“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.
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.
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.