I’m just back from Amsterdam, and while many things have impressed me about the city (the wide open streets, the small narrow streets, the canals, the cutting cold wind and occasional snow sweeping down those wide open streets, the book markets, the prints, the stamps, the coffeeshops, the restaurants, the museums, the apple tart for breakfast) one of the things that will stay with me is the sudden sweeping attack of cyclists.
Honestly. You’re just strolling down the pavement, nice and casually, and possibly you might be in the marked cycle lane but that isn’t always very clear, or you’re turning to cross the road and looking to right and left, and then suddenly there is an explosion of cycle bells and half a dozen cyclists are swooping towards you, and you need to rapidly reconfigure your current geographical location.
Cycles were everywhere. There was a cycle rack in the elevator lobby of the hotel where I was staying, and there were always half a dozen bikes chained up in it. And you had interesting varieties of bicycle: not so much the racing type, but the sort with large baskets, suitable for carrying things – and I mean practical things, not just a teeny little rack-let on the back – or even a pram-attachment on the front of the cycle, so that mother could cycle along briskly with her babies stashed in the pram in front of her. I even saw one which had twins in it.