Our web and graphic designer, Colin Klotzbach (@colin_me_names), spent a few days in the Netherlands recently and shares some of his observations (and sketches) from his experience below.
Some locations in the world boldly make their introductions to you the moment you first set foot in them. It may be the stifling humidity of Miami in July, the sour smell of Manhattan, or in the case of Amsterdam, the ubiquity of the bicycle. The Dutch adoption and respect for the humble bike as a favorite means of transport is, of course, well documented, and while attending a conference in town recently, I was again fortunate to experience (and occasionally sketch) the phenomenon firsthand.
Bikes are afforded equal status by Dutch traffic engineers, and in the dense city center they blend seamlessly with pedestrians and motorized vehicles. At some intersections such as at the Leidseplein the balance is harmonious enough to do away with the usual forms of traffic controls entirely.
As a pedestrian in the city you very quickly get into the habit of looking over your shoulder before crossing over the narrow lanes to prevent getting run over not by an SUV, but rather the more silent Dutch version – the bakfiets.
Amsterdam is an old city that continues to innovate in the area of further encouraging its citizens to make cycling an integral part of their life. New high-tech bike parking facilities continue to be built around the city, and bicycling “super-highways” are increasingly connecting Amsterdam to nearby towns. These investments toward the future will certainly further strengthen the position the bicycle holds in the shaping the city’s identity .