How to survive a Bike ride in Amsterdam
You decided to come to Amsterdam, the bike capital of the world. Can you imagine getting on a bike yourself? Don’t be afraid, you too can survive the Amsterdam cyclists’ jungle. How? See below the rules for cyclists.?
In Amsterdam: Bike = Car
Think about what facilities you have as a car driver anywhere in the world. In Amsterdam we have all this for the bike. Separate lanes, traffic bike lights, insurances, and bike laws. We even have parking garage for bikes of several levels. Strangely enough we have no law for wearing a helmet – we are very conscious of our haircut.
When you want to drive safely in our city you have to know some rules. It is like driving a car in a big city. So here are the things you need to know before you hit the pedals with us.
1. Stay in the Bike Lanes
Everywhere in the city you will see our famous bike lanes. They are generally one way, so find the one at the right side of the road and don’t turn in the lane.
If the road is combined with cars, you will most of the time have a red painted lane with the bicycle on the pavement. This sign typically faces the direction that you’re supposed to bike in.
2. Try our Back Brakes
A traditional Dutch bike doesn’t have handbrakes but a ‘pedal’ or ‘back’ brake. This means you just have to pedal backwards to stop your bicycle. Cool to try one day.
Please make sure to practice before hitting the road. You wouldn’t be the first tourist damaging his shoes try to stop. Good to know that for our Bike Tours we also have bicycles with hand brakes for your bike ride.
3. Always Lock your Bike
We have millions of bikes in Amsterdam, but still bike theft is a huge problem. So if you park somewhere, even if it is for 1 minute, always double lock your bike.
Every Dutch Bike has a lock through the back wheel and a second chain. The chain should always be attached to a pole, lamppost or a fence.
4. Mind the Tram
They will never stop for anyone, and you don’t want to get runover by this monster of steel. When you hear their famous bells, make sure to stay out of their way.
Maybe even more dangerous are the rails. Every Dutch citizen had incidents involved getting stuck in the damn rails. If it happens you can’t do anything and most probably you will see the pavement up close. So try to stay away from the rails and only pass the rails at a large angle.
5. The right of way
In general a car, tram, bus, moped or bike who is coming from the right has the right of way. So first look to the right at every intersection.
But there is more. You will see at a lot of intersections something that looks like this. This means that if the one-sided edge of the triangle is pointing towards you, you’re supposed to stop for other traffic.
The same for crosswalks. Officially you have to stop if a pedestrian starts walking over the crosswalk. We know that most Amsterdammers will never do. We will get points for every tourist we hit 😉 But that’s not how it should be at your bike ride.
6. Be prepared for the Weather
We can not warn you enough, be prepared for all types of weather. “Four Seasons in one Day”, Crowded House’s famous song, could have been written in the Netherlands.
The Dutch always bring a rain jacket and their sunglasses and in wintertime also a hat, shawl and a set of gloves. Just to be sure.
7. More tips for your bike ride
Some shameless self-promotion to end this blog. You can join one of our bike or other tours, we will make sure you will have a great time and will get more confident on the bicycle. We offer group tours with our sister company Joy Ride Tours or go for a Private Bike Tour with your own guide
Get more advice from Maxim, how to survive a bike ride in Amsterdam. OMG his accent…..