More Biking in Amsterdam

With all the stories of gentleman riding bikes in tweed jackets and ladies riding in skirts and spike heels and moms toting toddlers to daycare, you might think that bicycling in Amsterdam is a breeze, or a walk in the park, or something that seems very easy.  Well, sorta…

There are dedicated bike lines along most busy streets.  There are separate traffic signals for people, bikes, and cars. There is a network of numbered bike routes throughout the entire country.  The law says that the slowest and most vulnerable form of transportation has the right of way, hence:  pedestrians, bikes, cars–in that order.  The bicycling injury rate in  Holland is 1/5 to 1/9 per billion miles cycled compared to the United States, even though no one wears helmets.

All that is well and good.  For the tourist spending only a day or two in Amsterdam, bicycling is a bit chaotic.  On the narrow streets along the canals, pedestrians, bikes, and cars mix.  Bikes rule and are the fastest.  Amsterdam’ers aren’t out for a leisurely jaunt; they’re going to work, to school, to a date and they’re in a hurry–and you, silly tourist, are in the way.  Don’t stop to make a left turn–just time your turn to go in between the 3-wheeled delivery truck, the Mercedes-Benz taxi, the chic young woman texting while riding, and the elderly woman walking her wire-haired dachshund.  You’ll make it…

It’s rumored there are 18 million bikes for the 16 million people of the Netherlands.  About of million of those bikes are parked outside the Amsterdam Central Station in this double-decker bike parking structure.

double-decker-bikes

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