When walking down the streets of Amsterdam and along the canals you will see them everywhere: Bikes! Riding a bicycle is one of the most popular ways of transportation in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam you will find even more bicycles than inhabitants. Are you wondering why cycling is so popular in the Netherlands, what you need to know about riding a bicycle and what the best bicycle routes are? Read this article to found out.
History of cycling
Cycling was the mode of transport from the 1940s until World War II. During the World War Amsterdam cyclists even used their bikes against the Nazi’s that occupied the city, for example to slow up convoys. After the World War II the economy in the Netherlands improved and people would start to use cars more and more. In the 1960s there were so many cars in Amsterdam that all the famous squares such as Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein were occupied by these vehicles. The municipality was even thinking of paving the historic canals to make way for cars. The increase of cars in the city centre has led to a lot of car accidents, with even 3,000 cyclists killed in 1971 by car. Once these numbers became available the municipality thought it was enough and started to build cycle lanes throughout the city. To this day there is more than 400 kilometres of cycling lane in the city of Amsterdam. This, together with Amsterdam being flat, compact and densely populated with a moderate climate, makes our city a very popular city to cycle.
Riding a bicycle in Amsterdam
There are 881,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, which is more than the population of people! Cycling in Amsterdam and the Netherlands is a culture in itself with its own norms and values. Before renting or buying a bike you should get to know a few things and remember them every time you ride a bike:
- Dutch cyclists are always in a hurry. They do not appreciate it if you stop on a cycling lane to read your map or have a look at hotspots.
- It is important to lock your bike when parking it somewhere. Around 55,000 bicycles go missing in Amsterdam per year.
- Cycling is not permitted everywhere. It is important that you stick to the bicycle lanes. You can recognize them by their red colour and big cycle symbol. If a cycle path is not present you can use the normal road.
- Trams always have the right of way. Make sure to cross tram tracks at an angle, so that your wheels don’t get stuck in between the tracks. You should also give right of way to all other traffic coming from the right.
- Use hand signals to inform other cyclists that you are turning right or left. It is sufficient to stick your arm out in the direction that you will be going.
Bicycle Routes in and around Amsterdam
Amsterdam and it surroundings have some perfect places to be discovered by bike. It is a healthy, easy and fun way of moving around. This website shows you some nice bicycle routes that you might want to discover when studying in Amsterdam.
I hope this article has helped you to gain some more knowledge about the bicycle culture in the Netherlands and Amsterdam. If you have any questions about riding or renting a bike, please feel free to ask. If you have any questions about life in Amsterdam or studying at ONCAMPUS Amsterdam as well, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kayleigh Vedder
Student Support Officer