Biking through Amsterdam: What You Need to Know0
When in Amsterdam, do as the Dutch do – and by that I do not mean just splitting the bill or throwing down a glass of whiskey before approaching a girl at the bar. First-time Amsterdam visitors quickly realize that bike is the easiest and the cheapest way to navigate the local streets. In addition to speed and affordability, biking though Amsterdam is extremely enjoyable as well. If you are planning to visit the Dutch capital any time soon, check out the tips listed below and prepare ahead of the trip properly.
1. Sightseeing your wallet’s way
Sightseeing Amsterdam on a bike allows you to customize the tour and spend as much time as you want exploring different parts of the city and landmark monuments. Bike rentals in Amsterdam are highly affordable compared to other European capitals, and average day rates total as few as EUR 8. Discounts are also available for multi-day rentals, so you can get a bike for as few as EUR 4 a day. If you intend to stay in Amsterdam longer than a week, however, getting a second-hand cycle may be a more cost-efficient option.
2. The essential getup and gear
When on a bike, you should wear comfortable getup, such as sneakers, T-shirt or sweatshirt and tracksuit. According to Ryder Wear, tight-fitting sports apparel is the best clothing for cyclists as it minimizes air resistance during the ride without limiting range of motion. As for rider safety, Amsterdam is very safe, so you will need minimal or no safety gear. Helmets are not a mandatory piece of equipment here – in fact, the Dutch never wear them because traffic is slow and cycling paths are separated from car lanes.
3. Do not multitask as you pedal
Odds are you will see some of the local cyclists pedaling hands-free while eating or browsing through their phones. However experienced a biker you may be, do not copy Dutch cyclists’ no-hands routines: after all, you are in an unfamiliar environment and you should always put safety first. Even with slow Amsterdam traffic, you never know if a child may dash out into the cycling lane – it is up to you to prevent such accidents.
4. Keep your bike under lock and key
Most bike rentals in Amsterdam offer insurance and provide a safety chain with a key along with the bike. It would be a good idea to get bike insurance as thefts happen even in the friendliest of neighborhoods. Likewise, you should always lock your bike when you are not using it, or else someone may pedal off on your rented two-wheeled steed when you are not watching.
5. Watch out for tram rails
Amsterdam streets are crisscrossed with tram rails, so keep your eyes on the road unless you really want to get a few bum sores or fall off the cycle in full sight of complete strangers. When crossing the rails, aim for a sharp angle – many of the rails are exactly as wide as a bike tire, and getting stuck in front of an oncoming tram is fun only in cartoons.
6. When in two minds, get out of the way
The easiest way to blow Dutch temper is to stop your bike in the middle of the cycling lane and whip out your map. Many Amsterdam citizens commute on bikes, and blocking cycle traffic may cause a fellow rider to be late for work. If you are not sure how to get to your destination, get off the bike, get out of the lane and ask pedestrians for directions.
Amsterdam the bicycle capital of the world for a good reason: one of the most bike-friendly cities on Earth, the Dutch capital is a true paradise for avid cyclists driven by wanderlust and love of adventure on the wheels. Bon voyage!