Transportation here is different.
When we emerge from the airport, loaded down with our backpacks, we don’t see a car park. Rather, we see a bicycle park. Fietsflat (bicycle flat), as it is called, is at Amsterdam Centraal Station. “A guarded, three-story bicycle parking facility,” DutchAmsterdam cites it as, “provid[ing] 2500 free parking spaces.”
After navigating our way through Amsterdam’s streets with our friend Kelly, I understand the need for Fietsflat. Bicycles are everywhere. We quickly learn that bicycles have the absolute right of way. Cars have to make way for cyclists…and so do pedestrians. Bicycle bells are not for show here. The Dutch ring them vehemently if a tourist doesn’t happen to know proper bicycle etiquette.
Holland.com states, “Every Dutch person owns a bike and there are twice as many bikes as there are cars.”
Bikes of all materials, shapes, and sizes are here. Parents tote their children around on “bakfiets” (cargo bikes). If you are into comfort, old school pedal-back brakes, and wicker baskets, you might like to ride an “omafiets”- or “granny style” bike. Kelly has an omafiets. It is perfect for riding while wearing a skirt. Practicality and comfort make a wonderful match.
It makes complete sense. Houses aren’t the only thing that was built narrow here, so are the streets. Bicycle travel is efficient and feasible here, with the flat terrain and cycle-friendly infrastructure. There is even a bicycle underpass that goes through the Rijksmuseum.
But there is a problem with so many bicycles. Abandoned bikes have actually become a type of pollution in Amsterdam.
While cycling our way around Amsterdam, we came across this interesting Eurasian (bald) coot nest in a canal.
At least someone found a use for those wheels.