Maybe it’s of all the lights, or the mass of humanity, or the scale of it all. Whatever it is, I’m in not much use until I snap out of its initial spell. Perhaps there’s some part of our DNA that attracts us to a hive or colony or tribe. Or maybe, it just all the cool lights.
In Amsterdam there are bike roads constructed everywhere. I’m not even sure they should be considered lanes because in many cases they are roads in their own right. The first thing I learned when I came here was that they are not for pedestrians. It only took one time. The same thing happened to me in Vancouver once. It must be a common mistake for foreigners.
Quite often you’ll see passengers sitting sideways on the rack. The racks on these bikes are sturdy and people carry everything on them. While walking in the morning I saw parents carrying their kids to school. It’s no wonder the bicycle culture is passed from one generation to the next.
Bikes are parked everywhere but the highest concentrations are around train stations. At some stations its the only form of parking. There are tens of thousands parked in massive multi-level lots.
Bike mechanics thrive here, bike shops are more common than cheese shops. However people are resourceful and I saw riders jump off to quickly fix a slipped chain or flat tire. It appears that most people know the basics out of necessity.
The floor of Toronto’s Eaton Centre as I walked through early one morning. The shapes and lines caught my eye so I used a balcony to capture it looking down. There are normally a lot of people walking around but I was here before opening.
Years ago when I lived here this was called the Eaton Center. Eaton’s department store was one of the anchors with Hudson’s Bay the other. Things have changed since those days and the stores are now different and the name of the mall is changed. However I think everyone still calls it the Eaton Centre.
In some monochrome images I’ll leave something in color. This is a technique I use to elevate individuals or things. Photography is a way to freeze an instant of time, a random moment of our lives. Here I am emphasis a person within the setting.
Each person has a unique way of seeing the world, no two are alike. When the mall opens in another hour all of those people will pour in and become a crowd. Each individual in that crowd experiences it in their own way.
This is a random shot I made in Amsterdam while walking around in the rain. It got me thinking about some general differences between the European and North American people.
In northern climates there’s no avoiding the rain. What strikes me is the commitment of europeans to using bikes. It’s one thing to ride a bike on a sunny day, but cold and rainy weather is another thing. I’d rather not ride in the rain, in North America its too dangerous and we don’t have many bike lanes.
Not so here in Amsterdam; there are as many bike lanes as roads and people are committed to this as a primary mode of transport, even in the cold and rain.
While I was walking around in near freezing weather I wore mittens and a scarf, yet I saw people riding without gloves and sometimes more than a little skin exposed. So using bikes here is a commitment beyond just fair weather riding. That’s not something that even occurred to me until I saw it for myself.
I suppose that because so many europeans use bikes, riding in the cold is normal. I think we North Americans can learn from that. It’s not so bad when if we just get on board with the idea.
The other thing that struck me was that folks here are in good shape. They’re burning calories not only from riding but by staying warm. Of course our bodies use energy just to maintain body heat when its cold.
Anyway, this is a long winded post about people and bikes. Not sure why I got off on such a tangent. I guess I was impressed by europeans and their preferred mode of transport. From that one little thing you can learn something about a people and their culture. I think we could use a dash of that here in North America. That’s my 2 cents on the subject.
This is one of my first impressions of Amsterdam. I arrived a couple of days ago for the opening of the Best Top Photographer exhibition. As soon as I got to the hotel I was out walking around the central section of the city. For some reason I had it in my mind that it was cold and not many people would be out. I’m obviously not from around here. There was a light rain but no wind and everyone was out enjoying themselves as though it was a summer evening.
That was awesome to see, so much going on, so many people outside, walking, biking, …whatever. It’s nice to be in a place where people still know how to have fun. Someone told me last night about a saying from Iceland, that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.
For someone just stepping off a plane from the states and on to the streets of Amsterdam, the one thing I would mention is to stay out of the bike lanes. The bike lanes are highways and if you’re not from around here you could be in for a surprise. Bikes are the main source of transportation and they’re everywhere, no exaggeration, everywhere.
Anyway, after a long flight from Florida, walking around the central district on a Saturday night was just what I needed. About an hour past midnight I made it back to my hotel, but the city kept on buzzing late into the night. It was a good first impression.