Cities for Cyclists: Amsterdam, Netherlands
With around 515 km of dedicated bicycle lanes, Amsterdam is perfectly set up for getting around on two wheels.
Almost all the streets in the city are built for bikes in some way, be that a bicycle lane or separated and elevated cycle tracks, which are common on higher-speed streets.
It’s the ideal place to visit if you love to cycle, with bike rental options for those who don’t have their own ride. Simply turn up, rent yourself a bicycle and head out into the city.
Here’s a rundown of how Amsterdam got to be the way it is today, what the rules are and where to visit by bicycle.
The development of such a bicycle-friendly Amsterdam took force in the 1970s, when a number of activist groups were formed to demand more space for bicycles on the city’s roads.
When the Dutch economy began to boom post-war, the number of motorised vehicles on the road grew with it. Traffic casualties were in their thousands, city streets were congested, the bicycle was gradually disappearing.
In 1971 alone, there were over 3,000 traffic casualties, 400 of which were children. This prompted protests by different action groups, all pushing for the re-introduction of bicycle-friendly streets.
Over the years, safer urban planning was gradually implemented and now, more than a quarter of all trips are made by bicycle in the Netherlands, with “bicycle civil servants” appointed in all major Dutch cities to maintain and improve the network of bicycle facilities.
Rules and Infrastructure
The bicycle road rules in Amsterdam are intuitive. Put simply: stay in your lane, typically marked out by lines and bike symbols, adhere to traffic lights and signs, and don’t cycle on footpaths, shopping streets, pavements or motorways.
The city is designed to keep cars and other vehicles driving at low speeds. There are two official speed zones - 30 mph and 18 mph - and to ensure that this is met the streets are textured and narrowed, there are speed bumps and tables, intersections are raised, etc.
Other pieces of infrastructure are designed to be “Shared Spaces” where there is no signage at all and everyone simply slows down and shares the road, giving right of way where necessary. Call it organised chaos.
- Park your bike in a designated bike parking section, rack or indoor parking facility to avoid it being removed to the Bicycle Depot or stolen
- Rush hour, from 8-9am and 5-6pm, can be super busy for cyclists
- Avoid these times if possible! Remember to signal before turning by putting your hand out
- Always use lights on the front and rear of your bicycle after dark. This is required by law
Where to visit on two wheels
So now that you know a little about cycling in Amsterdam, where should you be planning to visit on your bicycle? One great option is to take a cycling tour, but you can also rent your own bicycle and set off under your own steam. If you choose to explore alone, we would recommend the following sites as must-sees on your Amsterdam adventure.
Plantage Middenlaan - hybrid, no-car street
A main street that once held tram tracks, car lanes, bike tracks and sidewalks, Plantage Middenlaan has now been transformed into a beautiful car-free combination of tram tracks on grass, red bike lanes and sidewalks. No cars or four-wheel vehicles, only bicycles, pedestrians and the occasional tram over lush, grassy green.
The Rijksmuseum - the museum you can cycle through
Known for its world-famous masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age, this museum is beautiful to visit both on foot and by bicycle. If you park your bike you can head inside the museum and enjoy its exhibitions and amazing interior design, but you can also take your bike with you and cycle through the heart of the museum via a tunnel carved into the centre of the building. This tunnel remains on the outside so you can’t use it to see the artwork inside, but it is in itself a definite must-see on your Amsterdam bucket list.
Sloterplas - urban beach and sprawling lake
Now a peaceful man-made lake, Sloterplas is built on the side of a natural lake that was reclaimed in the late 17th century for agriculture. On the northeast side of the lake lies Sloterplas Strand, a family-friendly urban beach. Park your bike and head down onto the sand for a walk or a sunbathe.
Bloemenmarkt - floating flower market
This historic flower market located in the Singel river was once a meeting place for traders sailing in from the Amstel, a river in northern Holland, who would sell flowers from their boats. Today, it is a permanent structure floating on the river where visitors can still buy flowers as well as souvenirs. Take your bicycle for a ride along Amsterdam’s many canals and stop by the Bloemenmarkt for a browse.
Ouderkerk aan de Amstel - 12th-century village
For a longer journey, this quaint village just outside of Amsterdam is an idyllic place to visit if you’re looking to escape the city bustle, and it is easy to reach on two wheels, lying just over 10 kilometres from the city. It is well known for its architecture, from historic churches to the imposing De Zwaan windmill.
MODMO in Amsterdam
MODMO currently sells its bicycles to customers in Amsterdam via its ecommerce site - check out the Saigon S and Saigon+ product pages at these links, and please feel free to contact our CS team with any queries at email@example.com