Eyes on the Street: Amsterdam

After Copenhagen, I visited Holland for a few days as a part of my German Marshall Fellowship. I will be writing more about some of the people I met and spoke with there, but for now I just wanted to share these photos from Amsterdam:

amsterdam_tinycar.jpg

For me, one of the things that makes Amsterdam and Copenhagen so bike-friendly is the fact that people’s cars are so much smaller over there. The vehicle above is an extreme example. But you don’t see very many SUV’s and the gigantic tractor trailers are off-loaded outside the city center. On a Dutch-style upright bicycle, my eye-level was almost always higher than the tops of the cars on the street. That gave me a really strong feeling of safety and control.

amsterdam_bikeparking.jpg

This is the bicycle parking garage in front of Amsterdam’s Central Train Station. Someone told me that it holds 20,000 bikes but I didn’t verify that. Suffice it to say, this thing holds a lot of bikes. Hey, that reminds me, what sort of bike parking facility is planned around the new Lower Manhattan transportation hub? Or would bike parking conflict with Santiago Calatrava’s poetic architectural vision of a child setting free a bird?

amsterdam_tram.jpg

The tram is the main mode of transport in inner-city Amsterdam. Fast, sleek, non-polluting, and exceptionally quiet, I nearly got myself hit by one of them. Actually, it wasn’t that close but they do keep you on your toes, trolley-dodging and all that. It was really nice getting around town on these. Unlike the B63 bus that I rode in Brooklyn this morning, the tram in Amsterdam is rarely stuck in traffic thanks to its dedicated right-of-way and traffic signal priority. George Haikalis and Roxanne Warren of Vision42 think that these would work well on 42nd Street.

amsterdam_umbrellabike.jpg

The weather in Holland in October is highly unpredictable. It seemed like every time I went outside it started raining. Every time I went inside it got sunny. The rain doesn’t seem to stop people from riding their bikes.

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Waiting for the rain to subside under the awning of a pub, I found this pleasant neighborhood street scene.

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