Our Two-wheeled Friends In Amsterdam
Elle Hartley Smith, Features Writer
There are many skills you need to accomplish in Amsterdam if you are going to fit in.
So here is a page in the life of the Dam-ians.
Firstly, although it looks like your favourite childhood amusement park ride, riding a bike is nothing like the beloved bumper cars.
It actually hurts when you bump!
Just because those around you can ride without hands does not mean you can. Gaining this skill requires patience, time and most of all guts.
Riding with one hand is probably a good starting point, but me being me, I threw myself into the deep end, quite literally, the first time I attempted to ride without hands I very, very nearly became part of one of the famous Amsterdam canals.
My stomach has never been the same again around that canal.
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But it doesn't fit in your basket, so you take all twenty four bottles out of the crate and place them strategically into your tacky bright blue plastic basket (wicker ones are surprisingly hard to come by).
You ride them home while carrying the now empty crate and a loaf of bread in one hand, steer with the other, while trying to remember your way home with your heavy laptop bag on your shoulder because you are too lazy to go out again once you've seen your bed.
Left is the new right and right is the old left. You get in a car and the wheel stays to the centre of the road - easy right? Where is the wheel on a bike? It can get confusing, especially as you're used to looking over your right shoulder. As I quickly discovered the locals don't like it when you ride on the left of the bike lane, in fact they shout mean things in Dutch and point to the other side.
Town is another challenge altogether, it feels like all of Amsterdam's 881,000 bikes are following you. I can guarantee you will become stuck behind someone who has all the time in the world.
It is inevitable.
So pop that personal space bubble of yours, it no longer exists! Red lights become a bigger nemesis than when in a car, if you set off too slow those behind you get annoyed and over take you then you are stuck with the tortoises, in this case the hare always wins. Or you take off too quickly and crash with the person in front of you and they will not thank you for that. It takes guts to bike in the centre, there's no doubt about that.
In the beginning they tell you to not use your phone while biking but trying to navigate a new capital city without a map is the new impossible.
How am I going to contribute to the Amsterdamminas two million kilometres a day without directions? It'd end up two point two million kilometres with how frequently I get lost - sense of direction is not something I have nor can accumulate.
What they really forget to tell you is that although for the majority of the time the chain is covered, that does not stop your lace getting caught in the peddle.
This is okay most of the time, but cars do not appreciate you trying to fix this on a corner so I had to very quickly figure out how to bike without peddling - I didn't get far.
While there are a lot of challenges when riding a bike, it is a very beautiful way, efficient and fun way to get around the city. If you just breathe and attempt to relax with hundreds of bikers passing you at speed you'll be fine!
Our Two-wheeled Friends In Amsterdam, 31st October 2017, 11:00 AM