Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 9th, 2017 at 5:22 pm
You probably didn’t even notice, but I just returned from 17 days in France and Amsterdam.
Even though I wasn’t working, I managed to snap a few photos of wonky street scenes, bicycles, and the people who ride them.
I’ll share photos and a few thoughts from my time in Paris in a separate post. Today let’s take a look at what I saw in Amsterdam.
As some of you might recall, I did a study trip in Amsterdam (and elsewhere) in 2013. This time around was much different. Juli (my wife) and I were there simply as tourists — to soak up as much of the local culture as we could and enjoy the quirks that make Amsterdam many peoples’ favorite city in the world. We strolled along narrow, canal-lined streets and visited museums, shops, and charming cafés. And guess what? We never set foot on a pedal. Instead, we opted to walk everywhere.
The decision to walk saved us a few Euros and enabled us to wander seamlessly — safely out of the infamously fast-flowing river of Amsterdam bike traffic. (Being on foot also helped me realize that in a city where bicycling dominates, walking suffers.)
For simplicity’s sake, I’ve put my images into three broad categories: people, places, and things.
I could sit in a café and watch people on bikes in Amsterdam all day. Compared to what I see in Portland, the diversity (in age, race, and class) of riders and skill they demonstrate is remarkable.
Teens just out of school roll by in groups, continuing the same conversations they had in class (it’s very quiet in Amsterdam because there are so few cars); people calmy carry all types of objects (including babies and small children) that would evoke stares or even rebukes in Portland; many people use their phones while biking; older people maintain their independence and freedom of movement thanks to bicycling; lots of business — from the mail to freight delivery — gets done by bike; and they do it all while looking very fashionable (this is Europe after all).
Walking around the streets of Amsterdam is like being a kid in a candy store. Narrow streets are all but given over fully to bicycling and/or walking and wider streets have cross-sections that transportation refomers in the U.S. can only dream about. I can’t recall any places where drivers dominate. And even when cars are present, the speeds are very low and it’s understood that people on bikes and foot have priority.
With so few cars, Amsterdam is probably the quietest big city in the world. And without the need to facilitate parking or driving of automobiles, street markets flourish throughout the city.
I was fascinated by Utrechtsestraat in the Amstelveld neighborhood. A busy shopping street with many modes (freight, bike, walk, transit) and with almost no markings or dedicated infrastructure, everyone managed to use the road safely and efficiently…
Typically picturesque street along a canal.
— BikePortland (@BikePortland) October 5, 2017
And finally… We really need these in Portland!
Stay tuned for a few photos and thoughts from my week walking around Paris.
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