The Fascinating Process of Dredging Drowned Bicycles From Amsterdam Canals Using a Giant Claw Machine

Amsterdam is a city widely known for the crazy amount of ubiquitous bicycles that reside above ground, but less-publicized are the unfortunate ones that meet their end at the bottom of a canal. In 2011, Isabelle Harder captured fascinating footage of a giant claw machine perched atop a barge that was dredging bicycles up from canal floors.

Countless old bikes are dredged from Amsterdam canals using a crane and barge. How did hundreds of lost vintage Dutch bikes get in the canals… no one knows. Many treasures were discovered.

In 2012, audiochapter also captured the bicycle fishing process, but from a different angle and provided a bit of background on the project.

The Amsterdam municipality contracts with waste recycle companies to buy the metal debris that is periodically pulled from the canals by city workers. These barges and cranes are active almost every day due to the size and complexity of the canal system. Bikes, shopping carts, wagons, and even an occasional car are found. Because this is not an exact science, much metal debris lies undiscovered for decades before being fished out. Only when a canal is drained for extensive renovation is it completely emptied of all the metal waste. Some canals have not been fully emptied for over 400 years!

Thanks Jason Scott!