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Hair raising moments on a bike in Amsterdam

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Jul 14th, 2015, 11:20 AM
  #1
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Hair raising moments on a bike in Amsterdam

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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Jul 14th, 2015, 11:22 AM
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For Rokin, read Damrak. Further upstream the same is true for the shared roads around Dam, intersecting with Rokin.
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Jul 14th, 2015, 11:26 AM
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And here's a video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Jdq74eNz2U
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Jul 14th, 2015, 12:12 PM
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Yes I've been saying that too but you have a much better perspective - biking in Amsterdam sounds neat but can be a very frightening dangerous things for folks not used to the ropes.

Thanks for posting.
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Jul 14th, 2015, 12:17 PM
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Are helmets illegal in Amsterdam?
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Jul 14th, 2015, 12:27 PM
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If you want to bike, go out to the Harlem train station and rent a bike from there - you can ride out to the coast, fairly flat and more relaxed. Other train stations have bike rentals too, I think, but when we visited in May, I found walking in A'dam, esp. around Central Station, to be hectic enough (due in large part to the bikers) but really, you don't want to be a tourist on a bike - not a good way to sightsee!
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Jul 14th, 2015, 12:29 PM
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Very entertaining article about helmets in Holland, at least to me:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB100014...74250616160146
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Jul 14th, 2015, 01:06 PM
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I have a bike helmet, an off road one and love. In Key West where a bike is the only way to get around you need all the protection you can get, mostly from the taxi drivers and delivery people. I cringe when watching motorbikes in traffic in Europe, the lane splitting with bikes and motor bikes scares the crap out of me. Not for the faint of heart. I have often wanted to do a fat tire tour but not in that traffic.
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Jul 14th, 2015, 01:52 PM
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Why do you need helmets? The laws are such that cars have to give way to cyclist and cyclist have to give way to peds.
And with the Dutch the law is the law.
Plus there are hardly any Lycra Louts in NL.
After the rant menachem maybe you need some "John Wayne" therapy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnPUe80oBZw
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Jul 14th, 2015, 01:55 PM
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And the Dutch are known for having hard heads! and yes I see no hemelts on locals - I guess for that reason?
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Jul 14th, 2015, 02:01 PM
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"Are helmets illegal in Amsterdam?"

It was an innocent question. In that 2:03 minute video full of hundreds of swerving cyclists there was not one helmet. Interesting arguments the Dutch put forward:

"Arien De Jong, a spokeswoman for the Cyclists Union, says that experience enforcing helmet laws in Australia illustrates the risk. "Grown men wear helmets and fluorescent jackets, and it looks dangerous," says Ms. De Jong. Biking proponents say riding has fallen in Australia since helmet rules began in the 1990s, but helmet-heads dispute the contention."

Hopefully the Aussies will wake up soon, throw on their fluorescent jackets, read this thread and respond.
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Jul 14th, 2015, 03:28 PM
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I was in Amsterdam with my mother and we got caught in a downpour, and on a whim, we piled into a pedicab/taxi. We got all the fun of being part of the bicycle crowd but with a professional at the helm. It wasn't any more expensive than what a motor taxi would have been.

I have seen even native residents of Amsterdam nearly get creamed by trams, or collide with each other, especially in the mornings, when they are speeding to work.

Flying into Amsterdam one time, the pilot's voice came over the speakers o give the usual info as we began the descent regarding weather, local time -- and he added a warning to watch out of cyclists once on the ground.
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Jul 14th, 2015, 11:10 PM
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This is not about helmets. The family in dire straits wore helmets, religiously. But in a really bad crash, it wouldn't have helped them. I do a lot of long distance biking, also in groups. In the one crash where I got really injured, a broken elbow, a helmet wouldn't have prevented it. However, if I bike at speed, I do wear a helmet. It all depends on the situation.

One thing we do know about compulsory helmet wearing: cars pass you more narrowly, it decreases bicycle use in its own right, It makes biking look like a danger sport.

ribeirasacra , I don't own a car, I bike everywhere. my rant is not against biking, or against biking without helmets, but against tourists biking in Amsterdam. Please refrain.

Also, how funny that (mostly americans, I suppose) immediately make this into a discussion abouts helmets!. Ever really looked at a bike helmet? It only protects you in very specific types of accidents, ie, almost never. But I understand it is more of a magical fetish people wear to protect them from awful biking conditions outside The Netherlands and/or Denmark.
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Jul 15th, 2015, 12:11 AM
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you rant and rant. But if you don't want replies do not post on here. Notice you did not argue about the hard head post!
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Jul 15th, 2015, 01:37 AM
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Actually the whole helmet arguement is far fuller of emotional energy than the facts support and this influence on different legislation is interesting across Europe if not the world.

I note however there is no legislation for pedestrians to wear helmets not car drivers in any country. This is despite the fact that pedestrians have to contend with heads falling onto pavements from 2 metres up or being struck by vehicles moving at say 60 mph. Similary car driver's heads often have to deal with massive decelerations when in an acident and likely to come into contact with a number of hard objects within a car (excluding air bags).

In my experience the Dutch do wear bike helmets when going very fast or off road. I note that in Denmark, (where bike riding is even more prevelant than in the Netherlands) a similar helmet usage occurs, though there kids under 14 have to wear helmets (which of course most don't once they realise it is cool not to).

The fundemental differences between Denmark and the Netherlands and the most of the rest of the world are obvious
1) Legislation assumes that the car driver is in the wrong (unless proven)
2) Large investment in bike paths (not massive 'cause it occurs while laying out/maintaining roads and using planners who ride bikes). Roughly £10 per person per year as opposed to less than £1 per person as in UK
3) Core social decisions; to protect the environment, to reduce the nation's health bill and to reclaim the streets for everyone then bikes should be a major form of transport, hence more than 50% of all journeys in Denmark occur by bike.
4) The Netherlands and Denmark are flat. (about as flat as Norfolk)

In these environments you don't need a helmet to protect you from a car driver, you need them to protect you from your own stupidity. In other countries you need a helmet to save you from the planners/politcal decisions that you are not worth protecting.


Rant over. Not understanding the rule of the bike in Amsterdam is a bad idea, like not understanding how to drive in a car in traffic.
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Jul 15th, 2015, 03:23 AM
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Denmark is not as flat as Norfolk or the Netherlands.

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2007/11...ntry-myth.html
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Jul 15th, 2015, 03:59 AM
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I mentioned helmets because helmets should eliminate hair raising moments.

Let's move on to high blood pressure among cyclists.
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Jul 15th, 2015, 04:40 AM
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Odin, just ridden it, it is
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Jul 15th, 2015, 06:14 AM
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I can't imagine much that's more dangerous than mixing motorcycles and bicycles in the same thin strip! No helmets, mixed motorized and non-motorized vehicles, my respect for the Dutch just plummeted.
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Jul 15th, 2015, 06:14 AM
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LOL...when hubs said "let's rent bikes when we are in Amsterdam" I asked him if he was Crazy!!! We perhaps ride once every 4 years... From what I've seen of the bikes in Amsterdam it looks almost like driving in Rome Sandralist maybe we'll try the pedicab/taxi.
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