Noiseless city

Seen and heard in Amsterdam on sunday 17 january 2016:


So the number of bikes in Amsterdam is at least 800.000. It means that 63 per cent of the Amsterdammers is riding a bike on a daily base. In the modal split, more than 32 per cent is biking, compared to 22 per cent using a car, and 16 per cent going with public transport. What does this mean? It means a noiseless city in the first place. The inhabitants of Amsterdam are almost not aware of it, but if you come from abroad you surely will notice that you almost do not hear any cars in the streets in Amsterdam. Many people, but no noise! You only hear friendly bells ringing, and electric trams moving. It seems almost impossible, no, it’s unique. Amsterdam is truly a silent city. What a quality of life!  No one should be complaining about the traffic. No? Well, there’s only one thing worth lamenting. Could we get rid of those horrible scooters? There are too many of them. They are really poisoning the Amsterdam atmosphere.

Because we all love biking, we meet our friends and acquaintances almost on a daily base, seeing them passing by, greeting them, not forgetting to telephone them afterwards, sending them an email. How are you? I saw you on your bike and we said hello, but shouldn’t we meet? Yes why not? Or we jump from our bikes and start a spontaneous conversation in the middle of the crowd. If we all would have traveled by car, this would never have happened. We would drive in our capsules, seeing nothing, meeting no other person, listening to the music on the radio, feeling bored, killing time. Just imagine, all those commuters in their cars, and we, bikers in Amsterdam, feeling free, being happy, greeting our friends every day. A ballet of bikes. Pure poetry. It makes us think Amsterdam is a village, which it is not. And I love those pictures of Ed van der Elsken from the sixties. Only men biking. I almost forgot: women were absent in public space. Have a look:





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