American cities could learn a lot from Amsterdam. Those who haven’t been there (and admittedly myself at one time), equate the Netherlands metropolis with irie coffee shops and lingerie clad women who pose like mannequins in front of glass doorways. While both of these images are not difficult to find here, it is the city’s acknowledgement of what makes a great urban area that truly stands out: pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Cycle tracks, which offer a buffered safety zone for cyclists to pedal, plenty of walkways for pedestrians and an efficient streetcar system invite visitors to explore the back alleyways splashed with graffiti, the shady headshops selling fake psylosybin, the pubs where locals belt out country songs in unison and the neon-lit smut stores that you’re half embarrassed to enter. C’mon, this is Amsterdam, liberated the way San Francisco would be if the hippies of Haight-Ashbury had never sold-out to Wall Street.