This is just great – yes it is flatter there, and yes, cars really dont fit that city. But a good life can be lived on a bike.
From Preservation Blog
This post is dedicated to all the Americans who have told me that most people can never bicycle, because (1) you cannot carry your groceries home on a bicycle, and (2) you cannot chauffeur children around on a bicycle.
These people cannot imagine that cities could be designed differently, so people travel shorter distances that are easier to bicycle (for both adults and older children). They cannot imagine that bicycles could be designed so they can easily carry groceries and younger children.
These pictures of bicycles in Amsterdam may open their eyes. One of these bicycles has a battery assist, which is rarely needed in a flat city like Amsterdam but which would be more useful in hillier cities.
The best known bicycling image from Amsterdam is the parking at Centraal Station. In fact, no single picture can show how much bike parking is there, because there are large surface lots in addition to the structure shown below, parking so extensive that you cannot capture it in one picture.
Even more revealing are the pictures of bike parking below, beginning with the parking at the supermarket nearest to where we stayed in Amsterdam, which is part of the largest Dutch chain, Albert Hein. The store does not provide any parking for cars, but it has striped diagonal parking for bikes on the sidewalk, to accommodate all the people who carry their groceries home by bike. (We always walked there, ourselves.)
The most common type bike in Amsterdam is an ordinary one-speed with foot brakes or three-speed with handbrakes. Notice that the chain is completely enclosed, so you do not have to worry about tying your pants cuff to protect it from grease.
Even these ordinary bikes are enough for carrying two small children, one in a child seat in front of the rider, and one in a child seat behind, as shown below. If you go to Vondelpark (Amsterdam’s most popular park) on a Saturday, you will see hoards of bicyclists, many with one or two children on an ordinary bike.
The simplest improvement on this basic bike is an L-shaped bracket over the front wheel, which is built into many bikes. Sometimes people attach crude cargo carriers to this bracket, like this beat-up wooden platform.
They come with rain covers to protect your children from the Amsterdam weather. (Incidentally, I myself commuted by bicycle in Berkeley for seven years, rain and shine, and I was surprised to find that it is quite comfortable to ride in the rain if you wear a full rain suit and galoshes.)
Flat-bed cargo bikes, which can carry larger loads, are also an every-day sight, though they are less common than these lighter cargo bikes. Here is one carrying supplies to a food vendor in Vondelpark …
Here is my favorite design for a pedi-cab, meant to look like a yellow cab. (Incidentally, notice how quiet and peaceful this scene seems, even though it is near the center of a densely populated city. Now, imagine how much less peaceful it would seem if the bikes were all replaced by cars, and if the road were widened and given extra parking to accommodate those cars.)
Here is a bicycle built for two that lets the riders sit next to each other rather than one behind the other. This elderly couple seems to enjoy being next to each other and talking as they bicycle along the Amstel River, a short ride south of Amsterdam.
Here is the pedal saloon, which you occasionally see in the park or in the more touristy parts of Amsterdam. Though it is a bit hard to see in the picture, all those people are sitting at a bar drinking beer and at the same time are pedaling together to propel the bar down the street.
… and here is a tricycle with a battery assist. (Though they are not common in Amsterdam, where most people stay in good shape because they bicycle all their lives, tricycles and battery assist would be useful in the United States, where the streets are sometimes hillier and the people are less accustomed to exercise.)