Category Archives: Travel

Amsterdam: The Windy City

I guess I should have expected wind like this since the windmill is one of the most famous symbols of Holland. I’m glad I’m driving today, not riding a bike. Poor Dick is flying in this morning. I think he’s in for a bumpy ride.

When you think of Holland, what do you think of first? Windmills, wooden shoes, canals, or something less innocent?

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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Travel


Amsterdam: Minicars or Maxicycles?

The cars on the sidewalk are much smaller than they appear. Smaller than SMART cars, they’re legally not even cars, they’re light engine-powered quadricycles. They’re classified as four-wheeled mopeds and because they’re regulated to speeds less than 40 kph (25 mph), they don’t require a drivers license.

Who drives these things? According to their manufacturers, 65% are people over 50, mostly men living in rural areas or remote suburbs and who for various reasons don’t want to drive standard cars anymore. Another 30% are workers between 25 and 50 and don’t have the time or resources to take the driving test. Apparently in some countries the wait can be between 1 to 3 years to take a driving test. So no more complaining about the inefficiencies at the California DMV for me.

But the perception among my French colleagues is that because these minicars don’t require a license, many of the drivers are people who got caught driving drunk. The industry doesn’t agree, saying that only 3% of the drivers have been fined for minor (albeit multiple) traffic violations, not DUI or excessive speed violations. But then again, without a license requirement would the police even care?

Do you think minicars aka quadricycles should require drivers licenses? If so, what about bicycles? Where do you draw the line?

(See I told you they were small)

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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Issues & Infrastructure, Travel


Amsterdam: The Boating Party

You know those boring corporate events you hate to go to after a long day on the show floor? This was not one of them. It’s hard to beat a canal boat cruise on a warm night in a beautiful historic city.

Our alliance partner BlueArc sponsored the event, inviting about 40 customers, resellers and alliance partners, plus a half dozen people from Hitachi Data Systems, which acquired BlueArc last week. With beer, wine, hors d’oeuvres and lively conversations, the three hour tour passed quickly. Then we rushed across town to join our colleagues for a late dinner.

What was the venue of the best corporate event you’ve attended? The worst?

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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Travel


Amsterdam: Neighborhood Bike Racks

Today I stepped out from the trade show for a walk in a nearby neighborhood. Being Amsterdam, there are bikes everywhere, on the cycle paths and locked to anything imaginable. In this little neighborhood, I found large bike racks on the sidewalk for the residents. The racks were overflowing. I guess when your bike weighs 40 pounds, dragging it upstairs to an apartment doesn’t make sense.

A few weeks ago I read an article about why San Francisco doesn’t install bike racks in residential areas. The short answer: they’re focusing on racks at commercial locations because they have more demand. But based on the article’s comments, there’s also a fear that the racks would be used by residents for long-term parking, not by visitors. Sounds reasonable at first—why fill up city-provided bike racks with resident parking? Shouldn’t residents or the building owners foot the bill for bike parking?

But take a step back and consider that long-term car parking in neighborhoods by residents is not only allowed, it’s demanded. That’s why converting street parking to bike lanes meets a lot of resistance. Some neighborhoods go so far as to restrict parking to residents only through permit programs, giving them priority over visitors. So why not give bike owners the same privilege as car owners?

What do you think? Should cities provide bike racks in neighborhoods, just like they provide street parking for cars?

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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Issues & Infrastructure, Travel


Bike Date Friday: Florida Family Dinner

Visiting family in Florida didn’t mean we’d have to miss our bike date. We just took them along for the ride. The plan: dining alfresco Florida style, which translates to dining on a screened-in porch at a restaurant down the beach. This is a far cry from the Florida of my youth, where the better restaurants boldly announced “Air Conditioned Dining Room” on signs visible from the highway.

As we rolled out of my sister’s neighborhood, a pedicab driver tried to sell us on a ride. Given that pretty much everyone in their seaside resort town rides bikes, it was a tough sell.

Besides, my sister Patty would rather pedal than sit. Doesn’t she look great in her Donald Pliner gold lame mules? It was her first time riding in heels, but it was no problem.

The parking lot at Borago wasn’t set up for a party of seven on bikes, but we made do, chaining our bikes together with cable locks. Not that the typical oversized Grayton Beach pickup truck couldn’t have held all of them.

Everyone enjoyed their dinner. My chicken piccata and Dick’s eggplant were particularly tasty.  The Pinot Grigio wasn’t bad either, but it was hardly at the optimal 45-50 degree serving temperature.

Air conditioned dining room or screened-in porch?  In a car or on a bike?

Where would you rather be on a warm and humid summer night?


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Posted by on June 10, 2011 in Bike Date, Travel

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