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.
If you live in a country where bikes aren’t used much as a transport you have to beware here. There are thousands and they don’t ride them slowly. When you least expect they appeare. It takes about one or two days to get used to it, then you see it normal (if you have survived)
No, this number is not the amount of bicycles that go by any choosen place in Amsterdam, it's the amount of bicycles that get stolen every year! So, when you rent a bike or drive your own through town, take care that you have an appropriate lock and lock the bike together with a lanternpost, trafficsignpool or a fence on one of the thousand bridges in town. There are enough students that have bikes that cost less then the lock they bought.
Most of the smaller interconnecting streets are dedicated to bicycles! Please walk on the sidewalks.
One more warning: Nowadays cyclist will sometimes be (very) busy with their cell-phones, texting, whatsapping, etc.). Don't expect them to be very watchful.
Amsterdam is a very flat, compact city so cycling is a very popuular mode of transport, much more so than in most other cities.
The cyclists have right of way and, of course, their vehicles are silent - so they can come upon you without any warning.
Be aware at all times when walking that you must be alert for the cyclists. An accident will ruin your holiday.
Amsterdam is a pretty safe place - bicycle theft is the main crime (bad enough, but not a particular concern to most visitors). Take normal care with regard to your valuables, as you would in any major city in the world, and you'll be fine.
The Red Light District is certainly no less safe than other places in Amsterdam: it is in the sex industry's interest to make sure tourists don't go home with a nasty experience. Nevertheless, if you're a real prude or a very nervous type, why go there ? there is so much else to see and do.
Only soft drugs are legal. Usage of harder stuff in itself will not be prosecuted, but the trade around it (the supply side) is definitely illegal.
There are many cyclists in Amsterdam and most have a very special way of cicling. They only advice to pedestrian ringing the bell and expect everyone to deviate from its path, but rarely stop. Always try to walk on the sidewalk for pedestrians and pay attention when crossing the streets as the trams and cyclists seem to come from everywhere.
Hay muchos ciclistas en Ámsterdam y la mayoría tienen una forma muy especial de andar. Ellos únicamente se anuncian con sus campanas y esperan que todos se aparten de su camino, pero pocas veces se detienen. Procura siempre caminar en la acera para peatones y presta mucha atención al cruzar las calles pues los tranvías y ciclistas parecen venir de todos lados.
If you hv rented a bicycle.. make sure you have a lock and key to go with it.. Last heard picking(a euphemism for stealing) of cycles is becoming more common these days. And if you are not able to return the cycle then needless to say you are in deep *** wth fines and penalty payments
If you are walking, dont stand on the bike paths or they will literally run into you, they will ring and ring the bell but they do never stop and..it is your fault.
If you are biking, beware of people (and do stop, as you are not dutch), beware of cars (they behave exactly as bikers with walkers) and take care of tram rails, it is easy to fall, particularly if if it is wet.
I'm a local and I ride my bike daily through the Amsterdam City Center, and I have some tips for tourists and out-of-towners:
A) Unlike most cities, Amsterdam has dedicated bicycle paths that are easily identifiable by the bicycle painted on the road surface. The bicycle paths are for cyclists only! Walking on the bicycle paths marks you instantly as a [stupid] tourist.
B) Amsterdam has a lot of one-way streets, but most of them are only one-way for cars [and sometimes motorcycles], which means that you still have to look BOTH ways when crossing a one-way street in Amsterdam, because bicycles can come from BOTH sides.
C) Amsterdam has laws that protect the weaker traffic participants, so in an accident between a motorized vehicle and a bicycle, the motorized vehicle gets all the blame, unless they can proof that the cyclist disregarded all the rules. This makes driving a vehicle in Amsterdam incredibly risky, because a bicycle can come from any direction and you'll be blamed for any accidents, even when they're not your fault. By the way, a testimony by your passengers is often regarded immaterial by the police.
D) If you're staying in Amsterdam for several days, or if you visit Amsterdam regularly, don't rent a bike. Yellowbikes yellow frames and MacBikes red frames immediately mark you as a tourist. Instead, go to a bicycle shop and ask for a secondhand bicycle. There are loads for sale, ranging from 25-150 euros, depending on the type [regular, ATB, racing] and amount of gears. Don't choose a bicycle with more than three gears - Amsterdam is mostly flat, so you won't need more than three to cruise comfortably. Don't buy a bicycle on the street, they're most likely stolen and if you get caught you're not only perpetuating bicycle theft, but the bike will be impounded by the police and you will get a steep fine.
E) If you ride a bicycle in Amsterdam, keep to the right. Don't weave all over the road like a drunken monkey. If you want to gawk at something, don't do it while riding. And get yourself a heavy padlock and a length of industrial cable so you can lock your bike to lampposts and bridge railings. Make sure your cable never (accidentally) ties up another bicycle, because the police will cut your chain/cable and impound your bicycle.
F) Don't ride on the sidewalks. Yes, I know you will see some cyclists ride the sidewalk, but it is prohibited and the police will fine you if they catch you. To talk your way out of a ticket, you have to speak fluent Dutch and be very persuasive. So keep to the bicycle paths, or if they are absent, keep to the utmost right on the main roads.
G) Be extremely wary of mopeds! Most mopeds and scooters ride as irresponsible as cyclists, only faster. And since they're heavier than a bike, the crashes often result in more damage.
The bikes are sometimes not in a good shape. This might not show if you are not carefull enough.
I was on a bike for one day and the other day, my right arm was aching a lot. I was told that obviously, the wheel was juuust not in place and I was struggling to keep it straight the whole day :((
It is very easy to fall complacent strolling the wonderful canals and squares of Amsterdam. You MUST always be aware of bicyclists all around you at all times. There is often NO margin of error as they tear through the streets endangering pedestrians.
Just wanted to warn you guys to stay out of the bike lanes in Amsterdam. They're brutal. I saw a guy in a bike purposely run over a pedestrian for walking in the lane and then chewed him out for 10 minutes.
One must be constantly cautious with those crazy Dutch bike riders. I almost got hit by them several times in just a few hours, I wonder what the death rates are... they go *very fast* where people are walking, in narrow streets or sidewalks, seemingly not at all worried that they might easily hurt someone or fall in a channel or DIE!!
No this is true! If you are cycler in Amsterdam, you are on top of the foodchain, well.. except for Trams, those stand just a little bit above the cyclers.
This means for you pedestrian/car driver.. WATCH OUT for cyclers. They cycle everywhere and they can, because most people you see on a bike are genuine Dutch people with experience in cycling in these conditions.
If you take the challenge to bike around yourself, don't follow their example.. many tourists end-up getting clogged with their wheels in the tramrails, don't know there are special lanes for cyclers and hit the main road or pavement. If you cycle, make sure to look around, that's the secret on how you can beat red-lights, stop signs, crossing pedestrians and when you are a pro, even a Tram cannot stop you (just make sure trams don't need to stop either, they don't tend to do that, and once it becomes physical the tram always winns).