Earlier, there was a post about Ethical Travel and how the world needs travel/tourism to be mindful and responsible to reduce its impact on the environment. Thus, this blog about Amsterdam and Seville, two popular European cities recognized as bike capitals of the world comes like a natural aftermath. It is a relief to realize that people around the world are not turning a deaf ear to this plea. There are, however, prices to pay as masses of pedaling locals and tourists yield to the call for this low carbon footprint mode of travel around these two cities.
Amsterdam: The Real Score
Barry Neild opens your eyes about the realities of Cycling in Amsterdam: How to pedal like a local posted in CNN – Travel Section. You would think Amsterdam is a cyclist’s dream track city being pancake flat and peppered with cycle paths. You would think it’s a fitting and timely response to the world’s clamor for eco-friendly ways of traveling. You can’t help but appreciate the effort, yet you’ll be surprised that it is causing the city a lot of headache particularly in the areas of traffic, road safety and parking.
… In reality, it’s a nightmare, or at least it is until you grasp the rules of the road — and then it’s a blast.
… All around Amsterdam hapless bike-borne visitors can be seen wobbling into the paths of furious Dutch cyclists.
“Tourists think they’re in Disneyworld,” says Geert Gelissen, who runs FietsConsult, a side-street cycle hire and repair shop in the Dutch capital. “And Dutch people think they’re God on a bicycle.
The problems concerning traffic, parking and safety are not about to ease in the near future with more rental shops opening to serve the locals and the tourists visiting Amsterdam. In fact, these are expected to grow worse. It is in this light that Neild offers some tips on how to bike around the city safely.
- Ride it like you stole it: Learn to ride fast enough so as not to delay Dutch riders; they’ll hate you when you bike at a slow pace.
- But make sure someone else doesn’t steal it: An estimated 55,000 bikes go missing annually in the city, fueling rumors of gangs targeting them to smuggle to Eastern Europe. You’re going to lose your bike if you’ll casually leave it unlocked.
- Be careful where you lock it though: With parking and congestion, Amsterdam authorities are clearing areas such as outside designated cycle parks.
- Try not to look like a tourist: Be careful about attracting attention. Don’t rent a bike that’s screaming “I’m a tourist!” or flash gadgets and expensive jewelry.
Seville: The New Kid on the Block
Fast pedaling behind Amsterdam is Seville, Spain. Barry Neild lets you take a peek in this article Pedal faster, Amsterdam: Is Seville now Europe’s greatest cycling city? This is also posted in CNN – Travel Section.
… Jump back 10 years and barely anyone there owned a bike, let alone rode it.
Now, it’s a different story.
The compact city is ringed by green-painted cycleways.
Its central boulevards have been closed to all but cycle, tram and taxi traffic. And a city-wide cycle hire scheme offers 2,600 bikes from 260 docking stations.
Up to 70,000 bikes are now used daily in the city — not a huge figure, admittedly, but a giant leap from the 6,000 of a few years ago.
So is it premature to proclaim Seville’s two-wheeled triumph over Amsterdam, where 800,000 people make daily use of their cycles?
Neild makes a comparison between Amsterdam and Seville starting with bike paths. Because Amsterdam is one-third bigger than Seville, the former still enjoys more cycleways. Yet, as a latecomer, Seville has made an impressive start.
The bikes are not as classic the Dutch versions. Since the bikers here are not after speed and these rides are prone to theft, many are not really keen on overspending on expensive units.
The cycling culture was virtually nonexistent. It started with the construction of the bike lanes and was triggered by Europe’s dire economic situation when everyone was looking for a cheap way to get around. This makes Seville a model for cities with zero bike culture and who are looking to decongest the traffic.
Cycling will not just wane in Amsterdam, said to have an allocation of $500 million committed to cycling in the city. It is too early to say what’s in store for Seville, but with plans in the offing it doesn’t seem to be backpedaling real soon. Besides, in a city when the sun is always shining, biking offers a green or ethical way to see the beautiful spots in the city and in its suburbs.