Cycling in Amsterdam is safe, but you must be aware of traffic rules. Watch out for tram rails because they are the most common cause of accidents. Another one is phones – never use your phone while cycling. If you do – most probably you get a fine.
This article is to give you a general overview of cycling safety rules in Amsterdam. Don’t worry too much. Amsterdam is the most bike tolerant city in the world and it is very, very safe.
It is safe because
Car Drivers – they pay close attention to bikers, and they forgive most of your mistakes. Car drivers ride slow and know that some cyclist have no idea about motoring regulations. They expect unexpected.
Cycling Paths Everywhere – In Amsterdam you can cycle almost everywhere. Bicycle infrastructure is highly developed, and the total length of cycle paths is 767 km. If there is no cycling path you are allowed to cycle on the streets. In the city center you won’t find cycling paths. Always stick to the right side of the road.
Cyclist in Center of Attention – In the past, there was a big issue with road traffic. Big amount of cars caused a lot of accidents. Because of that, Dutch authorities decided to focus on alternative sort of transportation. They invested in cycling infrastructure and promoted bike as the best way of transportation. Thanks to bikes you can get almost everywhere without getting stuck in the traffic. That’s why cyclists in most cases have priority and it’s very safe for every person riding a bicycle.
You need to be aware of…
- People who ride a bike in Amsterdam and in the Netherlands, in general, they try to go from point A to point B, so they are in rush. Keep in mind that for them it is not a sightseeing ride and don’t block cycling paths.
- You won’t find bike paths on many streets in the city center. You can cycle on streets but stick to the right side and allow scooters and other bikers to pass.
- You have to follow the road rules. By this, I mean traffic lights and signs. Most important is a blue sign with a white bike and it designates a cycling path. Be aware of bike traffic lights. Yes, there are designated traffic lights for bikers. These are regular traffic lights with a biker mark.
- Never break the rules. Some people cross street on the red light. This triggers other people to follow them and results in accidents.
Can I cycle Stoned or Drunk?
The quick answer is No, you can not ride a bike stoned or drunk. It is illegal and you can get a fine of up to 140 Euro.
Tips for Beginners
Exercise: Start your adventure in the park where is much less cyclists. Depends on where you stay you can go to Vondelpark, Oosterpark or Rembrandtpark. You will find there fewer bikers and it’s a great place to start your bicycle trip.
Give a Sign: Show other bikers what is your intention, but make sure you won’t hit anybody’s face before you signal. When you turn, always use your hand and show others direction you go. When you pass other bikers use your bell.
Lights after dark: It’s required by law to use a front and a backlight after dark. If you rent a bike from a rental agency you should check your lights at first.
Avoid Rush Hours: In the morning between 8 and 9 people go to work and about 17 to 18 they come back home, so if you don’t have to get somewhere on specific time you should avoid these hours.
- Remember where you leave your bike. It’s a good idea to check the exact location of your bike. You can take a photo or check a street name and the number. The streets in Amsterdam are very similar and you may have a problem finding your bicycle.
- Always Lock your bike properly. Bike theft is the most common crime in Amsterdam.
- Don’t use your phone – For using a phone while cycling you pay a fine of 100 Euros.
Cycle and Listen to the music
What an amazing idea. I love listening to music and riding a bike. It can be truly an amazing experience and you feel just like in the movie. But… Don’t do this. It is dangerous not only for you but for others as well. There are other bikers, cars, trams so you need to be aware of what’s happening around you. It is not illegal to listen to music when cycling but I would avoid it.
General Rules To Keep In Mind
If you are going to ride a bike in Amsterdam for the first time you should recall some general rules. There is a lot happening on the streets of Amsterdam and you need to keep in mind few important rules.
- If there is a cycling path then ride on a cycling path but most of the time you can ride almost everywhere
- Always cycle on the ride side of the road
- If there are no traffic lights, then pedestrians come first, so you have to stop
- Be careful when you cross tram rails
- Be aware of what is happening on your back and don’t stop without a reason because another cyclist may be just after you
- Don’t ride in the middle of the road, you should always take a side even if there are no signs
- Many people ask if you can cycle drunk or stoned – No! you can not. It’s illegal
- Use your bell often and let people know that you want to pass someone
- If you want to use your mobile you have to stop your bike, don’t ride and play on a mobile at the same time
- It’s very wise to lock your bicycle when not cycling. It will allow you to come back home on the same bicycle 😉
Discover City with a Bicycle
In Amsterdam, there is more than 400 km of cycling paths. A bicycle is probably the best option to discover this beautiful city. You can rent a bike or go for a guided city tour and I think it is one of the most amazing experiences you may have in Amsterdam. Public transport may be a little expensive if you would like to explore this city. I think you can organize a very nice trip with a bike and it’s going to be much cheaper.
With a bike, you will get almost everywhere, even to places which are difficult to access with a car or public transportation. Before I wouldn’t recommend going to Amsterdam with a car, because of very expensive parking places. Now it’s different because of P+R parking which is very cheap. If you come to Amsterdam you can park in P+R parking and then rent a bike.
Planning to rent a bike?
If you plan to rent a bike in Amsterdam there are multiple options. You can go through my ultimate guide here and learn about the cheapest bikes, long-term rental or even free bikes for students. In general, you can rent a bike on every corner. Maybe it is even possible in your hotel.
I would suggest you book your bike in advance. You can book it here.
Thank you for reading this article. You can find much more information on this blog about cycling in Amsterdam and ride a bike in general. If you would like to know where to rent a bike in Amsterdam here is an article. Maybe you are also interested in Where to get a second-hand bike in Amsterdam or the Netherlands in general.
Finally when you are in Amsterdam, just get on a bike and go with the bike flow. Don’t stress about cycling, enjoy your time and don’t plan where to go. There are plenty of beautiful places in this city and most of them aren’t on the trip advisors leaflet.
Thank you once again and enjoy discovering this blog.