Cycling in Amsterdam is…


Cycling in Amsterdam, that is on Sunday morning along empty streets to the city center, falling on a slippery bridge, €30 fine for cycling on the sidewalk, moms with bakfietsen, regardless bakfietsen, and childless neighbors complaining about bakfietsen.

Cycling in Amsterdam is a citation from the Fodor’s Amsterdam travel guide: “If you weave on the bike or regularly stop to take photos, care stay out of the way of the locals who use these paths to get to work on time.”

Cycling in Amsterdam is 11,500 engraved bikes en 33,905 bikes checked on the street, of which 255 are known to be stolen by the police.

Is designer bicycle stores, and a toothless junkie who, for €10, “sells” an old wreck.

Cycling in Amsterdam is a white matter, and therefore reason for the Amsterdam Office Traffic & Transport Service to ask itself: “Is cycling for cheese-heads?” And: “Do highly educated foreigners, in fact, cycle?”

Is 50,000 bicycle thefts per year, and 27% bothering to report the crime.

Cycling in Amsterdam is the Multiple Year Bicycle Plan 2007-2010 for which a budget of €69.3 million is estimated.

It is also: 550,000 bicycles, on average 5 accident deaths and between 325 and 600 wounded cyclists per year, a bike network with a length of 400 kilometers, 8 manned bike parking garages and one multilevel bike parking structure by Central Station.

Excuses for the repetition but I’m just translating here: These are titles from a recent photo series in the Volkskrant magazine.

All in all it paints a pretty accurate picture of my world of bikes from the locals perspective. My first thoughts:

  • Those junkies approach us regularly with whispers of “fiets te koop” (bike for sale).
  • Educated foreigners definitely cycle, probably as much as “cheese-heads”.
    Lower income/education level foreigners mostly don’t cycle and what can be done to change that is a constant discussion in the press.
  • Its not clear whether only 27% of the 50,000 bike thefts are reported to the police or the the 27% that are reported total 50,000. In any case a lot of bicycles get stolen and its widely regarded as just a fact of of like taxes and death.
  • The major cross-street near my house is a giant construction site. The street and tram line were in fine condition by most standards but had wide car lanes and no separated bicycle path. As a result auto traffic traveled quite fast here. It was decided to rebuild about 2km of this street to incorporate separated bike paths and tram tracks. Auto traffic will run through narrow, single-lane chicanes on either side. This street project alone will probably cost more than the entire cycling infrastructure budgets of most big cities. It sucks to drive here and that makes me happy except for the rare occasion I get stuck in a car myself.
  • Of course that five deaths per year should be zero but five is still a remarkably small number for a city where about 500,000 people ride (or passenger) on a bicycle daily, almost none of whom ever wear a helmet and most of whom largely ignore traffic signals.
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