I have never seen more bikes than in Amsterdam. Normal bikes, odd bikes, family bikes, colourful bikes, transport bikes ... Amsterdam is really a cycler's city. But be aware, it seems that the cyclists have their own rules, they cycle everywhere, very fast, don't stop for red lights or pedestrians ...
When you want to cross the street, look twice and let the bikers pass first, otherwise you have the change to get hit or shouted at.
You cannot park your bicycle at any spot.
Most shopkeepers have small signs in their window that they will remove your bike (they don't like to get scratches on the glass or worse).
At the Central Station each week a truckload of wrongly parked bicycles is hauled away.
And even at the Chinese Tempel at the Zeedijk your bicycle is not welcome!
While crossing the street you should be very careful as there are specific lanes for bicycles, between pedestrian walk and road. So, apart from checking if there are cars on the road, don't forget to check if there is any bicycle coming between you and the road.
If you're pedestrian be aware of ciclysts. They could be as dangerous as car drivers. And than if you're driving a car take care as well because there are double signalization, one for motor vehicles and one for bicycles what could be a bit confusing especially if you're not familiar with such traffic regulations.
The picture shows you how not to lock your bike in the Netherlands. Bicycle theft has the highest crime rate in the Netherlands. My bike was stolen 6 times in Leeuwarden, and I only lived there for three years. In Amsterdam it's all the same. The person whose bike is gone on this picture made a huge mistake by only locking the wheel. When using a lock you should attach it to the frame!! Make sure you do this everytime you stall your bike in Amsterdam, or you''ll risk it being stolen and end up by only having a wheel left....
I've read that there are 500,000 bikes in Amsterdam and a million stolen every year. So on average each bike gets taken twice. Hence if you rent a bike make sure you get a good lock and check with the rental shop what their policy is on stolen bikes. (The guy we rented them from said there would be no charge if stolen provided we returned the lock keys?!)
When wandering around the streets, remember that there are 3 lanes: Vehicles, Pedesrians, AND cycles. Its easy to wander into the cycle lane, so spacious, but you'll get off pretty quickly too, cyclists won't make to much of an effort to get out of your way!
We spent four days in Amsterdam and never managed to work out whether any of the rules of the road applied to bicycles. They do not stop at pedestrian crossings, even if cars have stopped. They do not stop at red traffic lights, even if cars have stopped. Cyclists will travel the wrong way down a bicycle lane and through pedestrianised areas. We even saw one cyclist pull out in front of a moving van, even though it had right of way - she wasn't too badly hurt, fortunately.
Please be careful, as you won't hear them coming. Make sure you look EVERYWHERE before you step out on to the road, and don't assume that because the little green man is telling you to cross, that it is safe to do so.
Amsterdam is full of bicycles. I have never seen so many bicycles in my life. Cycle riders are dangerous too. Make sure you do not stand on a cycle way. I learn't the hard way lol.
Also, it seems that if you do ride a cycle, make sure you take the most crappiest one into town because locking it up will not stop the theives from pinching the parts they like.
You can see the bicyccles that are coming toward you. It is the ones that are behind you that you forget you need to share the space that can ruin your day when hit. Many, many bikes traverse around and are a common day lifestyle. There are marked lanes for the bikes to use and stay off of them. They have the right to bump you out. On the other hand, some are going so fast, they must scare themselves, let alone me when passing by. If some unexpected event occurs, they could not react fast enough to deter.
Amsterdam is a city of bicycles! And it makes perfect sense to cycle around. The city is compact enough, the streets and bridges are narrow, and like all big cities, parking is expensive and difficult to come by. Any visitor to this city should know that bicycles ALWAYS have the right of way. If you're not careful you will be hit. Even if you are careful, you'll probably still have a run in with a cyclist. Even if you think you are walking on the sidewalk, you're probably not. There are more bike lanes than sidewalks. Keep your ears open for the little bell--and move out of the way!
Much is written on the Dutch and their bicycles, however the danger of walking in bike paths needs to be etched in your brain. Walking in a bike path can be dangerous!
While it may appear they are trying to run you down, in truth the bike path is treated the same as a street is for a car. Most of these bikes are heavy metal, and going at a fair amount of speed. Most do keep an eye out for tourists who don’t know better, however one simple distraction, and you could have a major collision.
While not always true, most paths will be red and/or have painted lines. When there is a canal, bike path, street and sidewalk together, they will be in that order. That nice path next to the water is for the bike traffic not foot.
When we decided to go to see Amsterdam, we wanted to explore it by bicycles. As we were traveling around Europe, not just Netherlands, we took our own.....well. Amsterdam is perfect place for cycling, but we didn't think about some extra precausions. And so my bicycle was stolen. How is it possible in a city where everyone has one??? It was a matter of few minutes, we have fastened bicycles together with quite thick lock, but it wasn't enough. As we've checked later every bicycle in town was fastened with two locks in a back and front wheel, even the worst ones.... We talked with others and we found out that it is usually the Junkies that steal cycles to get money for drugs. Bicycles are stolen everyday, but relevantly you can easily buy a new one, as they say.....So watch your bike while you are visiting Amsterdam.
I think I've mentioned it already on the "Things To Do" but am reiterating here again. I almost got hit by a bicycle, no, bicycles. I was crossing the street and I didn't know that the lane just along the side of the road is dedicated for bicycle -- can't blame - my first time in the city!
So be careful in crossing the road, look at your left and right and listen to the buzzing of bicycles, two things, either you get hit or if you'll endure some swearing (shouting with bad words or the famous f**k-off!).
Remember --- there are pedestrian lanes and there are bicycle lanes.
This is a guote from my guidebook about Amsterdam. I think I read it on the plane to Holland and it comes from the part about using bicycles: 'It is necessary ALWAYS to put a pedlock on the bike. Theft is a real plague in Amsterdam. You can often see parts of bicycles attached with chains to metal fences or poles...' The picture I present here could be a perfect illustration to this 'word of warning', as it was titled in the guidebook.