How do you get people to actually watch a video about bike safety? Make it as ridiculous as possible.
Since tourists in Amsterdam usually don’t quite know how to ride a bike with so many other cyclists around, the city decided to make a new video to teach them. But the “bike instructor” in the video, who sounds a little like a Muppet with an overplayed Dutch accent, doesn’t hand out standard tips.
Wearing head-to-toe cycling gear as everyone else rides by in everyday clothes, he shows tourists how to warm up for a ride with a little hula hoop-like dance, and how to get on a bike if you can’t figure out how to swing your leg over the frame. Even helpful reminders are delivered as jokes: Stop at pedestrian crossings “even if these persons are very ugly or old,” and cross tram rails at the right angle, or “otherwise you get in the rails and become yourself a trammie.” The video even gently makes fun of the city’s mayor.
It’s all meant to serve a real purpose. “More and more tourists find their way to Amsterdam,” says Tomas Scheen, who works in the city’s traffic and public space department. Tourism has increased about 51% over the last six years, and 10% of tourists choose to bike while they’re in town. “Some of them are not familiar to bike in a city like Amsterdam, with trams, cars and a lot of other cyclists. That is why we want to prepare them for this trip.”
By making it a little more entertaining than usual, they’re hoping more people will actually learn something. “We also use more formal flyers with information,” he says. “In this video we choose to use humor to spread the message. I think it helped.” So far, around 200,000 people have watched.