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Hair raising moments on a bike in Amsterdam

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From time to time, people researching Amsterdam think it would be a cool idea to do as the locals do and rent a bike and explore Amsterdam that way. They may think it's a calm, relaxing way to get around Amsterdam. This post is to warn you. This morning I rode from the Central Station bicycle storage into town, along Prins Hendrikkade. Google it if you want to have an idea of where that is. There are a number of rent shops, one at Central Station and a few other ones near Zeedijk and Warmoesstraat. So, quite a few first meters on rental bike are done at that precise stretch. There's a segregated bikelane along Prins Hendrikkade. But then comes the intersection with Rokin. One of the busiest spots in Amsterdam! A huge stream of bike traffic comes from the direction of Central Station, and they all want to get to Rokin to ride towards Dam. Then there is another huge stream coming from Prins Hendrikkade, going towards the canals.

In front of me was a family, Australians by the sound of them. Mum on a bike of her own, but with the saddle too low. Dad on a bakfiets, with their two kids (toddlers) in front. And both none to sure of their cycling skills. People with experience of that intersection know that once you get the green light on Prins Hendrikkade, there is a mad rush to get across, and then, just when you've reached the Rokin bikepath, the stream coming from Central Station gets green and they stream towards you from the right. Madness! And there are lot of accidents there. Before me, Mum wobbled, and tried to avoid the traffic right-siding her and ended up on the pedestrian crossing nearly colliding with a small group of tourists. And Dad swerved to the right, not looking behind him and there we, oncoming traffic nearly collided with him. The public was none too friendly.

Please understand that cycling in Amsterdam is not a recreational activity. People need to get to places, business meetings, appointments and they're getting there fast. So, unless you're very skilled in urban traffic as a bike rider, Don't. Rent. A. Bike. !

End of rant.

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