Column: Why the UT should replace bikes with horses

| Bas Leijser

In this biweekly column, Bas Leijser gives his unfiltered opinion on university life, with a bit of sarcasm and Dutch directness mixed in. In his free time, Bas likes to graduate for his master in Civil Engineering & Management.


The way I see it, the University of Twente is facing two problems. One: Wageningen University has us beat in the national university ranking. Two: There are too many damn bicycles.

Let’s start with the latter. The underlying problem can be twofold. Either there are too many students, or not enough bikes are getting stolen. The first cause seems to be the most likely, considering the current German population that is taking social studies.

I distinctly remember that, about two years ago, the university started a crusade against the bike invasion. Brave crusaders, armed with four-wheel trailers, took on a daily pilgrimage to the Waaier and adjacent bike parking lots.

There, they would stealthily kidnap all the bikes that were not placed in a rack correctly, and bring them back to the Holy Land beyond the fortifications of the Spiegel security office.

Victimized students, crushed by the loss of their bike, their childhood forever tarnished, would have to trek to the Spiegel and engage in careful negotiations to get their bike back.

For some, this was the Dark Age of the university. However, I’d say that it was a cultural renaissance that we should re-establish, in order to stem back the tide of the current bike invasion.

Or, perhaps there is another solution. One that kills two birds with one stone and allows us to simultaneously beat Wageningen (to any WUR students reading this, no animals were harmed in the writing of this article).

I propose that all bicycles will be banned from campus and that horses will be the new primary method of transportation.

That is, you get a horse if you have accumulated at least 120 ECTS. Junior students get a pony, or a donkey if you are one of the unlucky few who has to go through an initiation period (in Dutch: ontgroening).

This fits well with the horse symbol of Twente and will drastically improve the satisfaction of students. Costs should not be a problem. The UT is bound to receive 6.5 million euros anyway to invest in the quality of education (a direct result of us losing our study grants), I’d say that this fits that purpose really well.

It can even lead to some new study programmes and minors. What to think of the track ‘Animal Communication Science’, ‘Equine Gender Studies’, and ‘Creative Hoof Technology’.

And of course, the executive board would get their own Victoria-style horse-drawn carriage.

You may be wondering: doesn’t a horse take up more space than a bike? While this is true, the great advantage here is that we can just let the horses (or donkeys) roam freely. So, there would always be one available.

And thus, we would be the world’s first ‘smart city’ campus with a complete vehicle ownership shift and 100% sustainable transport. Beat that, Wageningen UR.