Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

I am sterdam

The headline of this post is the ridiculous slogan of the tourist board. Nobody even knows what it's supposed to mean. (No, it doesn't mean anything in Dutch.) But that's about the only thing I have to complain about.

The single most notable feature of Amsterdam is not, in fact, that it's Waterworld, which it is. It's that on dry land, everybody gets everywhere by bicycle. There are wide, perfectly maintained bike lanes everywhere, that interweave skillfully with the streets and wide sidewalks. The traffic lights are set up to safely direct bicycles, pedestrians and motor vehicles. The actual volume of traffic is in that order. There is a continual torrent of cyclists everywhere: school kids, blue collar workers, guys in business suits, old folks, families with their kids, every conceivable category of human getting to work, to school, around town on errands. The style is to sit up very straight, and nobody wears a helmet. Also, nobody is fat.

Such few cars as there are include plug-in electrics, and there are charging stations on the street. Yep, you can grab one of the regular parking spaces and plug in your car. There is also a fantastic network of street cars that goes everywhere, frequently, and knits together the whole city. So the air is clean, there is no traffic congestion, and it's easy and safe to cross the street. The stream of cyclists however is a bit scary.

I'll have more to say about the city, and the conference. For now, however, I'll say this. It seems the deepest fear of conservatives in the this country is that we'll end up like Europe. Check it out, folks: it's actually better.

1 comment:

robin andrea said...

It sounds so wonderfully sane there. Are you sure you're on the same planet as the good ol' US of A?