Ah, Amsterdam

I’ve just returned from my first visit to Amsterdam. Of course, the first thing on my to-do list was to indulge in some…  pannekoeken. No really, I love pancakes. Any type of cake really. Especially when buried in a certain chocolate-hazelnut spread.

But after I checked that off my list (three times) I went to see about a bike.


Now, Amsterdam is a known bicycle city. But more than that, it is a tiny city. Every thing is small and efficient. From their apartments:AmsterdamTo their tiny streets. But while you’d think I’d be most impressed with all the biking, I was actually more impressed by the driving.


But it was great to ride on safe infrastructure that doesn’t make me feel like I’m running with the elephants.


Instead, I found myself alongside a completely different species: my own. AmsterdamI think I prefer biking with people more than biking with cars. It makes it as easy as walking. Now can we get more of these cycle tracks back home please?


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18 Responses to “Ah, Amsterdam”

  • The illustration I could really relate to above is the one about living spaces. When I lived in Japan, I would wake up in the morning, turn on the heat, get the coffee going and put my toast in the oven, all without leaving my cozy futon. By the time the apartment was warm, the coffee was made, and the bread was toasted, I would jump out of bed, pull the equivalent of the dining table out of the closet, put the folded futon in, and sit down and eat breakfast. Does a single woman really need more than a “six mat” apartment? I didn’t there!

  • Aster

    I keep forgetting how lucky we Dutch bikers are. Because there’s still quite some horrible drivers out here. But the plus side is that most of them have to bike some of the time, so they know the fear. The fear of riding with the elephants. Which makes it that much worse that more and more Dutch people are getting those gigantic Hummer-esque monstrosities that fill up the entire road next to the canal. Because those roads were built centuries ago for walking, and maybe a tiny horse-carriage, but not the Toyota Ginormous, or whatever’s the new thing. We have exactly no mountains in our country, every road is perfectly maintained, no mud, no terrain to drive on, so why do you need 4 wheel drive terrain vehicles? WHY? But I digress: everybody bikes in the Netherlands, and there’s nothing quite so nice as biking together.

  • sheridan

    The living space is similar in London too (though usually not so well-thought out – more like converting houses designed for a family into two or three flats).
    The people driving motor vehicles in Berlin are friendly too (and from what I can tell, other German cities, though Berlin is the only one I’ve had to share the roads with).

  • hamish

    Nice cartoons thanks. And there’s a great book on the history of biking in Amsterdam by Pete Jordan called “In the City of Bikes”…

  • Don

    Alright! I’ve been following you for a while… Finally you came to my hometown. I’m happy to hear and see your interpretation of this city, because ofcourse you have to find out for yourself, but nobody here draws as nice as you do, except for maybe Jan Cleijne:

    But thanks a lot for your review of our cycling city, next time let me know when you’re around!

    X Don

  • love the last two cartoons. They really summarize the reasons we need cycle tracks. (We’re fighting to get one along a major road in Minneapolis right now!)

  • Jim J

    I enjoy your perspective on biking.
    I agree with Sheridan on London, but found the same thing in New York City.

  • Just had my first visit there too — how amazing. Older people riding, young people riding, parents and kids riding, people sharing one ride, business people riding, shirtless people riding. It. Was. The. Best.

  • Kevin Love

    My experience of Amsterdam was the same. Except that I am very tall at 203 cm so everyone assumed that I had to be Dutch!

    The Dutch being the tallest people in the world, I had no problem renting a bike that fit just fine.

    I love the cartoon showing the child being carried on the bike. There is a wonderful video just out showing this. See:

    I love the ending!

  • mefromthenetherlands

    In the Netherlands you will also find bicycle-parkinglots !

  • Kevin Love

    Even if someone is very small and does wind up on a child’s bicycle, they will find that the child’s bicycle is definitely not a toy but a serious transportation appliance. Just like an adult’s bike, but smaller.

    Here is the bike I got for my daughter:


    And here is the heir to the Throne of The Netherlands, Crown Princess Amalia:


  • Haha I especially enjoyed the illustration and ensuing commentary about the two drivers. Gave me a good laugh. It is great that you can express your trip so well through art, a pleasure to look at/read! Thankyou!

  • It looks like you stayed in the same place we did (shower was over the toilet – such efficient use of space). So glad that you had a good time and looking forward to seeing you around so we can catch up on your adventure.

  • Oh, so you’re a tiny cyclist like me? :) When I went to Amsterdam last summer, I rented from Mike’s specifically because they mentioned that they had bikes for short people on their website. They ended up putting me on a little Electra Townie; what kind of bike did you end up renting?

  • Elaine

    love this! I’ve just booked my trip to Amsterdam for September, any tips or suggestions are welcome!

  • Janet

    I just got back from England and can totally relate to this! There are parking lots for bikes at the train station and bikes are just as prevalent as cars! In Cambridge it was like an infestation and I was loving it! There were more bikes than autos! I totally want to go back. It was wonderful. Plus they drink Tea!

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