good for the environment as it reduces emissions compared to motorised transportation. It’s also good for the health. With 35 kilometres of biking to and from the office 5 days a week, I never have to go to the gym. The ride everyday combines fun with speed, I can be out in fresh air and avoid traffic thanks to the bike lanes in the Netherlands. It’s also cost-effective – save about €1500/year in costs by using the bike regularly.

You mentioned the environment. Do you feel strongly about it?

I do. Motorised transportation (flights, cars, trains, buses) is quick and convenient no doubt, but do we ever stop to think their effect on environment? Emissions from transportation are a big contributor to pollution and global warming. Often there are opportunities to reduce carbon footprints in transportation by making smarter decisions. That’s what I do by riding my bike regularly and on exception taking the train (they run on wind energy in the Netherlands). However, I prefer to lead by example rather than preaching.

Soon you’ll be biking from the Netherlands to Poland.

Yes, I’ll be biking for over 1100 kilometres and am very excited. It’s going to take me 5-7 days at the rate of going 160-200 kilometres a day.

Why are you making this trip?

I had to be in Poland for a business trip, and it occurred to me that I could ride my bike all the way. Our family vacations always include biking days and we’ve biked for day-tours in Southern Europe, USA and Indonesia. This is different as it has days of biking at a go, but I was enthusiastic nonetheless. Once I was comfortable with the idea, I connected with my biking groups. People who had biked from the Netherlands all the way to Moscow, Russia and around the world encouraged me. It would be exciting to see Germany and Poland through little villages and the country-side rather than aerially or through the highway. It’s doable but time-consuming, and I’ve used my vacation days for the travel time.

Share the road trip plans

I’ll be starting on the weekend of 28-29 October 2017 from Deventer, the Netherlands. Every day will have the same routine – start right after breakfast once it’s light outside. Bike till lunch and start again. Stop for dinner and sleep. I’ll be tracking my heart rate to maintain a certain level and not exhaust myself. Every day is planned so I know where I will make stops to eat, rest, or get help.

How do you intend to keep yourself entertained?

Mostly by looking around. I’ve heard great things about the German and Polish country-side. But I am also going to listen to podcasts and audio books.

It’s getting colder. Are you prepared for it?

It’s not just colder, but the days are shorter and there’s chance of rain. The average temperature will be 10 degrees Celsius which is very comfortable to ride in. I have a roof for my bike if it starts raining or snowing.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I wouldn’t want to preach but do suggest that everyone should do something – large or small – to contribute to a healthier environment. Climate change is primarily influenced by man-made factors and every small action we make affects the environment – positively or negatively. Biking to avoid unnecessary emissions is my contribution.

Arjen with his special bike. Follow him on Twitter @haayman


Tell us how you’re helping the environment. Simply tweet your photo in action using @ImagemNL and #AccelerateAwareness. You could be riding your bike instead of riding/taking a motor vehicle, recycling, or watering trees. Every action counts.