Amsterdam cyclists are (surprisingly) well behaved

Amsterdam cyclists stick to the rules. Or at least the majority does, according to a newly released survey by the University of Amsterdam commissioned by the Amsterdam city council.

The stereotype of the anarchist Amsterdam fietser can be credited to just six per cent of cyclists, which may come as a surprise considering the prevailing perception of Amsterdam cyclists as reckless.

Rule-breakers in numbers

UvA researcher Marco te Brömmelstroet, who conducted the investigation, found in his study that 87 per cent of cyclists adhered to cycling rules, seven per cent "bent" the rules to their convenience and only six per cent blatantly disobeyed Dutch road law.

Intersection observation

The survey was conducted last February by observing the behaviour of more than 18.000 cyclists at nine of the city’s busiest intersections.

The researchers found that the intersections came under enormous pressure during rush hour. While 87 per cent abided by the rules during these periods, there was another group who took the law into their own hands, cycling across roads, over sidewalks and ignoring red lights.

Tough love

They may obey the rules, however bike riders in the nation's capital are no darlings, according to the study. If a convenient alternative can be found, or cycling infrastructure is insufficient, then cyclists will take matters into their own hands.



Cycling on the pavement because the street is blocked by a stationary delivery van, or veering onto the zebra crossing when bike paths overflow are examples of how cyclists show assertive initiative.

Cyclists forced to disobey?

Alternative media site Joop believes that sometimes cyclists are actually forced to violate road rules, because the city infrastructure policy does not sufficiently provide for them, still giving priority to cars.

According to Joop, the researchers found that the intersections should be adapted more to use by bike riders and pedestrians, seeing as they make up the majority of road users in those areas.

Beatrice Clarke


Beatrice Clarke

Beatrice is a native Melbournian who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. With a background in independent publishing and fashion, Beatrice honed her understanding of Dutch language and culture working...

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