Peter – Fairfax vs Amsterdam

When I was watching Pascal van den Noort’s videos, there were three things that stuck out to me about the roads. First was how small the roads are. The video that I watched was titled Part 5 Back to the concrete jungle and it starts out in the suburbs of Amsterdam. The road is a two-lane road, but it’s dwarfed by the size of the bike lanes, sidewalks, and parking on the side of the road. This is compared to my American suburb, where the road is essentially four lanes (two lanes for street parking and two for cars to drive by each other). Second, was the street parking itself. In the Amsterdam suburb, the street parking is off to the side and concealed from the view, hidden by trees and bushes. Again, this is in contrast to the US where street parking is just part of the road. Third, was the fact that the bike lanes seem to be equivalent to the roads themselves. There’s a certain degree of respect given to the bike lanes by sequestering them with the bushes and trees – the Dutch architects clearly wanted to protect cyclists.

Another thing that stood out to me was the prevalence of multi-family units and the fact that these houses will be attached to one another for an entire block. In the US, we place huge cultural value on the house with the massive yard and the white picket fence, and my suburb is a great example of that. In the Netherlands however, people will get a tiny sliver of a yard between the sidewalk and their front door. The Dutch yard itself is also very enclosed compared to its American counterpart – its surrounded by hedges which impart a certain degree of privacy to the homes behind them. This also gets to the Dutch tendency to try and maximize the use of every inch possible.

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