Amsterdam May Not be Right for Everyone

By Ryan Durden on October 9, 2012

Unbeknownst to most travelers, Euro Disney isn’t located in Paris. The real Disney World for adults in Europe is in Amsterdam. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Ryan, Sir, what possible fun activities are there to do in Amsterdam? Isn’t that a Dutch city? Doesn’t the Dutch idea of a good time involve drinking tulip juice, wearing wooden shoes, and calling themselves ‘Orange’?” Your stereotypes are well founded, but there is a flaw in your thinking: They prefer Amstel to tulip juice. However, the Dutch do have some redeeming qualities, hard as that may be to believe. They’re incredibly welcoming, very accommodating to dumb American tourists, and have one thing that makes Amsterdam the most popular tourist destination for college-aged students:

bike riding.

Unlike most western cities, bike riding is legal in Amsterdam and often even encouraged. It’s easy enough to walk into the local bike shop and simply get the bike you need. There’s no third party, no middleman, no awkward conversation with the guy that dresses in Rasta gear with the nose ring who usually gets your bike supplies for you. Amsterdam’s system allows the city to regulate biking, providing a safe and legal community for cycling aficionados to enjoy. It’s a great system for the city as well. The city gets tax money from all of the bike stores, so bike rental actually helps keep the city clean and functional. This way, the city is profiting from biking rather than allocating taxpayer money to enforce unnecessary cycling regulations.

You might argue that biking is dangerous or unhealthy. Or you might contend that bike riding is a gateway vehicle that will lead to the use of Segways, scooters, or Hummers. But we saw no evidence to support those claims. Plenty of people were biking in Amsterdam both day and night, and we never witnessed any major accidents. There were no Hummers or scooters and we only witnessed one or two people using Segways. In fact, compared to the usual vices a city can offer (carpooling, public transit, roller skates), biking is a safe alternative, especially with the system Amsterdam has in place.

Segway users are responsible for 65% of violent crime in Amsterdam annually. Talk to your kids about the dangers of Segway use.

Photo courtesy of pilaar39 via Flickr.com

Biking isn’t for everyone. Common side effects include nausea, weakness in the legs, and shortness of breath. Consult a doctor if you have any symptoms of vertigo, persistent or vivid hallucinations, or difficulty walking, as these may be signs of a more serious condition. Biking should not be used in conjunction with alcohol or any other drugs. Women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant should not bike while in Amsterdam. People with a history of asthma, emphysema, or pneumonia should consult a doctor before riding a bike in Amsterdam. After all, there are a lot of people smoking marijuana.

Ryan Durden is a Clemson student who enjoys satire, travel, and complaining about Columbia, South Carolina. He would cherish any constructive criticism and baked goods you send his way. His inspirations include Dave Barry, Daniel O'Brien, and his muse, Natalie Portman.

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