Cycles though a good form of pollution free travelling has its pitfalls. Almsot no cyclist rings the bell when moving around and I came close to getting hit more than once. Cyclists have a separate lane and to new comers it may not be very easily identifiable.. but one has to be very carefull. specially with kids.
We spent four days in Amsterdam and never managed to work out whether any of the rules of the road applied to bicycles. They do not stop at pedestrian crossings, even if cars have stopped. They do not stop at red traffic lights, even if cars have stopped. Cyclists will travel the wrong way down a bicycle lane and through pedestrianised areas. We even saw one cyclist pull out in front of a moving van, even though it had right of way - she wasn't too badly hurt, fortunately.
Please be careful, as you won't hear them coming. Make sure you look EVERYWHERE before you step out on to the road, and don't assume that because the little green man is telling you to cross, that it is safe to do so.
It is almost impossible to find a parking spot in Amsterdam. Is there really a law that forbids the construction of parking spaces in the city limits? Will somebody please enlighten me?
However, it is quite simple to get around with the public transportation. Intercity trains, subways and buses all work together to get where you want to go
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!
There are bikes everywhere, but there aren't just bicycles in the bike paths, there are also scooters and mopeds and sometimes motorcycles. My friend was hit by a motorcycle while riding her bike and was thrown onto the sidewalk face first, cracking 2 teeth, and bruising her face and body. The woman who hit her left without stopping. We managed to get her plates but were told by the police that they couldn't help us. Can you believe that??
There are over 100,000 bicycles in Amsterdam. When you are crossing a street look both ways and watch out for them. Also, make sure you are NOT walking on a bike path. They usually have a brown or orange color to them and sometimes there is a picture of a bike painted on them or a sign (but not always). Walk on the SIDEWALK. I say this because now I live here and I know how much it sucks to have random tourists walking in front of me on the bike path while I am biking! If you hear a bell ringing behind you, then you are probably on a bike path, so check and get out of the way.
Also, watch out for Trams. People get killed by them, mostly because, they get off a tram and look one way before crossing or dont look at all, and end up getting hit by one coming the other way. If you see tram tracks at your feet make sure you look out. Especially near Central Station, since most of the trams come out from there and they are coming from all directions. When I first visited Amsterdam, seven years ago, I was in college and here strictly for the party aspect. If you are stoned and walking around its very easy to not pay attention. Back then, I was a bit overwhelmed as I was walking right by Central stations, and had trams coming from both ways and bicycles coming at me. These days, I dont smoke but I still know enough to PAY ATTENTION. Most or all of the people that get killed, maimed or hurt by trams are tourists!
Working at an Airport can be dangerous, so I'm real aware of the traffic around me. I ALWAYS turn & look around before taking step in any direction. Do the same while in Amsterdam, ESPECIALLY if you're out on the town enjoying a few drinks & weed. Cars, bikes, & trams fly at you from every which angle, & if you space out & tangle with any of them while on foot or bike, you'll lose. Pay attention to the color of the street. If you look down & see the path is a sort of reddish terra cotta color, it means you're on a bike path & are about to be cursed / run over by a bicycle.
Being a pedestrian in Amsterdam is the most dangerous thing for me. You need to have your five senses in continuous action if you don't want to be run over. When there are no cars, there is a bicycle and when there are no bikes, there's a tram. That?s absolutely crazy!!!
Surprisingly when Amsterdam is a pretty cool place, people driving cars tend to be crazy - through redlights, through pedestrian crossings when the light is green to cross and speeding up the wrong side of the road - taxi's especially.
Don't step on the road unless it's clear or you're sure the cars are going to stop! Also, when you're crossing try to move quickly, as if the lights change when you're on the road cars will start coming towards you!
Loads of cyclists around who are fine - but still watch for them at crossings as many times they won't stop. Also some have a habit of coming up behind you withing ringing a bell - be careful!
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.
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