Cycling with the Dutch – How to bike in the Netherlands?

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Are you planning to visit the Netherlands? Then there is quite a lot to consider. But one thing is certain: beware of the bikes!

Bikes are so Dutch!

It was the first thing queen Maxima (she’s originally from Argentina) noticed in the Netherlands.

“A mother on her bike, with two children, carrying the groceries.” Her image of a typical Dutch scene. 

 The Netherlands is the country for bikes. It’s a known fact that there are more bikes than people here. What is normal for us is not normal for people from elsewhere. We all know the tourists on bicycles in Amsterdam, not having a clue what to do. But what is it like for people who come to live here?

Coming here means that you just have to get used to it. Some people love it. But for others it’s a horror.

It’s so much fun to cycle in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a very flat country and the cities aren’t too big. These two things mean that for a long time, the Dutch have been using bikes for a lot of things. Going to work, shopping, seeing friends, going out. The bike is often the way to go!

Some foreigners love this attitude and even miss it when they are at home in their original countries!

Although the weather sometimes isn’t the best. Getting on their bikes in the rain, the Dutch say,

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, there’s unsuitable clothing for the weather.”

I hate biking in the Netherlands

Coming to the Netherlands, you might not be used to bikes being everywhere. And when you come, there’s a good chance you will stay or arrive in Amsterdam. It’s the capital of the Netherlands, and the capital of bike mania!

Amsterdam is known, even by Dutch people, for being chaotic and messy when it comes to bikes and traffic in general.

Dutch people use bikes for transport, to go from one place to another. This means it’s not necessarily used as something relaxing to enjoy the environment. As a result of that, the Dutch tend to cycle pretty fast! If you are not prepared, you might encounter some angry Dutch bikers behind you, ringing their bells aggressively.

No helmet!

Transporting big stuff? Phoning your friend? Writing a text message on your phone? We do all that without a helmet!

You might see some young children wearing a helmet. But still, most people don’t even know the Dutch word for helmet. And, unlike in a lot of other countries, there’s no law saying you should wear one.

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School