Hundreds of thousands of people visit Amsterdam for different reasons. The Dutch capital has a rich history, culture, and traditions. It is home to historical buildings, museums, art galleries, and much more.
However, Amsterdam offers something for everyone, boasting a vibrant nightlife, plenty of clubs and bars, and the world-famous red-light district. Do you know Amsterdam is famous for bicycling?
People of all ages and walks of life use bicycles in Amsterdam. The reason is that riding bikes is a tradition, a convenient option, and better for the environment. The city has more than 400 kilometers of bicycle paths on flat terrain, making it suitable for people to ride bicycles.
Amsterdamers discourage driving motor vehicles because they contribute to carbon footprint, environmental pollution, and accidents. Likewise, many streets in Amsterdam do not allow cars, and the parking fees are costly in most parts of the city.
So, these are a few reasons Amsterdamers prefer to ride bicycles. More than 442,000 households in Amsterdam have 847,000 bikes. So, the number of bicycles in Amsterdam is four times higher than that of cars. Many people, particularly foreign visitors, ask whether cycling is safe in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has 400 kilometers of bicycle paths and lanes, making it safe for everyone to ride bikes. However, for personal safety, it is better to follow the traffic rules, stay in your lane, focus on the symbols, signs, and lights, and avoid riding on motorways, footpaths, pavements, and shopping streets.
Amsterdam is the most bike-friendly and safest city in Europe. Thousands of locals and foreigners experience riding bicycles in this picturesque town. However, if you are a beginner and have not experienced riding a bike in Amsterdam, consider the tips in this post to maintain your and other people’s safety.
How to Safely Ride a Bicycle in Amsterdam?
Bicycling is one of the best ways to explore Amsterdam, particularly the older city center, because it has narrow streets and gorgeously stunning and scenic canal banks. So, visiting Amsterdam and not riding a bicycle to explore the city won’t complete your trip.
If you want to create memorable experiences, we recommend riding a bicycle in Amsterdam. However, if you are a beginner or new cyclist unfamiliar with bike lanes, paths, signals, etc., we suggest following the tips and tricks mentioned in this post.
Choose a Suitable Location
Amsterdam has hundreds of bike lanes and pathways, making it easy for people to ride bicycles efficiently, reliably, and safely throughout the city. The purpose is to have an enjoyable experience.
You will find the cycling lanes and paths on the ride-hand side of the street in Amsterdam. Bear in mind that some bicycling routes have two-way lanes, and most are on one side of the road.
We recommend choosing a suitable location in the city if you are a new cyclist or a foreigner. Lanes have white lines and markings painted on the road. Some bicycle lanes have red-colored paths and markings.
The purpose of these markings is to distinguish the lanes from other vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles. In addition, maintaining safety requires Amsterdamers and foreign visitors to ride their bikes on the ride-hand side of the road.
The old city center and canals have plenty of bike lanes on the streets. However, roads in these areas are used by different vehicles. So, we suggest riding with the flow of traffic and ensuring the bike is on the ride side to let cars and motorcycles pass.
Adhere to the Traffic Regulations
Adhering to the traffic regulations, such as remaining on the bicycle path, is essential, particularly if you want to enjoy riding your bike and making the most of the adventure in Amsterdam.
So, you must observe, follow the rules, and respect the paths/lanes reserved for other vehicles. Amsterdamers pedaling their bicycles on the sidewalks usually get off and walk. The reason is that sidewalks in Amsterdam are for foot traffic.
You can’t ride through pedestrian areas. Therefore, look for the signs on the streets, and when you see a sign indicating “pedestrian-only,” stop riding your bike and walk the road for your and other people’s safety.
In addition, traffic rules say that locals and foreigners can’t ride bicycles on shopping streets, walkways, motorways, and sidewalks. On the other hand, if you violate the traffic rules, you will face the consequences and pay heavy fines.
People would yell and call you out if you rode your bike down the shopping street or sidewalk. Likewise, people will yell at you if you walk in the middle of a bicycling lane. So, make sure you follow Amsterdam’s traffic rules and regulations for a pleasant biking experience.
Focus on the Signs
Amsterdam’s administration and local government have made substantial efforts to make biking an enjoyable experience for locals and tourists. The city has numerous biking signals, signage, and lights.
Authorities have equipped the most significant junctions with flashing green, yellow, or red traffic signals. Adhering to the lights will protect you and prevent you from falls and accidents.
These lights have shapes similar to a bicycle. Therefore, focus on the lights and ride your bike when the light is green. People who fail to understand and adhere to the traffic lights, particularly the ones installed for bike riders, experience severe accidents and injuries, so it’s vital to follow the rules.
There have been many accidents in the past, and sometimes, they lead to the riders’ death. Tourists are usually unfamiliar with the biking signage, signals, and lights, making them more vulnerable to accidents. So, understanding these signs and signals is essential to maintaining your overall safety.
Proceed with Caution
Proceeding with caution is directly proportional to riding your bike efficiently, reliably, and safely. For example, if a tram comes from a specific direction, you must not come in front of it. The purpose is to ensure the tram rides in its path or lane.
Keep an eye on the triangles and stripes as these signs indicate vehicles are on the way or the area has busy traffic. For instance, slow your bike when you see zebra stripes on the road. These stripes indicate a pedestrian crosswalk.
