Filed under: things to do in amsterdam, top-feature
Go Dutch, Rent a Bike
Amsterdam is a bike-friendly city, not only because it is a compact city but also because of the bike lanes and the absence of elevations. The only hurdles are steep bridges and traffic humps. Should I mention head winds and downpours? Forget about these as bike rides are best in sunny weather.
Four hundred kilometres (250 miles) of bike lanes make the city cycle-perfect and safe. Bike lanes or fietspaden are easy to spot because they are wine-red and run along the right side of the road. They are indicated by a sign of a bike painted on the path or by a blue traffic sign showing a white bike or by the word fietspad. Use the fietspad whenever there is one. If there is no fietspad keep to the right and ride with the traffic. Never ride your bike on the pavement.
Did you know that three thousand bikes are stolen in the Netherlands every day? If all sixteen million Dutch people had a bike, this would mean that each of us has a bike stolen every six years. I suppose I was lucky, only one of mine was stolen. It just proves that statistics are not always right.
Just a word of very important advice, make sure you remember where you parked your bike and lock it. No, ALWAYS lock it, even if you leave it for a short moment to snap a photo. (Bike insurance doesn’t cover bikes that are left with the key inside the lock. If your rented bike is stolen, you will have to show the key. If you own a bike and it is insured, you will have to show your key and the spare one)
Bikes are everywhere. They are chained to monuments, propped against walls and bridge railings are festooned with them. The reason that so many bikes are out on the streets is that they are difficult to manoeuvre up a narrow staircase to the apartment above. Amsterdammers claim lampposts or bridge railings near their homes as theirs and are quite upset when someone else has taken their spot.
Amsterdam biggest fietsenstalling, bike parking place, is next to Centraal Station in front of the Ibis Hotel and has room for 2,500 bikes. I only left my bike here once. It took me a good fifteen minutes to find it back again.
Obey the bike traffic lights which show a red, yellow or green bicycle. Cars and trams have their own lights which may not correspond with the bike lights. When there is no special bike light use the one meant for cars.
* Give right of way to traffic approaching you from the right.
* Trams have always right of way. Cross the tram tracks at a sharp angle otherwise you’ll get stuck, as the rails have the same size as your bike tyre
* Ring your bell when (tourist) pedestrians amble on the bike lane.
* And finally, don’t imitate the Dutch who zigzag through the traffic, give no hand signals and jump the lights. They are most likely more experienced than you. Their biking career started at the age of five or six. It takes a few years to be proficient. Once you have mastered all tricks, you can go Dutch.
If you want to go Dutch, rent a bike. Most city bikes feature one speed and pedal brake. You push the pedals in reverse direction and you will stop. Handbrakes and three speeds is slightly more expensive to rent.
WHAT: Bike City
WHERE: Bloemgracht 68 (map)
RATES: standard bike 4 hours – €10 and 24 hours – €13.50
DEPOSIT: ID card and €50 or an credit card imprint
Also for rent: bikes with hand brakes and gears, children’s helmets and seats, baskets, pump and repair kits
If you rent your bike from Bike City you almost blend with the locals. No tourist signs on the handle bar or the mud guard.
Yellow Bike’s three-hour bike tour shows all Amsterdam’s highlights. The tour includes the harbour, Jordaan quarter, Anne Frank house, Rijksmuseum, Vondel Park, Skinny Bridge, Rembrandt’s house and the Red Light District.
Departure time: 10:30 (2 hours) and 13:30 (3 hours)
Rates: €18.50 or €21.50
MacBike bikes with their flashy logo are all over the city. Little wonder because they have one thousand bikes for rent and several outlets in the city.
MacBike’s daily tour starts at Centraal Station Oost
Departure time: 10:00 and 14:00
Duration: 2 hours
The tour runs along: Dam Square, Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk, Rembrandtplein, Museumplein, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, De Pijp, Heineken Experience, Skinny Bridge, Plantage neighbourhood and Oosterdok, Nemo.
photo credit: personal collection