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AMS hazardous to pedestrians

Just returned from a month in Europe with 1 week in Amsterdam. Also spent 1 week in AMS in 1996. Great weather - good apartment location - enjoyed ourselves. However, have to change AMS from pedestrian friendly to NOT. More bikes in use traveling fast with little regard for traffic rules. Bigger hazard is the many, many more scooters/"vespas". Larger and faster with absolutely no rule compliance. Even locals complaining and trying for revisions to force them to use the roadways as do motorcycles. Pedestrian areas are often obstructed by parked bikes, scooters and motorcycles. Never saw any traffic enforcement - maybe all on security. Trams and buses still run efficiently. And most of AMS is easily within walking range. But, even in the core downtown pedestrians have to be vigilant and agile - numbers do not safety make.
We did not see the same problems in other towns such as Den Haag, Delft and Enkhuisen.

Posted by
3943 posts

Bikes have always ruled Amsterdam's streets, giving way only to the trams that win virtue of bulk. The bikes are sturdy, dented, and often rusty from having been fished out of canals. There is only one rule for tourists: Get out of the way. Sorry, Larry, it ain't small-town Oregon.

Posted by
985 posts

We were vigilant last fall and saw no pedestrians hit. We DID however see a motorcycle run into a bicycle which had run the light. Quite a tumble but nothing much hurt other than pride. Thanks for the reminder to watch our step.

Posted by
1068 posts

What I noticed (in Scandinavia, not AMS) is that most of the tourists were unaware of the biking customs and laws. I consistently saw tourists wandering in and out of bike lanes, and in Scandinavia, bikes do rule. Like looking right before crossing the street in England, most of the people wandering into bike lanes were just not "tuned in" to the fact that walking there is a bad move or were not used to looking for bike lanes. When they weren't in bike lanes, they were fine, when walking in a bike lane, look out! Can't speak to motorized vehicles however.

Posted by
22866 posts

That is because most Americans are not familiar with bike lanes. Just think that it is just another area to walk in.

Posted by
2487 posts

Cyclists in Germany are dangerous. Many of them use the pavement, possibly because they find the road too dangerous. In the Netherlands cyclists don't obey the traffic rules, but they do at least stay on the bicycle lane or the road.

Posted by
3089 posts

Sigh... Wish I lived in a country where so many people rode their bikes that everyone knew to watch out for bicyclists...or that had safe bike lanes like the Netherlands. Everyone should be aware of their surroundings, even pedestrians. BTW, when any driver gets out of their car, she/he should get used to opening the door with their right hand so they automatically turn and can see if a bicyclist is passing their parked car (talking USA here) so as not to "door" a bicyclist causing injury or death. After bicycling around the Netherlands, I stopped bicycling around my area on the roads (but so many of the next generation are that I hold my breath for them).

Posted by
9070 posts

Just go back from Amsterdam and the one thing that drives me crazy about the cyclists is they don't obey the non-lighted pedestrian crossings. Cars and and even trams will always stop for you, but cyclists will mow you down if you don't give them the right of way. The only exception was a crossing near my hotel which is located next to the brand new police headquarters building; in front of the police they will stop:)

Posted by
15088 posts

The last time we were in Amsterdam we had a lot of issues with cyclists and motorized bikes on pedestrian sidewalks. But many streets were torn up for one reason or another or blocked with construction equipment so that was probably most of the problem.

Posted by
648 posts

We spent a week in Amsterdam last June, and we found it quite pedestrian friendly. Bikes were parked on the sidewalks, but rarely moving on them. We treated bikes on the street like we would cars, i.e. pedestrian beware.

Posted by
212 posts

Some interesting responses to my post. We are experienced world travelers and are aware of various rules & customs. (Even small towners get "oot & aboot'). Our apartment was in Oudwest so we walked (by choice) miles every day. And what we saw and even photographed was what I described. Most of the comments completely missed my main point: the dangerous scooters. In AMS, they used the bike paths (which is allowed if slower than 25 kph/15 mph), roadway and pedestrian areas (which is not allowed) with abandon. We saw collisions with bikes, parked vehicles and once, cafe tables. We spent 3 weeks in Paris where the scooters are limited to roadways - much nicer. Our revised rating for AMS reflects our dismay at the changed conditions. We aren't comparing AMS to the traffic chaos in many of the world's big cities. {My wife reminded me of our AMS traffic rule: if where you are standing or walking is smooth, you are in the wrong place!}

Posted by
2019 posts

Many people think the bike lanes in AMS are painted red. That's a misconception. It's actually the blood of American tourists that you're seeing.

We were in AMS and July and I don't recall scooters being a problem. We stayed at the Hotel Okura (part of a package) and took the tram to the main areas of the city. It was great. My iPhone said we walked 10-12 miles a day.

The only downside of AMS for us is that I developed a dislike for its citizens. Almost all were fit and trim from riding their bicycles!

Posted by
6090 posts

Larry, our experience as pedestrians in Amsterdam was much like yours. It's true, we weren't used to so many bike lanes at sidewalk grade, and there were times we stood in them waiting to cross the street when we should have stood back further. The spilled blood at our feet should have been a cue to stay back, and eventually we learned where to stand. We also saw a lot of motorbikes in the lanes, didn't realize that was illegal. We kind of welcomed them because at least we could hear them coming! A bike hit my wife while she was on the sidewalk, not severely, but a nearby Dutchman told her the bike was in the wrong place (I wasn't there).

I think it's possible to appreciate and admire the widespread use of bikes in Amsterdam and elsewhere, and recognize that most cyclists are careful and follow the rules, but at the same time recognize that such extensive biking presents American pedestrians with challenges we're not used to at home. And, yes, I agree that bike riders in American cities can be incredibly careless and foolish. In my relatively small town, I've been hit once on the sidewalk, had a couple of near misses, and almost hit a cyclist who started across the road from the sidewalk instead of from the bike lane where I would have seen him.

Just another chapter in the endless pageant of international travel. One of the reasons we travel is to experience differences, n'est-ce pas? ;-)