Upon arrival I was fascinated with the sheer numbers of bikes that were on the streets. People weaving in and out, scurrying by, and in some cases barely missing each other – it was truly a ballet on the street. Once I had secured my bike which I promptly named ‘ol’blue’, we were off! Just a handful of us at the time, we explored the eastside of town and maybe got lost a little. About 30 minutes into our I ride I experienced the feeling of being little overwhelmed as there were clearly more bikes on the road at one time then I was use to. It was uneasy at first because of the often tight conditions on the bike path. It felt very much like crossing the Hawthorne bridge in Portland at rush hour. However, after getting by bearings and “doing as the locals due” my confidence grew and I was off like a wild steed – which is a good sign in the sense that I was able to safely navigate the impressive cycle tracks.
I will state that I might have had higher expectations than what was realized on the ground. Mostly due to the fact that although bicyclists are safe due to the large financial commitment to infrastructure, and cars and their users are not given priority, the system is by no means perfect. I state this because just like in the U.S. pedestrians are treated a nuisance – they are clearly in the second or even third class ranks when it comes to road user hierarchy. In the same way as American automobile drivers don’t stop for pedestrians, bicyclists follow this same trend. However, the difference here is that ignoring the pedestrians plea to cross the cycle track is socially acceptable. But as an advocate of walkability and access, these cycle tracts could inhibit people from making short trips. providing
Culturally the bike is significant in the Netherlands. It is not glorified as it sometimes can be in the States. It is not an extension of one’s self expression. It is simply a tool that is used by everyone to get from destination A to B. The bike life that comes with this appears somewhat chaotic but the reality is that is flows like a well oiled machine.