How to: Biking in Amsterdam

One of the first things that probably comes to mind when you think of Amsterdam are bikes. And you’d be right…there are literally more bikes here than there are people. Which makes bike shopping, easy. Everything else, a little more hectic.

The great thing about biking in Amsterdam, though, is that the city is built for it. The bike infrastructure is amazing. Bicyclists here have their own (full sized) lanes, traffic lights, and absolutely the right of way. Also, the Dutch are known for being very direct. So, if you mess up, you’ll know.

So, if you find yourself in Amsterdam, here are some tips to make sure you do it right:

  1. Get out of the way. Bikes are treated like cars. Move to the right if you’re slow and to the left to pass. Don’t worry-unlike bike lanes in the US you can comfortably fit 3 cyclists in one lane.
  2. We all hate that car in front of us who breaks out of nowhere to make a turn. Bikes too. Just make sure you keep your arm down or it could be hit by a passing cyclist.
  3. Look left, right, up, down, forwards, and behind you. Seriously. Bikes come out of thin air. So if you’re biking or walking, be alert or you’ll get hit.
  4. Keep an eye out for tram rails. If your wheels get stuck in one you’ll have a lovely date with the ground.
  5. The bell. Use when appropriate (don’t be annoying) and move over if you hear it.
  6. Be confident. Bikes rule the streets here. So if you find yourself in a tricky situation just go for it and you’ll be okay.


I am a senior at UMD study abroad at the University of Amsterdam in Amsterdam, the Netherlands for the fall semester. I am originally from southern California but have been living on the east coast for the past seven years. I double major in International Business and Ops Management and Business Analytics.

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