These principles apply to all other vehicles, including cars, buses, motorcycles, and bicycles. Generally, buses and taxis in Amsterdam fail to follow the guidelines; we suggest proceeding cautiously to maintain your safety.
Give Appropriate Warnings
Giving appropriate warnings is essential when riding your bike on the busy streets of Amsterdam. Give a signal before you make a turn using hand signals. The purpose is to change directions efficiently and safely.
People in Amsterdam are well-aware of hand signals, meaning they can save you from accidents and protect others from experiencing injuries. Dutch are highly proficient and trained in the use of hand signals.
Hand signals alert vehicles, including cars, taxis, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. You tell others you are on the right path/lane and do not wish to overtake. That way, you can avoid disturbing pedestrians and save yourself from trouble. Otherwise, the chances are that you will experience a severe accident.
Maintain a Steady Speed
Speed is one of the most critical factors when riding a bicycle in Amsterdam. Maintaining a steady pace allows you to relish the city’s picturesque views, control your bike’s movement, and prevent others from accidents.
Therefore, avoiding riding your bicycle across multiple people and maintaining a steady speed is essential to protecting other bicyclists. Remember, you must not use a map or smartphone when riding a bike on Amsterdam’s streets. However, you can pull over and get the job done if there is an urgent call or you want to take photos.
Use a Map for Convenience
While locals are familiar with Amsterdam’s directions, streets, and paths, tourists find it challenging to ride their bicycles on the city’s busy streets. Cycling through this beautiful city without a proper route plan and guidance is daunting, frustrating, and annoying.
At the same time, not having a route plan can increase the risk of inconvenience and unreliability, making it more dangerous to ride a bicycle. For example, the old city center has hundreds of winding, narrow streets, and many canals. You may get lost in the complex network of the old city center’s streets.
The good news is that you can use a map to avoid inconvenience and achieve a better bicycling excursion. We recommend renting a bike from a reputable service because it provides a city map with easy-to-read details. However, if you don’t have the map, you can purchase it from tourist information centers.
Keep Front and Rear Lights On at Night
Riding a bicycle on the beautiful streets of Amsterdam at night is a one-of-a-kind experience. You will love the luscious décor, well-lit streets, and picturesque nighttime views. However, fog makes riding a bicycle at night, particularly in winter, challenging and inconvenient.
According to Amsterdam’s traffic rules, riding a bicycle without front and rear lights at night is illegal. So, we recommend keeping the lights on at night. Rent a bike from a reputable shop/service to ensure everything goes smoothly. A rented bike has the quality and functional front and back lights.
Although Amsterdam is a safe city with low crime rates, thieves operate at night. Thieves or drug abusers can steal lights from your bike. So, if you have to stop somewhere, such as a café, you must park your bike appropriately.
We recommend detaching your bicycle lights and carrying them with you. Always lock your bike to avoid thieves stealing it. Follow these tips/tricks to maintain your bicycle’s safety at night.
Don’t Drink Alcohol Before Riding a Bicycle
While many people in Amsterdam believe riding a bicycle is okay after drinking alcohol, this irresponsible behavior can lead to accidents and injuries. Not only does this increase the risk of injuring yourself, but you can also experience the liability of harming others.
Always follow the traffic rules in Amsterdam to avoid legal penalties. The traffic regulations say that biking under the influence of alcohol is 100% illegal in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities. It can result in a hefty fine; in the worst-case scenario, the court of law can sentence you to jail.
Don’t Take Selfies While Riding a Bike
Avoid using your smartphone or other electronic devices when riding a bicycle because this can distract you from relishing the scenic views. At the same time, taking selfies on your smartphone or camera can divert your attention and increase the risk of accidents, falls, and injuries.
Remember, the same rules apply to driving a motorcycle or car. The best way to take a selfie for your Facebook or Instagram is to pull over, find a suitable place, and take a photo.
Besides, pull over to check the map for the route if you feel lost in the complex street network. Safety rules highlight that bicyclists must not use selfie sticks while riding their bikes on the streets because this is hazardous and can cause accidents.
However, you can take photos and record videos by mounting the camera or smartphone using a premium-quality attachment or accessory. Still, you must proceed cautiously and follow the rules to maintain your safety.
Don’t Leave Your Bicycle Unattended
Avoid leaving your bicycle unattended in Amsterdam, especially if you park it on a busy street. Otherwise, thieves operating on the roads will not miss the chance to steal the bike. Statistical data shows that thieves steal thousands of bikes every year in Amsterdam.
Thieves usually operate at nighttime, meaning you must lock your bike, detach the lights and other accessories, and keep an eye on the bicycle. We recommend using heavy chains and U-locks to secure the bike to the rack and prevent thieves from stealing it.
We recommend using the lock on your bike’s front wheel and the frame. At the same time, you must ensure the lock fits accurately, precisely, and securely. Moreover, avoid parking your bicycle in prohibited areas. Look for the signs installed by the city authorities. Otherwise, the administration’s team will remove your bike.
Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful, scenic, and picturesque cities in the world, boasting natural beauty, canals, unconventional restaurants, world-class museums, locally crafted beers, and wines, rich culture, diverse traditions, vibrant nightlife, music, and much more, making it the top tourist destination in Europe.
However, Amsterdam is also famous for riding bicycles. Cyclists, including locals and foreigners, rule this beautiful city thanks to the elaborate network of bicycling lanes and paths. Although riding a bike in Amsterdam is safe, follow the tips/tricks above to create memorable and hassle-free experiences.