Getting around, Amsterdam

by tiresomemoi

Tramlines (version 2)Tramlines (Line #10, version 2)

Amsterdam is flat* and the well-established bike culture means there are plenty of paved bike lanes making wheeling around pretty straightforward. The rafts of bikes whizzing by can be a little intimidating at first but I didn’t note any resentment from bikers for being in the bike lane and the smooth asphalt was a much easier ride than the brick sidewalks. Should you be more comfortable out of the street, curb cuts are plentiful and the sidewalks, while mostly brick, are not terrible to roll on and are relatively shit free.

CrubcutMost curbcuts aren’t so smooth. The red asphalt is part of a bike lane.

In the city center the trams are the most practical way to cover longer distances.  Accessible routes are clearly indicated with a wheelie icon alongside the tram number at tram stops and on official bus/tram maps. That said, accessible is a bit subjective here. I found that a single tramline had both very accessible stops (almost flat) and less than ideal stops (6”- 8” rise/descent and a 2”- 4” reach). Some trams have a second conductor in the center, wheelchair accessible, car but that is not true for all trams. According to the GVB literature these conductors are supposed to help wheelchair-using passengers on and off the tram as needed. Some conductors asked if I needed help others looked at me blankly as I struggled to board. Once on the tram there is a well-marked and spacious section for wheelchairs. Overall, I found the trams pleasant (very clean) and easy to use. If you get a multi-day pass be sure to check in and out**. If you fail to check out your ticket is invalidated.

Tram flatFlat stop along the 26 tramline.

Tram step upA not so accessible stop along the “accessible” 26 tramlime.

Inside the TramWheelchair spot on a very clean #10 tram.

I didn’t spend enough time at Centraal Station to check out the restrooms but I didn’t have any trouble getting to and from trains.  It’s a huge station so give yourself time to get from point A to point B.

Only sort of on topic, Amsterdam as an old tightly packed city where access is, at best, an afterthought. This means most buildings are not accessible. The newer, the bigger the shop, restaurant, museum the more likely it is to be accessible. Most small shops and restaurants are reached by at least one or two steps and restrooms are often in the basement or behind narrow doors.

Wishful thinking here, any wheelchair using residents of Amsterdam have thoughts or suggestions about getting around your city?

*There are a lot of bridges and some of them are bit steep.

**I found checking in and out a bit creepy, little too Big Brother for my taste. Also the sound the scanner makes when you flash your card is way too industrial. I felt like a product going to market.