As an everyday sight in Amsterdam, bikes come as no surprise to tourists and locals alike. Some bikes do stand out however with their floral decoration and bright colors dominating the street.
These are the creations of “The Flower Bike Man”. His real name is Warren Gregory, aged 49. With a voice like Jeff Bridges, and a warm hippie vibe, Warren hails from Florida. The beauty all started after his wife lost her bike at Central station when they were living here 15 years ago. Thus, he began his journey with one simple bouquet to help distinguish his wife’s bike from the others. When they moved back to Florida, his wife, Michelle who has very bad epilepsy, found that one street in Florida gave her confusion when she suffered from a memory lapse. He decided to take a bike and matched the colors of the flowers to the house on that street, and from that point on, she no longer had issues recognizing that street.
He and his wife moved back to Amsterdam about a year ago, taking 12 of his 250 bikes with him via plane and shipping container across the ocean. Included in his collection are his Raleigh, Huffy, and Madwagon-combo-trailer. Thus far he has had 10 bikes given to him in Amsterdam, otherwise, he uses abandoned bikes to make his art. Many of these bikes were decorated before he arrived in the Netherlands soil, but he has added some flourishes since. He has, unfortunately, had many thefts of his decorations. He isn’t sure why people do it but has also experienced a positive result of such vandalism. A traveling American family saw Warren’s “Packer’s” (an American football team) and learned about the vandalism. Feeling Wisconsin pride and generosity the family started a Go-Fund me page and raised 600$ to help reimburse his losses.
His bikes have since come to represent something much more than love and happiness, sometimes intentional and sometimes not. He laughs and says, “It’s just a bike”.
Overall, his message comes as light out of darkness, his own traumatic experiences led him to escape back to Amsterdam. Here, he feels safe to share his story alongside his positive message. He witnessed police brutality and has since been a victim of it due to this officer trying to cover his own tracks. The story as Warren tells it is such:
He witnessed an Officer Roque grab a woman, hit her in the face and put her head down. This officer proceeded to rape this woman. This woman and Warren later chatted, and she warned Warren that this officer “will bury you”. The town paid for a lawyer for Warren, but it wasn’t enough. The police reported five new false charges, which is in his case against Tarpon Springs. Before the case was even filed, he said “[the police officer] offered me 200,000”.
This woman, unfortunately, has since overdosed. Thus, her testimony is no longer possible in a court of law. However, these false charges are still on his records. He’s been attacked, as has his epileptic wife. She still suffers from brain damage from these incidents. They fled to the Netherlands and created the Instagram account to try and keep his safety, by “creating this entity to protect myself.”
He maintains such inspirational hope after all these incidents, continuing to create bikes to see people smile. “That’s how I know the energy works so much because it came from such dark energy.” People call him an artist and often insist on paying him for his work. Ultimately, he hangs on to the original reason for creating his bikes: his wife. He doesn’t mind the title, as so much positive energy has come from his creations. His intention has never been to sell, though he has gotten some free dinners and occasionally some pocket change for his bikes. He has made a bike for the Fietstallen in the North, as well as the Pizza Bakers there. He says, “for me, seeing the bike I created is enough”.
By Kelsey Doolittle. Kelsey Doolittle moved to Amsterdam about 10 months ago from Chicago. She’s always been an artist, creating whenever and however she can. Kelsey is currently a student studying informational sciences.
She would love to try out street art of any kind – but mainly Kelsey loves to meet mind liked & creative people.