With the knowledge you've gained of the basic road layout, we can now move on and discuss how you can put that knowledge into practice while in Amsterdam. In most other cities, if you want to cross the street, you mindlessly walk over to the curb and THEN look both ways. That is not the case here, oh no. Not unless you like having 1.5 inch tire marks across your face.
Who remembers what is between the sidewalk and the road here? .....Any takers? I'll give you a hint: "hundreds of bikers whizzing by". Yes, that means there's a bike path between the sidewalk and road. But not to fear, between the road and the bike path (if the bike path not on the street) is a curb wide enough for someone to stand while waiting for traffic to subside. This also means if you have finished crossing the street, you MUST pause on the curb and look both ways to make sure there are no bikes coming. If you don't... well, you've taken your life into your own hands.
Before we proceed, let me explain one thing. Pedestrians NEVER have the right away. I appologize to those who may take offense, or feel that it's against everything they've been taught, since they've grown up in a location that stops for the common "by foot" traveler. But this city likes to be different and keep you on your toes (no pun intended). If smoking weed and prostitution are legal here, why not be liberal on the road as well and let bikers be the ones who are yielded for? And thus it is.
Keep the following things in mind:
- Even though bike paths are smooth and pretty looking, they are NOT there for you to walk on.
- If you do not see a bike path next to what you think must be the sidewalk, and there is no bike path on the road, beware. Chances are, you are walking on the bike path, and the sidewalk is actually on the other side of the street.
- Keep your ears open for bikers ringing their bells and act accordingly. They usually don't ring the bell 'just because they like the sound'.
- Always, ALWAYS look both ways when going across the street and across the bike paths. Remember there are bike paths on either side of the street.