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Amsterdam’s all about bicycles.  We see it from a tourist perspective and think it’s picturesque and maybe a little quirky.  We’re the new world, surely we know how to get around better than those old Europeans.  Our cars give us freedom and consumer choice.  But there is an argument for another reality:  that the simple low tech bicycle can give us a healthier eating habits and maybe even more freedom.

Here is a short excerpt from an article in the Times about the critical role of bikes on Dutch shopping and eating habits. Amsterdamers who bike – and there are a lot of them – don’t bulk shop.  How could they?  There’s no room for that much stuff on a bike.  And the significant result is that they eat fresh food.

Imagine a daily shop, a quick ride home and a healthy dinner.  Instead of driving every other week to Costco for processed and packaged and preserved foods that can and do sit on shelves for days.  No more need for legions of chemists concocting additives and wrappers to preserve food.  No more tummy aches and weight gain.

From the article by Russell Shorto:

This in turn relates to lots of other things — such as bread. How? Cyclists can’t carry six bags of groceries; bulk buying is almost nonexistent. Instead of shopping for a week, people stop at the market daily. So the need for processed loaves that will last for days is gone. A result: good bread.

[...]

But while many Americans see their cars as an extension of their individual freedom, to some of us owning a car is a burden, and in a city a double burden. I find the recrafting of the city in order to lessen — or eliminate — the need for cars to be not just grudgingly acceptable, but, yes, an expansion of my individual freedom. So I say (in this case, at least): Go, social-planning technocrats! If only America’s cities could be so free.

The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread, Russell Shorto, New York Times