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Thread Box:
Should I move to Amsterdam?
Thread started by Roadblock at 10.25.06 - 1:13 pm


Even though I hate SLATE magazine ever since they managed to weasel their way onto NPR in the mornings replacing The World at 9AM.... I happened to google up this great article on Bicycle Culture in Amesterdam posted up on their website. I only copied the relevant bicycle portion of the article, you can read the rest of it here:

http://www.slate.com/id/2124561/entry/2124562/

Should I move to Amsterdam:

Lately, for lots of reasons, I've been thinking I might leave the country. I daydream about moving to Canada. Or maybe New Zealand. In my most crazed and misanthropic moments, I envision myself on some sort of self-contained barge, drifting aimlessly through international waters.

In the end, though, most of my fantasies settle on Amsterdam. It's a modern, First World metropolis, and as such it's a realistic destination for me. It's not too close, but it's not on the far side of the world. It's not too cold but also not tropically hot.

In my limited visits to Amsterdam, I've always felt at home. The progressive social policy, the slicing-edge architecture, the relaxed yet refined mood ... it all speaks to me. It says: Move here.

So, to give the place a more thorough assessment, I holed up in a hotel, and I tried to imagine that Amsterdam is my home. I asked myself things like: Do I really want to move here? How would my life change? Are psychedelic mushrooms legal?

Because this is mostly just a comforting fantasy, I didn't bother with the nitty-gritty details—things any serious emigrant would take into account (the job market, housing prices, visas, etc.). Instead, I just soaked up the lifestyle. I tried to decide, in the abstract: Should I move to Amsterdam?



These were my findings:
1: The Bicycle Culture

One night, strolling in the evening air, I happened by a theater as a play was letting out. A crowd of distinguished Amsterdammers poured onto the sidewalk. The men wore blazers and ties, the women wore dresses and cardigans. Most of these theater-goers were in their 50s and 60s, with wrinkles and bifocals and graying beards.

It looked like a scene you might witness any night in Manhattan, when a throng of well-dressed New Yorkers emerges from a downtown playhouse. But there was a key difference: The New Yorkers would stride toward the curb with one arm in the air, hailing a taxi. The Amsterdammers, by contrast, were unlocking their bicycles from nearby racks, hopping up on the pedals with a little two-step, and riding away.

I can't tell you how absurd it looked—and how utterly gleeful it made me—as these older couples, in prim evening wear, mounted their bikes and rode side-by-side into the night. They whooshed past me, pedaling with ease, and their conversations carried on undisturbed. The women's dresses fluttered about their ankles; the men's cigarette smoke trailed behind them.

"There's something about riding a bike that makes you feel like you're 5 years old," my American friend Carey, who lives and works here in Amsterdam, said to me. Indeed, these proper Dutch couples outside the theater seemed to morph, before my eyes, into bouncy little children. I half-expected the ladies to shriek, "Wheeeeee!" as their bikes picked up speed and rounded a corner out of sight.

The next day, totally inspired, I rented a bike from the shop by my hotel. (Of course, a helmet was unnecessary or at least unfashionable—no one wears them here. Nor do they wear Spandex shorts; or wristbands; or water-dispensing backpacks. They just hop on the bike and go, like normal people. You'll often see a mother with two kids perched on the bike holding groceries in one hand and a cell phone in the other.)

Since Amsterdam worships bicycles, there are separate bike paths on nearly every street. There are even bike-specific traffic lights to prevent you from careening into traffic. I still assumed that I had about a 70 percent chance of causing some sort of horrific accident (tram car, canal, Belgian tourist) but decided not to worry about it.

Within moments, I was zooming around the city, elbow-to-elbow in a pack of Dutch cyclists, feeling—yes, a bit like a 5-year-old. It was fantastic. I hadn't ridden a bike in a while, and I'd forgotten the tiny thrill of coasting along with the wind in my face ... standing on the pedals and leaning over the handlebars ... weaving back and forth down an empty street.

Ignoring the wonders this does for your fitness (everyone's thin here, with shapely calves) as well as for air pollution, perhaps the best thing about biking is the utter silence of it. At night, rolling along the elegant western canals, the only sound I'd hear was my own wheels rumbling on cobblestone streets (or the polite ding of another cyclist's bell; or the watery echoes of a boat passing beneath a bridge).

On weekend evenings, young couples go out on bike dates. She sits sidesaddle on the luggage rack above the rear wheel, her skirted legs crossed daintily. She wraps one arm around his waist, while the other lifts an umbrella over their heads to ward off the drizzle. (Every time I see this, I find it incredibly hot.)
Carey let me ride on the back of her bike for a minute, to see how it felt. It felt really painful. I lack the narrow Dutch ass one needs to sit comfortably on a metal luggage rack.

reply


and yes I am considering a move to Amsterdam...



Roadblock
10.25.06 - 1:15 pm

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Sounds like it would be a positive move... You'd be greatly missed over here, but you only live once...



panic
10.25.06 - 1:29 pm

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why not? u could always move back if it doesn't work out. u mite love it, or u mite hate it, but u'll never know unless u do it. i'd say if u could, go for it.



kamboski
10.25.06 - 1:53 pm

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Amsterdam Ridazz!



