The Meat Grinder

Long time ago (or at least before WWII) Amsterdam was often referred to as the ‘Jerusalem of the North.’ Some people call it the ‘Venice of the North’. I call it the Meat Grinder. This is what my late Father used to call the traffic model where you put cars, busses, trams, bikes and people on foot at the same level.
From Amsterdam 2016
For a tourist, the traffic situation in Amsterdam is lethal, or at least if feels like it. Bikes everywhere and stopping for nothing. Not people, not cars, not red lights. They don't use helmets. They put small children in boxes without belts on the bike. I even saw a man with a very small baby in a sling on his chest biking.

It comes as a complete surprise to me to learn that approximately 70% of primary schools offer a practical cycling examination when the pupilts are 11-12 years old. Traffic education lessons continue after the pupils transfer into secondary education. Either this is a completely new regulation, or massive amnesia sets in during puberty.

It's easy to believe that bikes have always dominated Amsterdam. Although it was very popular at the beginning of the 20th century, cars became more and more popular and the situation for bikes became very unsafe. The movement "Stop de Kindermoord" grew stronger and together with the oil crisis in the beginning of the 1970s, the local government started to plan more for bikes.
From Amsterdam 2016
Apparently, the number of people using bikes has more than doubled between 1990 and 2014. Currently, 60% of all journeys in Amsterdam historical city centre are by bike. 75% of Amsterdammers own a bike. Many even have two or more bikes: a city bicycle and/or a bike for recreation or a racer. Amsterdam is home to an estimated 880,000 bikes. Right now, the number of traffic incidents are going down but let's just see what the combination of electrical bikes and smartphone does to that statistics.

However, there are other reasons compare Amsterdam to a meat grinder, tearing flesh to pieces. One is the attitude to drugs, another the stance towards prostitution.

I've been to Amsterdam five times and find it wonderful. I love walking along the canals and over the bridges, watching the beautiful houses, shopping at the street markets, basking in the sun in the parks, peering into the art galleries and antiques shops, and gaping at the wonders in the museums. It's strange how you can both love and loathe something at the same time. Or someone for that matter.

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