Dropping into Amsterdam has been like waking up in the Matrix after selling out my friends to an Agent. As an urban bike commuter and bicycle propagandizer, my deepest, darkest bike-topian fantasies have been realized. Rusted piles of Dutch bikes sprout on every corner like fungal masses after a rain. Cyclopaths wind labyrinthine through stately neighborhoods of 17th century apartments, some sighing and slumping into each other, wagging the white molding of their window-eyes. The streets are trimodal and evenly territorial — the streets belong to car, pedestrian and cyclist coequally. Only the canals belong to the boats.
I spent 5 hours on a Dutch bike today, biking from west to east and back in the south side of the city. The experience has been of cultural shock and awe. I think since China and Taiwan got on the automobile bandwagon, there is no other place on earth where the bicycle is such a preeminent form of transportation. I expected lots of bikes — but not a three-tiered bicycle parking garage by the central train station!
I found myself unable to photograph a scene that adequately captures my sense of having arrived in the bike-pocalypse, so I took a video as I rode on a cyclopath. This road is one of the lowest traffic and lowest parked bike density of the neighborhoods I rode today!
Along the way, I found a man playing chess while dressed for a funeral…
And a trio of seriously myopic women at the market.