Bargaining with my left-wing indulgence

Yesterday I read Rutger Bregman’s excellent opinion piece in The Correspondent, and today is Tuesday. Tuesday, in my household, is the recycling day. Why Tuesday? Because the island we live on only has 2 paper trash containers. They are emptied on Tuesdays midday-ish, so on Tuesday evenings I pack all the paper trash in the house (along with all the glass and plastic) into the trunk, and I put them into the container before it gets full (it’ll be full by Wednesday night at the latest). And then, feeling that my duty as a responsible, eco-conscious citizen has been fulfilled, I reward myself with a short drive over to the Polish store in a different part of town, where I buy 4 cans of Poland’s finest honey beer.

A-HA! But hold on there just a second, why did I put trash in the trunk? (Ok that’s an easy one, because it’s bulky and I don’t have a bakfiets) Why do I drive, especially in a city like Amsterdam? Why do I even have a car? Didn’t Bregman write just about that?

I’m talking about the idealist who, as soon as personal responsibility comes up, starts shouting that we have to talk about the structures before anything else. That we first need an analysis showing that it can all be blamed on the fossil industry and the multinationals, advertisements and algorithms, capitalism and neoliberalism – anything and everything that lets us avoid looking in the mirror.

Ah, so it’d seem all the French and American socialist thinkers of the XXI century have been lying to me all along! I do have to change my ways!

But to what degree?

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I am slowly beginning to grasp the concept of “walkability.” It’s not about whether there are wide sidewalks (although there better be). Spending my second week in California I realize the absolute key part is whether you need to cross multi-lane streets/roads every 50 meters. Nothing kills the joy of walking around than having to stop all the time.

(hint: in Amsterdam you can usually just walk through the street without paying attention to lights, because there’s either no traffic, or the traffic will let you do that)

It also helps if I’m not the only pedestrian within a 5 mile radius. The other day a lady in a huge SUV pulled over to ask if everything’s ok because I’m walking down the street; she thought my car broke down and I needed help. 🤦🏻‍♂️

We sold our car today

Most of you probably don’t know, but about 5 months ago, Karolina and I bought a beautiful, red, 2013 Seat Leon coupé. We sold it today, because of our upcoming move to the Netherlands where we won’t need it, and also because it’s a major hassle moving a car to NL (a proper European federation cannot happen soon enough). It was our first car and despite the fact that we’re both pretty left-leaning, bike-riding, train-loving hippies, we were surprised how much our car–a petrol-burning, city-clogging thing–grew on us. Here is a couple of observations we made about it.

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Strava’s Cycling App Is Helping Cities Build Better Bike Lanes


Current methods of counting cyclists take a ton of time or a ton of money. The DOT can videotape traffic and have someone sit at a monitor and count cyclists, or it can send someone to sit on the sidewalk and watch them go by in real time. Neither method is terribly efficient.

You’d think that the problem of building cycling lanes is a simple one, right? Well, it’s not. Apparently most cities struggle with obtaining data; no one really knows where and how many cyclists ride, and the only method available until now was installing bike counters, but these are expensive and measure bicycle traffic only at fixed points. So now, apparently, you can buy data from Strava, and this is brilliant.1 Continue reading “Strava’s Cycling App Is Helping Cities Build Better Bike Lanes”