I loved visiting Amsterdam. The people were friendly, everywhere felt very safe, clean and well-run. I was surprised by the number of British and American voices I heard everywhere too. When walking through the Vondelpark I thought I was in St James’ Park by the number of young people sitting in groups with English accents.
It is true the cycling network is one of the most advanced in the world. I did nearly get run over a number of times but it did strike me the sheer number of people on bikes. Most did not wear helmets, wore normal clothes and a lot had children with them. This was v different to the Lycra clad people with helmets and all the necessary equipment I’m used to seeing around Wokingham and London. Cyclists skipped red lights, took priority over pedestrians and largely had a relaxed yet very fast culture. I did feel very uneasy on the streets wherever I went in case a cyclist was going to hit me. The main problem with this in Amsterdam is that the pavements for pedestrians and cyclists are at the same level and colour. Along the canals the pavements are very narrow and often single file so you often have to step into the road and continually check if a bike is coming. I’m in a mixed mind about it. It would be great to decrease cars on roads and encourage cyclists but it does seem to add increased anxiety for pedestrians and cars.It’s not quite the cycling utopia the city is made out to be, apart from for the cyclists themselves. I’m sure London could learn a few lessons taking into account some improved tweaks.
The 4-5 story buildings impressed me too. They were beautiful. I did wonder why on Earth London hadn’t developed in the same way. In a time when London land is at a premium why haven’t we built up more? I don’t mean high-rise flats, I mean like the charming 4-5 stories which is the norm for Amsterdam. Walking along Brick Lane in London there were so many 1-2 story pubs and shops it did seem a shame they stopped there.
I’d thoroughly recommend a trip to the city.