Tips for cycling in Amsterdam as a tourist

Cycling in Amsterdam is a must during your stay in this picturesque city, and it’s by far the most popular and most efficient way of moving around.  Despite this, Amsterdam’s bike traffic and narrow streets can be confusing for those not use to it. Here are a few tips to make the most out of your cycling experience through Amsterdam!

Where to ride your bike?

Amsterdam traffic uses the right side of the road, and this includes bikes. It has 400 km of bike lanes and paths make it safe to cycle through the city. They usually run along the right side of the street. Some two-way lanes are on one side only. They have a red coloured tarmac and bike symbols painted on it.

Most of the streets in the historic center and along canals don’t have bike lanes. In this case you ride along with traffic, or stay to the right to let cars and other motorist vehicles pass.

Give Right of Way

Always give right of way to trams from any direction. Listen for the distinctive clanging of their bells.

As for all other vehicles and bikes, give right of way to traffic approaching from the right. Traffic coming from your left should give you the right of way. Taxis and buses often push the limits on this rule, so be cautious and in doubt always let them go first.

Do not always do what locals do

Some local Amsterdam bikers tend to ignore red lights, chat on Whatsapp while riding their bike or, even worse, cycle on the sidewalks. For your safety, and the safety of others, please avoid doing this as well or accept the consequences in case the police will spot you!

Use your hands

Use hand signals when you’re changing lanes or turning. Just point in the direction you want to go. This will let motorists and other bikers know to yield or not to pass you on that side.

When in doubt at intersections, move away from the bike lane and dismount from your bike. Do not suddenly stop in the middle of the bike lane as other bikers won’t have the time to avoid the collision.

Beware of tram rails

Stay off the tram rails at all the time. They’re just the right size to swallow bike tires. If you must cross the tracks, do it at a sharp angle or 45 degrees. Luckily most Amsterdam’s routes are tram free!

Much to my dismay, scooters are always in and out of the bike lanes. They speed by, scaring the you-know-what out of cyclists. When you hear them coming with their piercingly loud exhaust systems, stay to the right and let them by.

Be aware of where you park

Although you might think it is just a bicycle and you can park it wherever you like, you must know that wild free parking is not allowed everywhere in Amsterdam. Especially in the city centre where the space is limited you must make sure that your bike is parked only where allowed. On the pavement is written in green “beyond this point you can only park in the bike stand”

In case you park your bike at locations where it is not allowed, there is a high chance that people of the municipality will take it away. In order you to get it back, you need to go to a bike storage park at the outskirts of Amsterdam and pay a fine.

Always lock your bike

Never leave your bike unlocked, not even for a minute. Bike theft in Amsterdam is a serious problem, but it can be avoided.

Are you stepping quickly in a shop? The ringlock placed on the back wheel will be enough for a few minutes. Are you parking your bike for a longer period than just a few minutes? Lock your bike to a permanent structure like a bike rack, pole or bridge with the heavy chain or U-lock provided.

Also pay attention on how you use the chain lock. Always put the lock through the frame and the front wheel for a regular citybike. In case you rented a cargo bike, place the chain lock through the frame of the bike.

Tips for cycling in Amsterdam