Cycling in the Netherlands, Amsterdam

Cycling in the Netherlands…, is it safe?

The Netherlands is flat. And with flat I mean that the highest hill is only 323 meters or 1060 feet. That makes it very easy to move around on a bicycle. In the city it is also faster to get to your destination. Traffic especially in rush hour can be horrible. In big cities bicyclists are 10% faster than cars, in smaller cities 5% faster. Under 3km (1,86 miles) a bicycle is faster and on longer distances you are faster by car. Riding a bicycle provides a lot of freedom. With a bicycle it is easier to find a parking space and a lot cheaper as well. Good reasons why cycling in the Netherlands is so popular!

Transportation and recreation

For these reasons a lot of people choose the bicycle as way to go to work or school (47%). Other reasons are for (grocery) shopping (12%) or for recreational purposes (41%).

For cycling in the Netherlands different bicycles are used for transportation or recreation. Basic, old rusty bicycles are used for transportation. These normally are parked outside in the rain in public areas and are likely to get stolen. Even with 3 locks! A decent working second hand bicycle you can already buy for €50-€80. You probably will spend more on locks!

Fancier bikes, like race- mountain bikes, electric bikes, or with multiple gears are often used for recreational purposes. If you don’t have to you don’t park these on the streets or at train stations and you keep them stored in your shed or in your house.

Is cycling safe in the Netherlands?

Watch out for bicycles!

Unwritten rules for cycling in the Netherlands

Bicyclists feel like they are king of the road. And they are not gonna stop for you if you are in their way. So take these precautions in mind:

  • Bicycle lanes are often painted red with a white bicycle symbol painted on it. And a blue traffic sign with a white bicycle indicates this is a bicycle lane. NEVER walk on a bicycle lane! Stay on the footpaths next to them.
  • Cross the streets at a pedestrian crossings, preferably the ones with traffic lights. When crossing a street without a pedestrian crossing, look left-right-left to see if bicycles or other traffic is coming.
  • Do not expect bicyclist to give you way. They rarely do. Nor do they signal which direction they are turning.
  • When you hear a bell ringing or shouting, make sure you are on a footpath and not standing on a bicycle lane.
Cycling in the busy city

Is it safe to ride a bicycle in The Netherlands?

Yes! The Netherlands is the safest place to ride a bicycle. Because there are so many people riding bicycles, there is a good, fairly safe infrastructure with bicycle- lanes, -tunnels, – lights etc. Also car drivers are used and very aware of bicycle traffic and take caution. In the Netherlands it is not obligated to wear a helmet.

Do realize that Dutch people learn to ride a bicycle when they are around 3-5 years old and often ride a bicycle on a daily or weekly basis. They don’t keep their hands on the steering wheel, have kids on front and back of the bicycle, grocery bags dangling on the steer and even text or call (even though that is forbidden), all while riding their bicycle.

Would you like to go cycling in the Netherlands? If you are not that skilled, please wear protection such as a helmet when renting a bicycle.

Dutch Bicycle Facts

  • There are 22,9 million bicycles in The Netherlands (2019). That’s an average of 1.3 bicycle per person. 84% of the Dutch owns a bicycle.
  • There are 37.000 km (22.990 miles) of bicycle paths and 4700 km (2920 miles) of bicycle lanes in The Netherlands.
  • Average speed is 15-18 km (9-11 miles) per hour.
  • Estimated is that about 500.000 bicycles get stolen each year.
  • Average distance covered per person daily is 2,5 km (1.6 miles) per day and 900 km (560 miles) yearly.

Would you like to try Cycling in the Netherlands? Get in touch with us!