Destinations, Photo Essays, The Netherlands

Bicyclists in Amsterdam

November 4, 2014

“When you’re on two wheels in Amsterdam,” our bike guide said, “You’re immediately higher up in the food chain.”

It’s true.  Rush hour here is less about four wheels and more about two.  Bicycles flock in droves, clicking and whirring through early darkness and pinprick rain.  Their pedal-powered headlamps cast wide beams across glistening cobblestones, bobbing back and forth in perfect time with handlebar-slung handbags and groceries.

 In the mornings, parents rattle by our window on their way into work, pedaling hard with multiple children in tow.  The littlest ones are wrapped close in chest slings or strapped into handlebar seats, peeking out from behind tiny, child-sized plastic windshields.Older children jounce and jostle astride cargo platforms, pedal alongside on their own bikes, or even just share the same seat.  Not to be left out, dogs perch in elongated, front-mounted wheelbarrows and plastic produce crates, tongues lolling in the wind.
Bicyclists in Amsterdam | Destinations Photo Essays The Netherlands

There are no road bikes to be found here, nor a stitch of spandex.  There are as many bikes as people in Amsterdam, but no one dresses the part.  Perfectly-mussed hipster coiffures and ankle boots, high heels and high-waisted shorts, shiny leather loafers and business ties flapping backwards in the wind – everything save actual athletic-wear blazes by.

Cell phones are dug out of pockets and cigarettes embers flick from fingertips – these bikers have mastered the art of multitasking, smoking and texting and hauling their way across the city in a one-handed-two-wheeled jaunt from home to work to restaurant and back again.

Bicyclists in Amsterdam | Destinations Photo Essays The Netherlands

And even with plastic bins! (Looks like I also forgot to mention that listening to music is another one of the activities we saw people doing while on their bikes.)

Even nearing midnight on a Tuesday, the well-lit streets are full of life.  Peering out from the warm green glow of a restaurant named Red, I’m hypnotized as mopeds buzz to and fro, weaving around joggers and cyclists through the rain-slick streets.

The restaurant window shudders heavily whenever the unforgiving door slams, spitting former patrons back out into the cold.  They collect their bikes from beneath the shop windows, lampposts, trees, and canal bridge handrails – anywhere and everywhere is a valid parking spot –  and, after exchanging parting words and waves with foggy breath, they all push off into the night in an avian-like choreography, jackets and scarves fluttering like plumage in the deepening chill.
Bicyclists in Amsterdam | Destinations Photo Essays The Netherlands

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