Riding a bicycle like an un-Dutchable – Part 2

So you thought riding a bicycle in Netherlands was already complicated? I bring you round 2! Of amazing things to remember when riding a bicycle there

1)   Brakes

IMG_3271(Space for hand brakes? where?)

Not all bicycles have hand brakes in Netherlands. I honestly found out the wrong way. I had just bought my second second hand bike (most people in Netherlands have two). I would usually cycle my first one to Station Zuid, park, train it to Nijmegen then… I needed another bike. Hence my buying a second bike. Anyways, point is, I bring this bike out, cycle up to the office and at the only traffic light along the way I realized… I couldn’t stop. I panicked, noticed there were no hand brakes, cursed the man who sold it to me, and then jumped off the bike. I only found out later most Dutch bikes have back pedal brakes. Which means it brakes when you paddle backwards. Now if only someone had told me this right before the red light.

2)   Lights

DSC_0104(In a road block, these guys would have gotten fined!)

There are a few rules that govern riding a bike in Netherlands. Not a lot. In general, bikes have right of way most of the time, and typically in a fight between a bike and a pedestrian, a bike would find a way to go around the pedestrian to win. But the one rule that all cyclist have to follow is, that they need two lights on their bicycles when its dark. One in the front and one in the back. It’s quite interesting actually, I found out because on one ride back, I was cycling when a bunch of people in front of me moved to the side, got off their bikes and started walking their bikes. I wondered what was going on. I kept on cycling, and in front I noticed it, a POLICE ROAD BLOCK. They were stopping all the bicycles without lights and giving them tickets!! It was insane! Like watching a Malaysian road block wasn’t interesting enough. You can be fined 30 Euros for each light you don’t have (one behind, one in front). As for everyone walking their bike? The rule is, you need lights when cycling. Everything else is fine. =)

3)   Parking

When parking your bike, make sure you have it locked properly. Through the front tire, and through the body of the bike. Otherwise

  • Its easier to have someone steal your front tyre then your back
  • Drunken people tend to play a game of which bicycle can you flip into the canal? It might be a funny game to play… except when its your bike that has disappeared

IMG00118-20120125-1241(Caught the cleaning of the canals in Amsterdam. Look at all those bikes that got flipped!)

Happy cycling!