While touring across on foot, I came across this scene many a times. Tourists on yellow bicycles. I believe renting a bicycle is a good way of exploring the city. I am afraid of riding a bicycle though because of my vision problem.
I haven't hired myself a bicycle in Amsterdam; I used the canal boats and my feet instead. The traffic -even bicycle traffic- looked so skilled and hectic that I wouldn't have dared that time.
In Amsterdam there are specific areas/lines painted on the streets that are meant for those with bicycles.
Some of them - almost all of them - seem to go so fast. And one thing to remember - in this city it doesn't mean you are simple or poor if you just use your bicycle. It belongs to the city; its streets are narrow, those with bicycle are thinking people. I guess they get where they want faster than the others.
I enjoyed just watching this "art". And I would also call it art how some people marked their bicycles...or what would you say about this one in the picture? So Dutch...
According to a recent Gallup the Dutch feel very positive about cars (86%) and bicycles (84%). They are only 26% to feel positive about public transport.
Cycling is cheap, reliable (arriving on time). The problems are the bad weather (rain and wind) and the parking difficulties (look around the stations!) and bad driving cyclists.
In 2005 all Dutch drove 14 milliard (billion) Km. The Netherlands produced 967 thousand bicycles in 2006.
From my recent 5 day stay in Amsterdam it seems to me that their positive look at bicycles is forced by the politics imposing a ban on car traffic in this city. Walking in the residential area around the Museum Kwartier, which is not in the centre, I saw that parking on the street costs about 3 €/hour, about 25 € for 24 hours, even at night you have to pay for the parking! The residents pay a quarterly fee of 80 € I was told.
With such anti car tolls it is understandable that the Amsterdammers favour cycling.
What surprised me is that they don't wear protection helmets, fluorescent jackets or even anti rain clothes. I must say they are very skilful drivers, I saw no incident at all.
They don't mind about the rain for themselves or for their bikes which are parked outside day and night. Most bikes are somewhat rusty and you won't see expensive sport models. Interesting are the "bakfietsen = cargo bikes" with a large wooden box at the front wheel. This box is loaded with children and shopping.
A good point of all that biking is that there are no fat Amsterdammers, they are all slim and have muscled legs.
Personal experience of mine. If you are riding your bicycle in the middle of a small group of about 30 riders and you want to turn left or right - good luck. There are ways of doing it; I have personally seen it done with no injuries, but when I tried it... And guess who the other fallen riders get mad at? And they can swear in English, Dutch, German, French, and probably a couple of other languages. I didn't understand all of it, but it was obvious that I was the object of the well-deserved abuse. If you don't know how to negotiate turns, the safest transportation is walking. I don't think that Amsterdam is the safest place to relearn the art survival on two wheels. (I would have included a picture of the mess, but I was the one at the bottom of the pile.)
If you like to cycling, this is the right place. Bicycles and the drivers of them enjoys their privileges in Amsterdam.
The photo has some parked bicycles by the road. On the other side of the road there is a huge multi-storey bicycle parking lot. How could they find their bike in this mess?
As a person who does not believe in bicycles (I do not accept that I cannot ride one, I just do believe that "two points do not describe a plane") I felt myself in a fantastic city with alternative dimensions. I even saw ladies riding their bicycles with silk stockings! I cannot walk safely with silk stockings and high heels!!!
Seeing all these bikes in Amsterdam makes me feel like being in Beijing. SO many bikes it's incredible. Along the city you will see bikes parking here and there...simply everywhere. It's cheap, non polluted and esp. nice in the sunny days...so why not right? As a tourist, you can rent a bike and go around town with it as well. Easy to notice, the bikes for rent are different in red color...you'll notice it.
The major mode of travel in and around Amsterdam is the bicycle. To those who have not been in cities heavily populated with bicycles it can be somewhat challenging. Most people are tuned to look both ways for automobiles, but not behind them on the right and left for bicycles. For tourists in Amsterdam this can be a real problem. People who are not accustomed to pedestrian AND bicycle lanes don't think about which lane they are in. That can lead to an emergency room visit for the unsuspecting. The bicycle rider has a warning bell on his handle bars, but when he rings the bell, he has no idea ow which way the pedestrian will jump. It's called, "Take your best guess and pray." "Oops." It can take a long time to learn about bicycles or a short time. The harder the pedestrian is hit, the faster the learning process. One also has the rider to worry about because they can get hurt too, and guess who has the right-of-way? Right! The pedestrian doesn't if he is in the bike lane. If that is you, it will be a "bought" lesson. There are 5 rules:
1. Look left, right, and behind you, especially on your right side.
2. Bicycles traveling at at 15mph exert more force (and damage, of course) than you do at walking speed.
3. Bicycles have right of way, period.
4. It is always good to check your map or guidebook well away from ANY kind of traffic.
Since you are still reading, I may as well recommend seeing Amsterdam by bike. It is character-building but fun. In fact, take a bike tour with Mike's Bikes. The tours are easy, and the most fun, I have found. They will also teach you the "rules of the road" in Amsterdam. Have a ball!
Note: After looking at the pictures of the parked bikes, remember that there are another 100,000 or so being pedaled too.
The humble bicycle would appear to be the most common form of transport in Amsterdam. There are sqillions of the things with some impressive bike parks to hold the item until the owner has finished whatever business they are on.
Amsterdam has a great network of cycle lanes all over the city. These lanes are painted red with the cyclist having the right of way, always!! So be warned - if you stray onto the cycle lane you may get run over & it will be your fault. It's hard to remember this so just be wary when you hear a small bell ringing - it's likely a cyclist coming up behind you. Cue a famous Queen song........
IF U WANNA GET AROUND AMSTERDAM RENT A BIKE ITS UR BEST BET.. I WAS THERE IN 2005 AND I RENTED A BIKE THEN MY CUZIN GOT SICK OF IT CUZ HES LAZY AND RENTED A CAR BAD IDEA TO RENT A CAR WE HAD A TOM TOM GPS AND WENT TO GET SUMTHING 2 EAT AND CAME BACK AND THE WINDOW OF THE RENTAL WAS BUSTED OUT AND THEY STOLE THE TOM TOM WE HAD TO PAY LIKE 1000 EURO CUZ IT WASNT COVERD UNDER THE INSURANCE WHICH I THIN IS BS
This is a very typical cultural statement about the Netherlands, they are a people on wheels. I imagine having a country that is almost as flat as a parking lot contributed to this....I believe I read somewhere that only China has more bikes per capita. But this picture, taken at the Amsterdam Train Station gives you a good idea of what I am talking about, there are far more bikes than cars in this multitiered bike parking area. You will find organized parking in every train station of course. So if you are in reasonable health, rent a bike and enjoy the well marked bike paths throughout the city, the bikes have the right of way and you will find that people are actually very patient when traveling behind a bike, waiting for room to pass safely, it was really a joy to see and experience.
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