Crossing the Street - Trams, Amsterdam
Public transport in Amsterdam is very good, well laid-out and mostly on time... their punctuality must be a direct result of the way they drive: like a gouda-wheel outta hell!
It seemed to me like nobody had ever bothered to explain to the drivers, cyclists and pedestrians who has right of way on the roads; everyone seems a bit confused when they actually find themselves on a collison course with someone or something.
When you see a bus or tram approaching the station, step well back and keep your distance. Also don't trust that when you are planning to cross the street that the driver will see you (or even care if he does!). Exercise caution, even on zebra crossings.
Basically, walking around Amsterdam is a great experience with lots to see, to do and to taste.
And after a few days, you'll be a master at tiptoeing around dog poopies, whilst keeping your eyes on the trams and busses, not slipping on the cobble stones and dodging cyclists at the same time!
The Amsterdam Trams (public transport streetcars) are great to use, but they travel through some narrow crowded streets too (Leidsestraat, Reguliers Breestraat). So, get customized to look out for tracks and fast trams crossing (when you are crossing the street).
Amsterdam seems to have an efficient tram network. That means that many attempts to shoot your camera at monuments and streets will not work properly as these lines up there keep showing on photos. Still, Amsterdam has many chances for beautiful photos; so don't let yourself down by those ever showing lines, ...
I know that many will disagree but it seems that in this city there is a pecking order of road and pavement users and that pedestrians always come off the lowest in that order. Bikes will ride on pavements when there are cycle lanes; they will park so deeply across the pavement that you are forced to step off into the cycle lanes much to the ire of cyclists who do not see any hypocrisy in their curses; trams come upon you with a deadly quietness and an excessive speed in narrow streets where tourists unused to them are walking and cars are, well, just what we always find cars to be. Take great care if you walk!
You must have a "heads up" attitude when you are in Amsterdam. If you are a pedestrian you must watch for bicycles, trams, cars and whatever else the Dutch have come up with.
Stepping in front of a bike is a good way to get you and the rider hurt.
Stepping in front of a tram will probably only get yourself hurt...very hurt.
There are bike lanes where you won't expect them. They are clearly marked. Try not to stand in the middle of them and check you map.
I feel silly writing this tip, because I got caught, but perhaps it will help somebody else.
On getting onto a Tram late one night, where I usually get the Conductor to stamp my Strippenkart was vacant, and I hadn't done it myself before. A Dutch man was at the machine doing his, I went forward, and he said to me that the machine wasn't working.
I asked "what do I do" he said he didn't know, he couldn't fix the machine, so I sat down.
The next stop, on got a heap of Inspectors, so I was in BIG TROUBLE, even though I had a valid ticket, it hadn't been stamped.
I told them what had happened, they tried the machine (I hadn't done, had taken the man's word for it) and lo and behold, it worked. I didn't know what to say. I felt so silly for not trying it myself, but I didn't expect to be lied to either!!!
Luckily, they let me off with a warning.
This was the ONE & ONLY TIME, that I ever saw Inspectors.
WAS I SET UP? I wonder.............
How bad does it hurt WHEN A TRAM HITS YOU? I hope you never find out. I had an interesting conversation with a Tram Driver. When I asked her (a V.T. Member!) if she had ever hit anything, the answer was yes. 12 car in 12 years. When I asked about people the answer was only 2. Why does it happen? Because people don’t look both ways or cars turn into the paths of the trams. Trains are way too heavy to stop quickly and so are trams. The roads are very confusing because of multiple trams lines on the same busy streets in some areas. I even saw locals get confused about where to look for the trams. When in doubt – go to marked crossings and watch the lights!
Amsterdam has a very comprehensive system of streetcars and trams; however, it's not always easy to make sure that you are getting on the right one. This was particularly true when boarding at Centraal Station. It seems that every streetcar line in Amsterdam passes in front, making it a convenient hub for getting around, but also a very confusing place to figure out. I studied the signs as diligently as I could, and I still made a couple of mistakes, one boarding a streetcar that set out in exact opposite direction that I wanted to go. And I don't think I ever really figured out the system of knowing which doors of the streetcar you were supposed to enter!
As interesting and distracting as Amsterdam can be: if you're walking about in the city, be conscientious crossing the streets.
I should heed my own words.
Last Sept. walking home after a spliff & couple jong jenevers I almost got picked off by the southbound tram on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, having to do a curb chain-assisted faceplant to survive.
Look both ways for TRAMS, buses & BIKES!
Just a tip for your good health.
My impression is that Amsterdam -- despite its welcome flatness -- is not an easy city to roll around in a wheelchair. There are many obstacles on the sidewalks like parked bikes, illegally parked cars. Take great precaution when crossing streets -- not so much because of crazy car drivers but rather because of the many cyclists, some of whom are not too considerate. Some of the canal bridges have quite a steep gradient.
We had just arrived in Amsterdam. We were walking along a sidewalk, dragging our suitcases. About 3 meters from a crossing we were about to use (no traffic lights there) I was well aware of a tram approaching from one side. So we stopped waiting for it to pass. But to our extreme surprise, the tram stopped too, and the smiling driver gestured for us to cross. We did, waving and smiling back.
That same day, I was walking along one of the canals, admiring the architecture, when suddenly a few bikes swooshed past me at such speed and such close distance that it gave me a fright and I almost lost my balance. I soon realised that I had unconsciously entered the bike line which was running along the pavement. True, my fault, but why hadn't they warned me with a bell or a shout?
Strange ways. A tram will stop to let you pass and a biker will run you over without a second thought.
As a very senior citizen I am aware of the many warnings about trams (in the middle of the street) traffic direction (luckily we are not from England and look the right way-that is left), and bikes (I try to keep quiet when walking and continually mumble "bike" while approaching intersections). Along many of the newer paved walkways there is a bike lane near the street curb that is colored a dull brick-red. It is separated from the walking area which is raised, by another curb. This is the NEW DANGER for walkers. A shuffling elder or inattentive junior can easily trip over this curb which blends with the walking zone and is unmarked (they should be bright yellow!). This happened to my baby-sitter who badly sprained her knee in a fall. We had to take care of her instead of vice-versa. So if you are coming from a vehicle parked at the curb you must watch both ways for the bikes (they all go fast on the new lane) and then think "second curb" as you rush across the bike lane. These pictures in front of our hotel (the scene of the accident) illustrate the danger.
After going through Europe and places like Rome, I thought I had seen the worst of the worst of street traffic and how dangerous it is to cross the road - NO WAY this has to be the worst. This is how it goes - step off the pavement and watch out for the bikes in the bike lane, then the tram lane, then you get to the cars bit, not so bad, but then on your way over you forget about the trams, and the bikes and then you are finally on the other side of the road!!!! There are so many bikes in this city, just check out the bike parking lot near the train station!! I saw a post card where they are pulling our hundreds of bikes from the canals!
Probably appeared many many times on this site but just thought I'd add my bit. Please be very careful when crossing the roads in Amsterdam. You have cars, buses, bikes and trams to contend with. It's the bikes in particular that can catch you off guard. They have cycling lanes here in Amsterdam and it can be quite tricky to spot them and work out which way they are coming from when tryint to cross the roads here. Some of the smaller side streets look like pedestrian only zomes when in fact cyclist have just as much right of way on these and will wizz past without any warning. DONT say I didn't warn you! ha ha
Beware your feet. You will want to walk the entire city...twice! It's easy to do since the city is relatively small.
Be nice to your feet, jump on a tram once in awhile.
Bring moleskin for blisters.