My first impressions of the Netherlands came when Serah & I arrived on Friday morning at 7 o’clock in the morning. The timeliness of the country was almost immediately palpable when we were coming through the train station and were looking at the different people rushing through out it. Even though Dr. Watkins had originally told the class that time was much more respected in this country, it was not until I had witnessed it first-hand that I truly understood it. The trains, cook times, and business hours were all completely more respectful of the customers’ and the servers’ time compared to that of America.
This impression was also definitely seen in the more liberal culture of Amsterdam and the Netherlands overall. For example, after talking to a few Dutch people on the train, they explained how their culture was definitely more proactive in the way that they approach many problems. They explained that one of these problems was the ideal of legalized marijuana and prostitution. To them, having an unorthodox but regulated market of these two extremes--compared to American culture--are much more manageable and economically stimulating than enabling a black market where these things are done without regulation. This idelogy of proactivity is also seen in the way that public transit and bike infrastructure are used in ways to make sure that the nation does not go towards the car-centric, unsustainable approach that America has implemented.
These two impressions of the Netherland’s culture truly transcends into the bike infrastructure. It is evident that the bike infrastructure was not only done to ensure a timely transportation option for the bikes, but it was also evident that they had understood that investing into something as proactive as bike infrastructure would ensure the longevity of their land as it would lower the Netherland’s impact on global warming. Therefore, I truly enjoyed the ability to truly travel the entire Holland landscape with the bike infrastructure.
However, these bike facilities in the Netherlands are extremely different than the United States. To begin, the way that the Netherlands approaches the incorporation of bike facilities is completely different. In the United States, due to the fact that a majority of America still thinks that bikes are for recreation instead of actual transportation, there is not much push for bikes and the vision for the wise investment is not understood. Therefore, bike facilities are always on the road and separated bike infrastructure is sparse and unconnected in general. However, with the Netherlands, the most vulnerable user in the system is held paramount. Thus, the priority for the bikes is heavily seen and the priority of pedestrians is ultimately understood. Therefore, there were many bike facilities--especially on the way to the Maeslantkering and throughout the city of Delft. With roundabouts that understand the bike should be yielded to and the multi-use facilities for bikes, bus, and cars in the streets was extremely exceptional. Finally, it is definitely understood by the way the cars yielded and were extremely understanding of the bikes that the culture of the bikes were truly upheld and that multi-modal transportation was embedded in the culture in general.