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Biking in Amsterdam

Updated on September 28, 2017
Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

A well used bike in Amsterdam!
A well used bike in Amsterdam! | Source

Bicycles Are a Main Form of Transporation in Amsterdam


On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I found myself mesmerized by the number of and types of bikes there are in Amsterdam. There are more than 600,000 bikes in Amsterdam. This means there are almost as many bikes as there are people. The estimated population of Amsterdam is currently 780,559. One of the reasons biking is so popular in Amsterdam is because there are virtually no hills within the city, so it is not a chore to ride around.

Old Bikes Are the Most Popular Bikes

People bike to work and leave their bikes against a fence across the street, or on one of the many bike racks around the city. People even think nothing of biking at night in Amsterdam and most bikes have lights. People bike to do errands, they ride them to work, and they ride them to meet friends for a night on the town. I was there in December, and people were riding bikes in the snow, both in the day and at night. No one wears bike helmets. But most do use some form of bike lock. And the most surprising thing to me is that they are not new and shiny like in the U.S. Most are old and well used. By talking with some of the people that work in restaurants in Amsterdam, I found out that the reason most of the bikes are old is that the new ones get stolen much more often. Since there are no hills in Amsterdam, the ten to twenty-speed bikes that are popular in the United States are not necessary for Amsterdam. Any bicycle with two wheels and handlebars will do.

It is obvious that people's bikes are just part of their everyday lives, and not anything to show off. There are bikes of all colors and with various attachments to them. Some have carts on the front to carry cargo or children. Some have a seat on the front for children. Some have a seat on the back for children. Some have seats both front and back for families with more than one child. I didn’t see many children’s bikes because it seems most are transported places on the bikes belonging to their parents. And there are also baskets and milk crates attached to many of the bikes to help transports the riders worldly possessions, or maybe just some groceries after work.


Pedestrians Beware

There are bike racks everywhere as well. And some bike racks are so long, they look like bike parking lots, alongside automobile parking areas in city neighborhoods. One of the most surprising things about having this many bikes and bike riders is that there aren’t more accidents. Each bike has a small bell attached to it. There are bike paths next to all of the sidewalks in the city of Amsterdam. The bike lanes are in between the pedestrian sidewalks and the main roads for automobiles. They are about 1 inch lower than the pedestrian sidewalks and so many pedestrians, especially tourists, don't even notice the bike lanes are there. If pedestrians get in the way, they will hear a small little bike bell urging them to move, which is quite different from angry car drivers shouting and making obscene gestures that I often see in the United States. When renting a bike, there are many types available to choose from. Tourists can rent a single bike, with three speeds or no speeds, which of course you don’t need because there aren’t hills in the city. There are also tandem bikes for two adults, tandem bikes with a lower seat with pedals in front for an adult and a child, cargo bikes, children’s bikes, and even an electric bike!

Because I have become so fascinated with the bikes of Amsterdam, I found myself taking pictures of many more bikes than most tourists would. I am sharing them with you because I find the idea of the bicycle as the main form of transportation in a city quite novel, and quite unforgettable as well.

A bike parking area right next to a car parking area in a residential neighborhood.
A bike parking area right next to a car parking area in a residential neighborhood. | Source
A brick sidewalk to the left for pedestrians, a bike lane, and the main street to the right.
A brick sidewalk to the left for pedestrians, a bike lane, and the main street to the right. | Source
It is quite common to bike to dinner and park your bike outside the restaurant.
It is quite common to bike to dinner and park your bike outside the restaurant. | Source
This is the strangest bike rack I have ever seen, but they are common in Amsterdam!
This is the strangest bike rack I have ever seen, but they are common in Amsterdam! | Source
The seat is behind this cart used to carry children.
The seat is behind this cart used to carry children. | Source
Wooden crates are often used to carry things like groceries, purses, and even dogs!
Wooden crates are often used to carry things like groceries, purses, and even dogs! | Source
Parking bikes on a canal bridge is very common.
Parking bikes on a canal bridge is very common. | Source
Bikes are used for recreation sometimes. Here's bicyclists riding through the famous Vondel Park. They have a nicer bike path than the pedestrians. There's is the muddy path on the right!
Bikes are used for recreation sometimes. Here's bicyclists riding through the famous Vondel Park. They have a nicer bike path than the pedestrians. There's is the muddy path on the right! | Source
This looks like the family bike rack. There's a Dad's bike, a mom's bike and 2 kids bikes all on this one rack in a residential area.
This looks like the family bike rack. There's a Dad's bike, a mom's bike and 2 kids bikes all on this one rack in a residential area. | Source
This bike owner rode to the ice skating rink!
This bike owner rode to the ice skating rink! | Source

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    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      wetnosedogs,

      Yes I know. Everyone seems to be so proud of their bikes with 10 speeds or more. I found out that they prefer riding the older bikes for transportation around here because there's less of a chance it will get stolen. makes sense to me!

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 

      6 years ago from Alabama

      Wow, that has to be something to see.

      I don't like the newer bikes. I ride the old type. Interesting that you see both types of bikes. Around here, it is very hard to see a bike rider on the older bike.

    • Kenja profile image

      Ken Taub 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      It's good to be in the MOUNTAIN bike business, especially if you're selling to Colorado, NM, Arizona, Utah, California and most of the West...

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Kenja,

      Thanks for your comment. really? Colorado??? I am shocked because I think of Colorado as having a lot of mountains, not flat like Amsterdam. But hey, if Coloradoins ( new word for me) can do it, more power to them. I have a new found respect for the bicyclists of Colorado!

    • Kenja profile image

      Ken Taub 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      They're actually nice to get on and ride too! You know who also loves bicycles? That would be Coloradoins. You know which state has the slimmest, most fit people? That would be the very same Colorado.

      Pedal on Holland! Roll on, Colorado! Go Karen! Nice hub. Ken

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      hawaiianodysseus,

      Yes, I don't see many heavy Dutch people here, which is surprising considering the food we have had is quite fattening. BUT, there is a lot of cigarette smoking going on here. I am really shocked by the amount of people I see smoking. For a country who seems to be heavily into being "green" I am really surprised by the number of smokers. I wonder how many will get lung disease but be in good shape physically otherwise?

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Karen, I love hubs that have a lot of media to complement the wonderful writing, and this was certainly one of them.

      By doing all that biking, the people of Amsterdam (and probably all of the Netherlands) must be in topnotch physical condition, not just because of the great exercise, but also because they're inhaling less petroleum-based toxins than us Americans.

      What a lovely city! Thanks for sharing, Karen!

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      shiningirisheyes,

      Thanks for reading this second hub too. As you can see, I have had a lot of time on my hands while my husband has been teaching these last 3 days! ha ha! He thinks I am crazy because of all the bike pics I have been taking so I decided to put the pics to good use. The next 2 days he is off and we will be sightseeing together, so I probably won't be taking anymore bike pictures but hopefully will still get some good pics. Thanks for reading both hubs! It is inspiring here!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      6 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Karen - Your trip seems to have been a truly glorious one. I just finished reviewing your hub regarding the beautiful walk in the snow. This is a wonderful addition to bringing us into your adventure.

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