see the bicycles

As so many others have observed about Amsterdam,
I’ve been struck by all the bicycles.
But also by how everyone rides so upright—
with such erect posture—

not crouched over like I’m used to seeing people ride—
leaning over the handlebars.

It’s a more relaxed look—
less intent—
though beware
if you happen to be standing
on the bike path
in the way!

And I haven’t seen any shiny bikes—
unmarked, gleaming, expensive looking bikes
with recognizable brand-names—
beautifully sleek and stripped down to one function.
They are all rather multi-functional—
with big cushy seats,
fenders and/or mud flaps,
baskets attached to the front, or crates,
or in some cases virtually a wheelbarrow
big enough to seat several small children,
racks on the back for bags—
for children, friends, spouse or sibling.

These bikes are obviously less recreational
and more utilitarian,
less about exercise than about transportation,
more integrated into everyday life,

and we with our expensive bikes—
shiny, unmarked, gleaming,
with recognizable brand-names—
beautifully sleek and stripped down to one function—
we are the poorer for it.

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