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Cycling in the Netherlands

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Cycling in the Netherlands is the most popular form of daily transport; using a bicycle for your daily needs is fun, convenient and more importantly, (almost) for free! With more than 18 million bicycles in the Netherlands and 1,2 million new ones sold every year, this country is considered a cyclist’s heaven.

Facts about cycling in the Netherlands

  • Cycling for the Dutch is a way of life; it is distributed evenly across all income groups.
  • Rates of cycling do not fall considerably with age.
  • The Netherlands' flat terrain is ideal for average cyclists; short-range routes do not really require a high degree of physical fitness.
  • The quality of bicycle lanes (fietspad) is very high throughout the country.
  • The best season for long-distance cycling is the period from May till September.
  • You can purchase a new bicycle for about 250 to 500 euros or a used one for about 50 to 150 euros.

Cyclists' rights & duties

  • Always use the bicycle lanes.
  • Follow the same rules as motor vehicle drivers and adhere to traffic lights and signs.
  • Signal by putting out your arm when you change direction.
  • Always give right of way to buses, trams and taxis.
  • Accidents are quite rare; most drivers are cyclists too.
  • You are obliged to use safety helmets and wear special cycling outfits only in organised racing competitions.
  • Towing a trailer is permitted.

Bicycle transportation & storage

  • Bicycles can be transferred by plane as checked luggage (20 kilos allowance).
  • Bikes are not allowed on buses and trams.
  • If you want to take your bicycle in the train, you need to buy a special ticket before boarding. 
  • There are designated places for the bicycles; usually at the end of the train.
  • It is not possible to transport bicycles in the train during rush hours (before 9am and between 4.30pm - 6pm). This does not apply to weekends (Saturday and Sunday) and summer period (July and August).
  • You do not need an extra train ticket if your bicycle is packed or folded.
  • You can find bike stands to park your bicycle all over the country.
  • Most (indoor) bicycle parking lots can hold thousands of bicycles.

Notes on cycling in the Netherlands

  • You are expected to keep your bicycle in good condition. However, a fancy bicycle will definitely increase the possibility of theft.
  • Do not cycle in busy areas such as stations or squares.
  • Watch out for tram rails, don't let your wheels get caught!
  • If your bicycle gets stolen, the police will probably do nothing about it. Around 5 percent of all bicycles in the Netherlands are reported stolen every year!
  • Petty crime in the Netherlands is based on bike theft. Ride it or lock it!
  • Use both an ordinary and a u-shaped lock (slot, a factory-installed lock that passes through the rear spokes).
  • Always attach your bike to something immovable and solid such as a tree, fence or pole.
  • If possible lock your bike in a bike stand or at a bicycle parking lot.
  • Placing lights (both headlight and tail-light) on your bicycle is always a wise move. They are cheap, you will not have to worry about police tickets, and you lower the possibility of a car accident during the night.
  • Multiple riders on one bike is not an unusual phenomenon.

English to Dutch cycling dictionary

Here's an English to Dutch cycling dictionary with some of the most common words and terms:

English term Dutch term English term Dutch term
Adjust Afstellen Lights / lighting Licht / verlichting
Attention / caution Attentie / pas op Luggage carrier Bagagedrager
Axle As Maintenance Onderhoud
Barrier Barriere / slagboom Mountain bike Mountainbike
Bell Fietsbel / bel Mudguard / fender Spatbord
Bicycle / bike / pushbike Fiets / rijwiel Narrow Nauw / smal
Bicycle dealer Fietsenwinkel Nearby Vlakbij
Bicycle repairer Fietsenmaker Nut Moer
Border Grens Compulsory Verplicht
Brake Rem Oil Olie
Brake cables Remkabels One-way Eenrichting
Broken Kapot One-way traffic Eenrichtingsverkeer
Bridge Brug Parking facility (Fietsen) Stalling / rijwielstalling
Chain / link Ketting Pedal Pedaal / trapper
Crank Crank Police Politie
Crank axle Trapas Pressure Druk
Crossroad Kruispunt Pump Pomp
Cycling Fietsen Railway Spoorlijn
Cyclist Fietser Rear light Achterlicht
Cycle path / road / track Fietspad Rim Velg
Dangerous Gevaarlijk Road sign Verkeersbord
Dead-end / closed Doodlopend / afgesloten Roadworks Wegwerkzaamheden
Direction Richting Roundabout Rotonde
Distance / length Afstand / lengte Saddle Zadel
Dynamo Dynamo Screw Schroef
Fine (by police) Boete Screwdriver Schoevendraaier
Flat tyre Lekke band Sign Bordje
Forbidden Verboden Slippery Glad
Forest Bos Speedometer Kilometerteller
Fork Voorvork Spokes Spaken
Frame Frame Street Straat
Front light Voorlicht Toll Tol
Gear Versnelling Traffic jam File
Gear level Versnellingshendel Traffic light Verkeerslicht / stoplicht
Grease Vet Tire Buitenband
Handlebars Stuur Tube Binnenband
Handlegrips Handvatten Valve Ventiel
Headlight / front light Koplamp Velocity Snelheid
Highway Snelweg Wheel Wiel
Hub Naaf Wrench Sleutel

Bike rentals

Below's a selection of bike rentals in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities:

Bike rentals in Amsterdam

Bike rentals in other cities

Other useful links about cycling

Video about cycling in the Netherlands

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