Cycle Like The Dutch – Navigating Amsterdam

If Amsterdam was ever overrun by hostile forces, evil doers or ill wishers the inhabitants of the city would be able to rest easy in the knowledge that these invaders would not make much progress, quickly lose motivation, soon give up altogether and returned home in a very disgruntled mood. The reason for this cannot be attributed to any superior tactical advantage or any well designed fortifications that the city has. It is because of one thing and one thing only; moving vans.

The Challenge of Cycling Around Amsterdam

A single moving van is capable of blocking an entire canal street thus making passage by bike quite impossible without the risk of running over a pedestrian, cycling into a dinning set, being decapitated by a wing mirror and/or pushed in to the nearby canal by the driver opening the door.

The presents of a stationary moving van usually forces a diversion which will most likely turn out to be blocked itself by another moving van. In fact it is entirely possible to have your attempted detour continually thwarted one street after another until (before you realize it) you are cycling from East Amsterdam to West Amsterdam via Rotterdam. This also means that several moving vans working together could easily shut down entire sections of the city and bring Amsterdam to its knees if they so desired. Moving vans are above the law. They answer to no one. They are the law.

Driving In Amsterdam

Things get much worse if you are unfortunate or foolish enough to be driving around Amsterdam because a single moving van is also capable of creating very long traffic jams.

If a car encounters a moving van the driver is forced to wait and watch as every piece of furniture is paraded in front of them like some kind of Ikea drive through. Although it might feel tempting it is important to know that beeping of the horn is ineffective at this point, especially if you wish to generate sympathy for your current predicament from those living in the surrounding area.

Only once a moving van has been fully loaded with furniture, unloaded, rearranged to fit an odd shaped sofa, reloaded and the movers have had their fifth tea break (in view) will the moving van finally be ready to move. Victory is usually short lived however as most of the time the moving van just stops again after a few meters to start unloading at the new destination. Amsterdam is a small city after all.

Check out more stories of my bike related stories in: Cycling In Holland

18 responses to “Cycle Like The Dutch – Navigating Amsterdam”

  1. Alison says:

    Today I had to navigate my way around numerous large trucks that seemed determined to run me over, or at least block my path every time I tried to go a different way, and I was on foot. I even had the same UPS van blocked me at two different times today! So yes, I understand this concept completely after the past couple of days!

  2. Tweets that mention Invading Holland » Navigating Amsterdam -- Topsy.com says:

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  3. Anneke says:

    :D Or all evil-doers will be distracted by the coffeeshops. I’m hearing there are a lot of those in Amsterdam :P

    If ever a moving van decides it needs to live on my street I’m licky if I ever get home. My street is very small, in fact, it’s not even a street. I officially live on a bicycle path. (which is still pretty wide, but you know, still.)

  4. Invader Stu says:

    Alison – After reading about your wine delivery adventure as well I’m starting to think Utrecht might be a little worse for navigation.

    Anneke – Invaders would most likely be coming over for the coffee shops and red light district, that is true :p

    You could take up residency in the moving van until they get out of the way. There will be a couch for you to hang out on after all.

  5. julia says:

    I think the solution is to become a moving van driver or owner. That way you become part of the power structure of the city. You could create moving van worker’s union and then have them “strike” at certain times of the day. You’d have to coordinate where they were protesting but it could work out to your advantage. Everyone else would be stuck behind the vans but you could work out a clear path to your destination.

  6. Invader_Stu says:

    Julia – I think you are on to something. Maybe there already is an eccentric moving van company owner who is just doing all this for fun. the question is if I set up a moving van company will there be rival moving company vans.

  7. French Bean says:

    Let’s just hope France doesn’t get word of how moving vans could potentially stop a city; they don’t need any more ideas for strikes. :-P

  8. Invader Stu says:

    French Bean – My god. If they find out about it they would not just be able to take over France… they would be able to take over the world!

  9. Keith says:

    I think this is just “sour grapes” on your part. You desperately want to move to a different country (I think the Dutch Government want you to as well!) and you just can’t afford to hire a moving van yourself.

    Lets face it, you’re just jealous of the people that can afford to move and pay vast amounts of money to hire a moving van to block the streets. . .

    Do they have “moving boats” on the canals and block those ‘orrible tourist water buses?

  10. French Bean says:

    Comment to add: I think the French got wind of this plan, Stu.

    Yesterday, as I was waiting for my bus connection to go to my job, a giant moving truck attempted to make a U-turn at the busy avenue and actually blocked traffic for nearly two whole minutes!

    It was quite frustrating because I was frozen and observed how my next bus was tantalizingly close to my stop but still too far away to board it! Gah!

  11. Bart says:

    This is why they have those canals: so you can swim to your destination.

  12. Invader_Stu says:

    Keith – They don’t have those but I might start doing it for fun.

    French Bean – Wow. The French have stepped up their game. Not only are they blocking a two way street but they are using physiological torture by making you watch your bus that is so near yet so far.

    Bart – You raise a good point. I’m going to try and make my bike anfibios.

  13. Hmm, I wonder if perhaps the white van men are actually secret agents in a cunning disguise trying to stake out the same place. They would, after all, just keep moving the van around the same area, wouldn’t they?

    Any shifty looking characters around?

  14. Invader Stu says:

    Unexpected Traveller – That depends if you count me?

  15. Valentijn says:

    It’s even better when you’re following a truck that gets stuck behind a moving van. Apparently it’s traditional in Amersfoort for the stuck truck to back up very quickly without looking in the rearview mirror.

    By doing this, the truck driver guarantees that any cars behind him will also back up very quickly without having time to create a fuss.

  16. Invader Stu says:

    Valentijn – I forgot about that one. Luckily I have never had it happen to me.

  17. vallypee says:

    Oh Stu, you had me totally flummoxed here. I thought ‘how can a van be moving and stationary at the same time?’ It was only when you mentioned furniture I knew what you meant…haha. I am dumb, aren’t I? In SA we always called them removal vans, so that’s what floored me. Great story, by the way. I’ve been caught more than once trying to wriggle my way round one of those vans on my way to the university!

  18. Likeahike says:

    So glad I live in the quiet city of Zwolle, where bicycle highways allow you to traverse the city with hardly a car to be seen. And if you do encounter one, the bicyces often have priority, so the cars have to wait. By the way, in the third paragraph, first sentence, it says presents in stead of presence. And totally off topic, I just bought some Speculoos ice cream at Jumbo and it is delicious. ;-) Have you tried it yet?

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