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Letters to a Young Manager

Bicycles and Helmets, #516

Please note that this letter is in-process; the following are my notes

Dear Sophie,
Amsterdam and Bicycle Helmets
This is a story from email thread with Shirley on the expectations of cyclists and motorists in Denmark

---------- Forwarded message ---------
Shirley Chen <>
Date: Mon, May 19, 2014 at 3:51 PM
Subject: Bike in AMS
To: Ed Happ <>

"Over the course of my 11 years of daily biking in Amsterdam, I have never worn the helmet I brought with me from the US. No one needs a helmet here. Instead of putting the onus on the cyclists to protect themselves, in Amsterdam the onus is on society to provide a safe environment to ride in. Here, everyone bikes: the young, the old, the tourists. It usually takes me less than an hour to spot three pregnant cyclists.

I had never realised how stressed I was while biking in America until I biked with relative ease in Amsterdam. Despite the decades-old reputation of Amsterdam's cyclists for being "traffic anarchists" – riding through red lights, biking without lights at night, and so on – it is a chaos that works incredibly well.

Most motorists here are also cyclists, which enables them to better anticipate the behaviour of cyclists in traffic. Driving instructors teach new motorists to use their right hand to open their door, which forces the driver to turn, putting them in a better position to see if a cyclist is approaching from behind.

Amsterdam is by no means perfect. Cycling fatalities do occur – estimates say about six a year - but on nothing like the scale that they do in the British capital. And the Dutch do not rest on their laurels with the infrastructure they have created over the past 30 years. I am always pleasantly amazed by how the city continues to be improved."

Sincerely yours,



The safety in a context of anticipation

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