Destinations Magazine

Follow the Path: Cycling in Amsterdam

By Amsterdam City Tours

Follow the path: Cycling in AmsterdamAmsterdam is of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world. The Dutch two-wheeled love affair began in earnest in the 1940s and has since blossomed into one of the most popular forms of transportation. There are rumoured to be over 7000,000 bikes in the city. And with as many cycle paths as there are roads, Amsterdam's locals truly whiz through life.

But for visitors, this way of getting around town can be overwhelming. And with bike traffic running right next to cars, trams and bustling pedestrian pathways, traveling this way can be down right scary. And, of course, there are the notorious rumours of bike thieves, whose favorite prey are the newly bike bound. Reportedly, over 100,000 cycles are stolen each year. Second only to the 25,000 bikes found floating in canals. Follow this quick list of do's and don'ts for Amsterdam bike travel and you'll survive both the traffic and the thieves!

Follow the path: Cycling in Amsterdam

Lock it up right
The way you lock your bike shows your true Amsterdam know-how, but it's not as intuitive as it sounds. In fact, all bikes in the city need two locks (that's right, two!) to keep it safe and sound. The 'ring lock' is the most common, and is placed around the back wheel and frame. The second is usually a chain lock, secured around the front wheel and center frame - and should always be slung around a stationary object. Be it a lamp-post, bike rack or any other stable item, this is essential to keeping your bike in one place and not in in the canal!

Follow the path: Cycling in Amsterdam
Ding-a-ling don't!
Those cute Amsterdam bikes are so iconic, and their handy little bells so fun to ring. Except, they're not. These bells are not musical instruments for the road, but an important awareness system. They should only be used to identify fellow cyclers that you are passing them, endangering them or otherwise need their attention. Bells are also the best way to alert pedestrians who stray into the bike lane (a hearty "hallo!" is also a great way to scare walkers back to the sidewalk!). Think of bike bells like car horns, no one should abuse them.

Follow the path: Cycling in Amsterdam
Resist the temptation
Most of Amsterdam's bikers ride like anarchists. No rules apply to them, as they speed through red lights, across pavements, down one way lanes and through traffic.  It's tempting to follow right behind these renegade riders, and feel the joy and freedom they carelessly exude as they rule the road. But, you must resist the temptation. These daredevils are breaking traffic laws, and quite frankly, putting themselves and other commuters in danger. It may sound boring, but in Amsterdam, play it safe and follow the rules.

Follow the path: Cycling in Amsterdam
Off the beaten path
Amsterdam's inner city cycle lanes can be chaotic. Watch any downtown corner heave and hoe during rush hour, and weekends. You have to be alert and on your toes to successfully navigate the centre, not exactly the relaxing, iconic image we all have of biking in Amsterdam. Set a more peaceful pace for yourself and cycle to the east or west sides of town. There, the traffic is low-key and gorgeous green spaces welcome casual cyclers. Enjoy a cruise in the Oosterpark out east or Westerpark in the west. The bonus - you can rest your newly buff biking legs with a picnic in the park!

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