Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Arrived in Ansterdam

I arrived in Amsterdam today - a couple of days before students arrive - and I quickly realized how completely I forgot how many bikes are here and how comprehensive the bike infrastructure is.  Seeing Amsterdam for the first time last year was the reason I developed this course, yet I was still shocked at how many bikes there are here.

Flying here was both uneventful and completely off hours.  I made it with only one connecting flight (in Seattle) but I landed at the equivalent of midnight in Eugene, an hour I already struggle to stay up until these days.  In Amsterdam, it was 9am, so to get on to local time I had to minimize any sleep.  I made it until 3pm and took an 1.5 hour nap.
Afterward, I went back out on the town by bike (my rental bike on the left)  to begin to acclimate to how things work here - the norms, the signs, the pavement markings, scooters, vehicles, etc.  Plus, I was trying to get any orientation to the layout of the city that I could, but I'm thinking it is nearly impossible in such a short time.  Canals limit crossing and there is no street grid to make order.  The relatively tall buildings (3-5 floors) block out any tall landmarks, so all I did was find some locals on bikes and just followed them around the city.  That was fun - I had no idea where I was going, but it was a great way to get comfortable with the norms of the road.

It wasn't much of a picture day - my focus was to not get hit or hit something else.  But I like this typical 4 lane road - two inner lanes shared by light rail (tram) and car, two bike lanes (in red), on-street car parking, then a sidewalk.  How about this model for Willamette in Eugene?  Or West 11th (substitute EmX)?  Or 13th from downtown to campus - one bus dedicated lane, one car lane, and two-way bike lanes?  Lots of possibilities, and many of them exist in Amsterdam and seem to work just fine.

Of course it doesn't hurt to also have some really old, really skinny streets with character to add to the mix.  These little alleys are for bikes and pedestrians mostly, although scooters squeeze through as well as some extremely small cars that look like a go-cart, but with a full car shell on top.  I'll have to get a picture of those little things.

So far so good.  I'm looking forward to having students arrive.  We have a full agenda for eight days with a lot of riding.  I hope my legs hold out.


  1. Nooooo! You broke down and took a nap?

    I find that as long as I have a good city map it's ok to get lost a bit. I try to pick a route, but if I get lost I often just go with it and end up stumbling upon cool sights.

    I also enjoy the technique of following people around. Yesterday, I rode from Copenhagen to Helsinore and took the ferry to Helsinborg, Sweden. I wanted to get the feel of riding around a Swedish city, but didn't have a destination in mind so I just followed people around. I found that the network is not as complete as in Copenhagen, where I can turn on nearly any street and either have a cycle track or a low-traffic street.

  2. Love seeing this Marc (and Cortney)--Thanks! I'll look forward to reading more!

  3. It’s amazing how they managed to achieve so much. It’s always nice to hear and be inspired by such success stories. Thanks! nice post.