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Is Amsterdam Bike Friendly?

by Rafal Sulowski

Amsterdam has an image of a bicycle paradise. There is nothing surprising about this when you see full of bikes photos from Amsterdam. Indeed, there are more bikes than residents in Amsterdam and cycling infrastructure is perfectly organized. 58% of Amsterdamers cycle daily, that’s over 400 000 people. It’s a lot of people. Isn’t that a cause of accidents? Is Amsterdam bike friendly?

Yes, Amsterdam is very bike friendly. In fact, it has one of the most successful bike infrastructures in the world. Bikes have a very specific role in the capital of the Netherlands and it is transportation. That’s why you need to follow rules which let everyone get safely to their destination point.

Photo by Filip Mishevski on Unsplash

In this article, I will give you more insight into cycling culture in the Netherlands. You will learn why there are so many bikes. This article will be especially helpful for people willing to come to Amsterdam. I share with you the most important cycling rules and some tips&tricks.

Amsterdam Cyclingh Culture

I am in love with Amsterdam cycling culture. I ride my bike on a daily basis and it feels great to ride along beautiful canals, narrow houses, and cafes which smell of a fresh coffee. Weather is also great for cycling. I don’t know why people keep on saying that it’s bad. I am already 6 years here and since I come the weather is just on point. In summer it is not as warm and in the winter you can barely see snow. Most of the time it’s just perfect.

Many people perceive Amsterdam as a bike paradise, but you must be aware that cycling in this city has one most important function – transport. Mostly only the tourists ride a bike for fun. If you are new in the cycling culture of Amsterdam, keep in mind that you have to follow some rules. You can learn them in the next paragraphs.

You should be aware that Amsterdam isn’t the most bike-friendly city. In the Netherlands, there are more cyclist oriented towns. I would say that pro-bike culture can be seen all over the country, not only in the capital. Among the big cities, more bike-friendly are Almere, Eindhoven or Den Haag. The most bike-friendly city in the Netherlands in Groningen.

In the Netherlands, there is a whole community of people whose main mean of transport is a bike, cheap, sustainable and healthy. I am often amazed that very old people in the Netherlands are still healthy and active. That’s because cycling is their daily exercise. Cycling has a great impact on your health, so get ready let’s go for a ride.

Interesting Facts About Cycling in Amsterdam

All streets are bike lanes

In most cases, there is a bike lane, but in the city center not. If there is no bike path then a street is a bike path. If it is not allowed to cycle on the street you will see a sign that clearly bans bicycles in a particular area. But you can rarely see these signs. In most cases, you can cycle almost everywhere when there is no bike lane.

Amsterdam will be car free

Maybe it won’t be completely car-free, but that’s the trend we can clearly see now. Car tax, insurance, and prices of petrol skyrocket. Parking in Amsterdam is the most expensive in Europe. For an hour of parking in the city center, you can pay as much as 7,50 euro. They build big bicycle parking in different areas of the city. Diesel cars older than 15 years will be banned in Amsterdam since 2020. 2030 is a year when all diesel and petrol cars are going to be banned. Maybe that sounds crazy but this isn’t an idea. This is a plan that is going to be executed until 2030. Amsterdam is going to be an emission-free city. I love this idea because to be honest Amsterdam isn’t that big, and you can get anywhere by bike or by public transport. Until this year electric cars, scooters, bikes, and other vehicles will be more affordable and available to a bigger group of people. We should definitely focus on a healthy environment. Air pollution is a silent killer in the big cities, so other big cities can learn a lot from Amsterdam.

There is a museum you can cycle through – Rijkmuseum

There are over 880 000 bicycles in Amsterdam

Why are there so many bicycyles?

It hasn’t always been like this. This cycling culture was created in the last 50 years. In the 1950s cars were seen as a future mean of transportation. That’s why many roads were built in the Netherlands. It caused fatal accidents, especially among children. In the 1970s after a wave of protests, something started to change. Dutch had a great fighting spirit and the result of this was a change in the policy of the government. They realized that cars are not a way to go and they started to focus on other, safer ways of transportation. Amsterdam we can see today wasn’t always like that. Bikes are quite new to this city.

Photo by Raphael Nogueira on Unsplash

Cycling Rules in Amsterdam

Here I will share with you some cycling rules and safety tips regarding biking in Amsterdam.

  1. Stay in your lane – keep riding on the right side of the cycling path. The left side is for people who cycle fast. Always when you overtake another cyclist, look in the back.
  2. Follow Traffic Rules – Always stick to the cycling path, don’t ride on pavements and streets(you can ride on the street only when there is no bike lane) You will often see Dutch people don’t respect traffic lights. Don’t follow them.
  3. Give a sign – Give a sign always when you turn.
  4. Lights at night are obligatory – If you don’t have lights turned on you will get a fine.
  5. Keep an eye on tram rails – It’s very easy to fall when your wheel is stuck in a tram trail.
  6. Be kind to other cyclists – always give space to other cyclists, in rush hours there are such a lot bikers and we all have to follow the rules and be kind to each other
  7. Avoid Rush hours – between 8 and 9 in the morning and 17 and 18 in afternoon Amsterdam is a wild west, so if you can avoid these hours. It’s better for you all everyone in Amsterdam will appreciate it.

Amsterdam Traffic

58% of Amsterdamers cycle daily. That’s a lot. You may wonder how bike traffic looks like in the capital of the Netherlands. Although there are so many cyclists, everything is well organized and Amsterdam has one of the lowest accident rates in Europe.

Car traffic is organized in such a way so it is bike friendly. Cars in the city center can ride no more than 50 km/h and often only 30 km/h. There are many bumps, roundabouts, narrow streets. Everything is designed to calm down traffic. Safe intersections are designated specifically to avoid accidents. If you have ever tried to get to the city center of Amsterdam by car you know that this city is taken over by bikers. In many cases, it’s faster to get somewhere on bike or scooter then by car.

Lock Your Bike

Imagine what is the most common crime in Amsterdam? Yes, it’s bike theft. I have even see thief selling stolen bikes on facebook groups. If you forget to lock your bike, you may not see it again. There are basically two locks that each bike in the Netherlands should have. The first one is a back wheel lock which isn’t that popular in other parts of the world, but in Amsterdam, you will see it almost on every bike. The second one if a chain lock. The best thing you can do is to lock both and connect your bike with a chain to something firm, such as bike stand, other bike or a railing. Even if you lock a back wheel but you won’t connect a bike to anything someone may carry it with him and you would be surprised how often it happens. Bikes in Amsterdam have this special skill and they sometimes disappear – very quickly.

Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash

Dutch Bike Brands

Dutch bikes are sturdy and strong. They survive years of keeping them outdoor. Most people don’t keep a bike at home so they are affected by all kinds of weather. Don’t worry. Dutch know how to craft a strong bike and among the best and the most popular Dutch bike brands are:

  • Gazelle
  • Batavus
  • Veloretti
  • Koga Miyata
  • Van Nicholas
  • Sensa
  • BSP
  • Cortina
  • Vanmoof
  • Babboe
  • Urban Arrow

Here on another blog of mine, you can read more about Dutch Bikes -> LINK On this blog you can find anything about Dutch bikes and Dutch style bikes. Enjoy.


So as you can see bikes are more then welcome in the capital of the Netherlands and cycling Infrastructure is well planned. Let me know what is your experience of riding a bike in Amsterdam. I love hearing from our readers

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