Tram Tracks & Bicycle Tires

09 Jun

Amsterdam is a bicycler’s paradise, this is already well known. The city (and the whole of the Netherlands) has done everything in its power to make bicycling through Amsterdam a pleasant experience. Except one thing: Most major streets (and some lesser ones) have traps that gobble up bike tires. Some people refer to these traps as “tram tracks”, but I know in reality that the tram system must be subsidized by bicycle repair shops across the city.

I fell victim to one of these ingenious hazards last week. On Thursday June 2nd, it was Ascension Day, a public holiday in the Netherlands and Germany (hence, I had the day off). My wife, unfortunately, had to work, so I decided to spend the day riding around the city ‘op mijn fiets’ (on my bike) checking out some neighborhoods. We had found several apartments on that were for sale, and I wanted to see what the area around them was like.

I found the first apartment easily enough, right near the Carre theater on the Amstel River. From there, I cycled up towards the Blauwbrug (Blue Bridge). While waiting for traffic to pass, I spotted an opening and went for it. As I crossed the tram tracks (at a 90 degree angle, no less!) I heard a “whoosh!” and my bike suddenly felt weird. I got to the far side of the road, and my rear tire was completely flat. Luckily for me, there was a bicycle rental/repair shop right across the street, and they were open, so I took my bike there. They said “come back in 4 hours.”

Hmm, here I am stuck nowhere near my apartment without a bike. I debated hopping on the tram to go home, but what fun would that be? I decided to walk to the apartments and check them out anyway. What should have been a 45 minute bike ride around the city turned into a 3 hour walk, but the weather was sunny and warm. I found a nice bench near Fredericksplein and relaxed with a bottle of Albert Heijn cola. I even found a kapsalon (barbershop/hair salon) that was open, and got a much needed hair cut (more on that in an upcoming post).

All in all, I’m rather glad my bike had problems. I got to spend much more time observing and experiencing the neighborhoods than I would have had I just cycled through them. Walking around Amsterdam seeing everybody outside enjoying the weather really reminded me of why we picked this city to live in. It’s really quite a beautiful city, especially once you get away from the bars and coffeeshops and red light windows. I think we found the neighborhood we want to live in, we’re just waiting on some paperwork to go to the mortgage people before we contact a makelaar (real estate agent) and start looking officially.


2 responses to “Tram Tracks & Bicycle Tires

  1. carly

    June 15, 2011 at 17:28

    I laughed at your ‘more on that later’ comment. Having lived in AMS for five years, I find that people often want to know what I like and what I don’t like about the city/culture/people/etc. You always seem to capture the reality beyond a list of pros and cons, and with a sense of humor nonetheless. I appreciate the sense of perspective you give to the expat life. Looking forward to reading more. carly

    • thedewaddict

      June 15, 2011 at 18:13

      Thanks Carly! That’s probably the nicest thing anyone has said about my blog! Anybody else out there reading this comment, this is how you compliment someone!


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