Joe Borfo
10.25.06 - 2:09 pm

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that's the one thing that makes the idea of leaving so painful is all the good friends I have including you Mr. Panic. I would miss our LA river rides and stoney rides through Griffith park, adventures in altering cityscapes...... just kicking it with real people that don't judge you cause you havent seen the latest movies or have the latest gadget or fancy car

been living in LA all my life like most of my friends.... but just getting sick of seeing things erode into idiotic themed adventure malls... one giant sales pitch after another to me. It would take me all day to explain but I think a lot of peeps on here under stand where I'm coming from...

I got to visit 5 cities in the netherlands a while back (not Amsterdam unfortunately) and I just fell in love with the country. the design of the society, the open mindedness of the people.... the new ideas that actually served the public interest rather than competing against it on the sly. the fact that everyone from yound to old rides bicycles.

If I can find a good job it's a done deal....



Roadblock
10.25.06 - 2:20 pm

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"Amsterdam Ridazz!

Joe Borfo
10.25.06 - 5:09 pm"



hahaha that would be so dope.

I can just imagine some of the complications of trying to start it up.... "uh so guys check it out I'm starting up a bicycle ride are you interested in coming along? oh... you all already ride bikes... uh.. well this one is to promote riding bikes and have fun doing it. we can ride our bikes to like a bar or park or something. uh... you already do that... what about riding to work? like a commuter ride? oh... right you guys do that too." hahaha



Roadblock
10.25.06 - 2:31 pm

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go for it!



Mr. Raymond
10.25.06 - 2:45 pm

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If I could.... I would.... Handle that shit D...



panic
10.25.06 - 2:55 pm

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you're supposed to transplant all your good friends with you!

good luck if you do go!





adrian
10.25.06 - 4:41 pm

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we'll see what happens. I'm a dreamer... gimme 9 months. I'm scheduling another visit... .

damn I didnt know Keith Olbermann the sports guy does political commentary now? what can I say I havent had cable TV fo 16 years... I'm in the dark if it aint on antennae TV. lol. is this guy anything big?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WG7pcIpV10




Roadblock
10.25.06 - 4:58 pm

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make sure you keep your bike on double lock out in the Dam...



CHALIE MURPHY
10.26.06 - 4:38 pm

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Man, here's my 2¢.
In regards to moving to Amsterdam: I think I know where you're coming from in a way. I went to Paris a year ago at the end of March for about two weeks. It was the first time I'd been anywhere where I didn't speak the language (fluently) and felt perfectly at home. One of the first things I saw coming out of the subway was a girl in a thick plaid skirt and a dark wool sweater riding one of those upright old-school bikes, the bottom of which flapped in the breeze behind her. Although I didn't get the chance to ride in Paris, it was shortly thereafter I decided that the next visit to that country would be with a one-way ticket. You've roots here, and they don't go dead just because you move away indefinitely.

The whole point of that goddamn early-morning rant is, better to make the move and regret it than regret never having made the move.

Keith Olberman:
The reverse if Bill O'Reilly is the obverse. It's good for some, and that's cool. I've only ever seen his rants on www.onegoodmove.org, and now I skip them.
Self-serving, whut?



(R!)
10.27.06 - 8:03 am

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Dude go for it. Maybe you could find a forum for Amsterdam riders and get some feedback on what emigrating would be like. I hear they have a really good underground art scene.

I saw a tv special on Copenhagen and it showed that 1/3 of all transportation is via bicycle. I so want to move there.



anonymitytheif
10.27.06 - 4:32 pm

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here's a bakfiets link for you.

http://bakfietscargo.blogspot.com/



dave
10.27.06 - 7:21 pm

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My daughter was considering a year in graduate school there and wanted me to move with her...now she wants to take a year off...hmmm



alicestrong
01.5.13 - 6:50 am

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There's no bike culture there, people ride bikes there because that is what they do, they are not making a political statement, it is just transportation.

But if you want to run from your problems, go on then. run away. You'll be missed.





rev106
responding to a comment by alicestrong
01.5.13 - 10:16 am

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Focus on bringing a little bit more of Amsterdam to LA instead. Impossible?



Joe Borfo
01.5.13 - 11:38 am

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+1000 on Amsterdamizing LA

while I'm sure ridazz have infinitely more outstanding ideas on how to Amsterdamize LA, there's always this latest call to action from Roadblock:

YO #BIKELA where the eff you at? Lets put the pressure on City Council to include bike infrastructure in THIS: http://bit.ly/VDVEdG

I don't think it hurts to email city council directives, like, not just including bike infrastructure in the funding, but prioritizing the resurfacing of Backbone Bike Network streets as outlined in the bike plan. If city council is going after $$ for improving the streets, at least they could prioritize resurfacing the streets that are due for a new bike lane.



champagne
responding to a comment by Joe Borfo
01.6.13 - 7:13 pm

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alicestrong
01.11.13 - 5:03 pm

reply

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