Cycling in Amsterdam: 7 Things to Know Before You go
Not only is it difficult to cross the street in Amsterdam without getting almost run over by a cyclist, but actually taking on the roads as one yourself, now that's just asking to get yourself in trouble.
I consider myself a pretty decent cyclist. Back home in Melbourne, I don't own a car – there's really no need if you live inner city – to get around, I usually ride or catch public transport. I also ride a lot with one of my friends who lives close by, and it just so happened that she was my travel bud in Amsterdam. So hiring a bike for the day seemed like the perfect way to explore the beautiful streets of Amsterdam.
Or so we thought...
Riding around Amsterdam is a little harder than you'd expect. I mean, the locals are absolute experts. Thinking about it now, these people have been riding these streets since they learned to walk. So riding around the locals was trialling at times. I definitely came away from the whole experience with a few tips and tricks up my sleeve.
Cycling in Amsterdam: 7 things to know before you go
1. Give way to the right – This might be obvious to some, but not to us Australians! We drive on the left, like the British, so riding in Amsterdam is the opposite, making it a little bit more difficult.
2. Don't hesitate – Make a decision, and go with it. If you hesitate, you'll likely make a local angry, confuse someone or cause an accident. Having said that, make sure you've got your wits about you.
3. Follow the rules – Although you might see locals doing what they want, follow the rules and you'll be safe. Don't run red lights, don't do a u-turn in the middle of a busy street, stick to the rules and you'll survive to tell the tale.
4. Watch out for tram tracks – This is an obvious one for me, coming from Melbourne, a city full of trams and bikes. If you're not used to tram tracks, you have to be very careful around them. As silly as it sounds, tram tracks are about the same size as a bike tire, making them a very easy way to get your tire caught and you flying across the road into oncoming traffic. I've known one-too-many friends who've had pretty hectic bike accidents because their wheel got caught in a tram line. Take on tram tracks at a sharp angle, and you'll be fine.
5. Signal – Even if you think no one is around. Let other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians know where you're going. If you're making a right-hand turn, give everyone around you a long and obvious hand gesture.
6. Lock up your bike – As safe as Amsterdam is, people steal stuff. Lock it up.
7. Stay out of the way – Be totally aware of your surroundings, always. Make room for other cyclists, don't come to a halt in the middle of a bike lane, keep to the right so others can overtake, and try to keep up.
Have you ever hired a bike in Amsterdam? Or would you give it a go?