Cycling in Amsterdam. The Netherlands. 2009

Anyone who does a little cycling has heard about Amsterdam being where the bicycle rules.

She is travelling faster than you think

Yep, it’s true there are cycle paths next to almost all of the roads and it looks like about at least half of the population is on their bikes. For those of you who have been living under a rock all their lives, Amsterdam is a very flat place. As a matter of fact the only place you will see a rise is when you go over one of the many little bridges that cross the ubiquitous canals.

Due to the flat nature of the city, most people in Amsterdam ride single speed bicycles with back-pedal brakes. Most of the bikes in

Amsterdam are clunky, heavy old fashioned heavy affairs.

There are even special traffic signals for bikes

It would seem that the Dutch aren’t caught up in the need to have the latest and greatest in cycling, unlike many of the clots back home that spent thousands of dollars to have top of the range mountain bikes that they ride once a month around the city. The Dutch bike is an everyday workhorse that is ridden in all weather and left chained up outside all the time. The Dutch actually ride as a method of transportation and not as some kind of shallow statement of consumption.

Interestingly, the bicycle paths are shared with motor-scooters.

Helmets just mess up your hair and try making a telephone call wearing one.

From what I could tell, the motor-scooters didn’t need to be registered and could be driven by children (who looked at least) as young as 12 or 13, without helmets.

On the whole, the Dutch are a tall healthy lot and when you come to think of it, they’ve managed to retain their culture and national identity over the centuries after being attacked by just about everybody in Europe. They ain’t no wimps. It’s easy to tell the difference between the locals and foreigners when they are on bikes. The Dutch lope along effortlessly at quite a clip, dodging the tourists wobbling down the road at half the speed. I guess riding single speed bikes for years toughens one up and makes you fit. 

Just loping along


It’s a good thing that the Dutch get so much exercise, as their food is high in carbohydrates ands saturated fats.

She is travelling faster than you think

One of the things that begins to pall when travelling to all these touristy places is that there is always someone with their camera out taking pictures blocking the way. At first, you wait for people to take their shot, but after a while it starts to get annoying, waiting for so many people as they hold up the traffic on the streets. It’s not surprising, and to me completely understandable, that many people in Amsterdam are totally over tourists clogging up their streets and make no effort to to cater to them and their need to be photographed next to everything.

What is it with some people and their need to be photographed in front of things?

It’s true, I’m one of those annoying people taking the photos, and in my defense, I try not to get in the way.

6 thoughts on “Cycling in Amsterdam. The Netherlands. 2009”

  1. I love those old bicycles! And, flat land to bike in. I never did get the hang of multiple speeds. I was still walking the bike up the hill.

    Just read a book about Amsterdam and the cultural schism going on with the immigrant population and the traditionally culturally friendly Amsterdam. The bikes may be clunky and old world but they have modern day issues on their streets.

  2. Just think how much smaller the parking lots can be if everyone arrives by bike or scooter, rather than by car. And if the parking lots are smaller, shops and buildings can be closer together, so you don’t have to ride the bike so far. You might even be able to walk!

  3. Pat

    There’s not much point of having more than one gear in much of Holland. It’s not hard to understand why the Dutch feel like they’re getting crowed out by other nationalities in their own country. The area we stayed in was like being in arab country, which didn’t make it bad but it wasn’t the Holland than one sees in the postcards.


    You’re dead right of course. The funny thing is there are hardly any places to chain you bike up to in Amsterdam, as just about anything you can chain to, has a bunch of bikes on it already.


    Thanks for the link, great shots and I wish I’d spent more than a few minutes phtographing cyclists. The people of Amsterdam are an interesting lot.

  4. The people I stayed with in Amsterdam said it wasn’t worth having a good bike because it would just get stolen by junkies. There’s some amazing number of bikes that get dredged out of the canals each year too!
    I tried to keep up to my friends as they sped through the city on their bikes: crazy!!!

  5. Planetross

    Junkies have to the most selfish people in the world. I don’t think trying to keep up with the Dutch on a bicycle would be much fun, especially after going to one of “those” coffee shops.

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