Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cycling in Amsterdam

The title of this post is sort of misleading, as I didn't actually cycle while I was in Amsterdam. I'd planned to rent a sturdy Dutch bike to check out the famed separated city bikelanes and to tour around the city, but my visit was short and rainy and I didn't end up making the time to rent a bike.
(by the way, those are Van Gogh Dutch bikes pictured above-- almond blossom and sunflowers. As Dan said, they are single
(g)eared. Hee hee)

(bikes are parked everywhere, and are left outside on the sidewalk overnight rather than carried into homes)

Or at least, that's my story. The truth was that I was a bit intimidated by the commuter riding scene in Amsterdam. Pre-conceptions of stately riders gliding along on clunky city bikes were smashed: the commuter riding is strong, fast-paced and assertive and the traffic flow was simply immense. Hundreds and hundreds of cyclists flowing through the separated bikeways, which cross tram, auto and pedestrian paths at regular intervals. Men in suits, women in heels, students talking on cell phones while steering with one hand, folks carrying groceries and other cargo (large boxes! potted plants!) and lots of parents transporting kids, from small babes in carriers on the handlebars to larger kids on the rear, sitting on the top tube and even dedicated kid cargo carriers (see below). I consider myself a seasoned urban commuter (despite my car-focused commute at the moment). But, this was new ground and I didn't know the rules. (Ladyfleur has a few remarks on this in her post on Amsterdam riding). I am sometimes a bit self-conscious (like to look like I am not a tourist!), and this + the rain tipped the balance of my activities towards walking.

(pretty pink panniers, and waterproof to boot. I want!)

It was neat to see bike dominance- the cars were a tiny minority of the traffic. This video gives a flavor of traffic flow and dynamic of the separated bike lanes mid-day. The rush-hour commute volume was easily an order of magnitude greater than shown in this video.

(motorcycle type windscreen)

I also developed an appreciation for the Dutch commuter bike and the practical accessories seen on many bikes: super sturdy front racks, hub-based generator lights (lights are required at night and most people had them), panniers for cargo carrying, and a variety of kid carrying options: seats mounted front and rear, kid trailers, and even an extra saddle mounted on the top tube, so that the little one is sitting in front of the adult with hands resting on the bars. It was cool to see kids chattering with parents as they rode together on one bike.

(bikes are parked everywhere, including on the canal bridges)

I wish now that I had rented a bike, but there is always the next trip to look forward too! I think if I'd had another day in the city and/or dryer weather, I'd have taken the plunge.


Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi, I came here from a forum I had found a link to while trying to figure out how to take cafe of my finger with Gelfoam on it. I'm not a member of that forum, so couldn't leave a comment there.

I'll have to call the urgent care center that applied the Gelfoam to my cut. I am not sure if I am supposed to let it get wet. It feels like I have a large chunk of something attached to my finger that shouldn't be there. It's only been 2 days, so I better learn to live with it. If you get a chance, let me know how you kept your wound clean with it.

I enjoyed your post and photos of all those bicycles. I am a blogger, too.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Oh, and I won't remove mine!

NadiaMac said...

Hi Sue, thanks for the comments! It's been a while since I had the gel foam, but I think it tried to avoid getting it wet.
Basically, you just leave it in place and it does its thing. I had a similar sensations of having something alien stuck to my finger. Hope this is useful