Amsterdam was one of the last stops during our Euro trip and when we arrived I couldn’t believe the amount of bikes that were all over the city. I’ve seen bikes in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver but this was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
Bikes in Amsterdam
With hundreds of bikes on the road at one time, you would expect complete chaos but in Amsterdam, everything runs pretty smoothly. One of the things that makes all these bikes possible is the design of their bike lanes. Even though the European roads are narrow, the bike lanes are quite sophisticated; wide enough for 2 bikes to ride side-by-side and there are even streetlights designated solely for cyclists. Slow cyclists keep to the right and pass on your left. The rules of the road apply here and all is organized.
With the abundance of bikes in Amsterdam there has to be a place to store them right? The answer is everywhere: bikes on top of bikes, beside bikes, with bikes attached. The biggest collection of bikes is at the main train terminal where a multilevel parking structure specifically for bikes is located. In fact, so many bikes are parked on the side of the canals and fall into the water that a crew of city workers has a full-time job on a boat picking up bikes out of the water year-round!
You’ll hear locals say that the most dangerous thing in Amsterdam is a tourist on a bike. So what do you think we were crazy enough to do? We rented a couple of bikes. When in Rome, right? But we were smart enough to ride way outside of the city and had a great time away from the crowded roads.
What’s interesting and different from back home in Canada is that motorized scooters are also riding in the bike lanes. So, if riding in Amsterdam’s abundant bike lanes wasn’t nerve-racking enough, we had motorized scooters whipping past us at almost twice the speed, inches away, causing panic we really didn’t need.
Even being a pedestrian is dangerous in Amsterdam. Before crossing the street, looking out not just for cars but for passing bikes in the bike lanes is crucial because sometimes their streetlights are not the same as the cars and they won’t stop for no tourist. We even saw a man get T-boned by a cyclist when he tried to cross the road without looking. Let’s just say an argument ensued after.
So if you’re into bike culture or fascinated by what Amsterdam has done to allow cyclists to flourish, don’t take my word for it. Go there, rent a bike and experience the mayhem for yourself!