On the morning of our first full day we rented a pair of bikes. In case you didn’t know, this is what they do in Holland. They ride bikes. Everyone, even old people. There are so many bikes in Amsterdam that the bicycle parking garage outside the Central Station has room for 2500. But they would need space for an additional 7500 to accommodate all the bikes which are parked all over the Central Square every single day. There are so many bikes in Amsterdam that more than 55,000 are stolen every year. There’s an old saying in Amsterdam that the canals are only six meters deep—two meters of water, two meters of mud, and two meters of bicycles. There are so many bicycles in Amsterdam that on some busy streets the bikes are more dangerous than the passing cars and trucks. From what we could tell, bikes are king here, and pedestrians are expected to get out of the way. If you’re in Amsterdam, and you hear a bike bell, you’re probably about to get run over. So when you are walking, keep your head on a swivel, and listen for the bell!
Although we spent a lot of time stopping to check the map every few blocks (even the bicycle vendor admitted that everything looks the same here), we had a great time on our bikes. It made us feel very Dutch, and helped to burn off some of the calories we were eating and drinking. Each of us only crashed once. Mine was a bit more dramatic (sorry, no video). Shannon simply ran the back of her bike into one of the knee-high stanchions that keep the parked cars off of the sidewalk. Me, I was making a turn across a spot where two tram lines converge. My front wheel got stuck between the tram track and the cobblestones. When I tried to turn the wheel to make the turn, the bike simply plowed over on its side as the front wheel was stuck in the tracks. I tried to catch myself with an outstretched leg as the bike went over, but the strap of my camera bag got snagged on the handlebars, pulling me down onto the street. Several concerned locals stopped to assist and asked if I was alright. I was physically unharmed, but a little embarrassed!
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