Warren - Flowerbike Man
American Warren Gregory (53) lives on a boat in Amsterdam-Noord with his wife Michelle. Warren is known as The ‘Flowerbike’ Man for his floral-decorated bicycles found throughout the city.
It was the accessibility, open attitude and friendliness of the residents that caused Warren to pledge his heart to Amsterdam. 'It hooked me right then and there. People smile at each other on the street and are not afraid to chat with a complete stranger. And, another big difference with the small town in Florida where I lived: people in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands regularly keep their curtains wide open! That's how everyone should live, I think: you have nothing to hide.'
Back to his roots
Warren’s arrival in Amsterdam was also coming home in a way, Warren says: "My grandmother and her parents are originally from The Netherlands but moved to Florida. When I came to Amsterdam for a short vacation, I was able to see for myself where I'm from. When my wife Michelle saw how good cycling in the city was for my health, she said: 'Why don't we move here?' After our vacation, we soon returned to Amsterdam."
Warren initially started decorating bikes to help his wife, Michelle. She has epilepsy and, as a result, kept getting lost on her way to work in Florida. The decorated bikes on her route were landmarks for her, like stacked stones for mountain hikers. After a city trip in Amsterdam, Michelle kept recalling the vacation: she wanted to go back, and as it turned out, she didn’t lose her way in Amsterdam. And so, after Warren and his wife's emigration, flower bikes have been an integral part of Amsterdam since 2018. 'For me, it's not necessarily about me being known for the bikes, but that they are a symbol for the severity of epilepsy and for Michelle. She probably won't remember you after she meets you, but Amsterdam will remember my Michelle.'
Safe and clean
Meanwhile, Warren feels like an Amsterdammer. 'I feel good here. I live a comfortable life, and I can honestly say that cycling in Amsterdam has saved me. Before I came here, I was overweight and had serious back problems. I have lost as much as 100 kilos by cycling a lot here. The bike lanes here are safe, and the streets are clean. That's a big difference from Florida, where I've had multiple accidents and dirty streets are everyday business.'
Not going back
Will he ever go back to America? 'No, at least not for the time being. Michelle feels good here and gets the medical care she needs. I'm happy here, too.' The only thing Warren believes may be lacking is his Dutch. 'I understand it quite well, but I worry more about how I sound,' he laughs. Warren’s story told through his iconic flower bikes, leaves an indelible impression on the city, where he has long since made his mark.