Bikes in The Netherlands, about Dutch Bikes

by spirituality

There is no country in the world where biking is so normal as it is in The Netherlands - except China. This is a tribute to Dutch Bikes.

Yes, we really do a lot of bicycling - and we've got the bikes to show for it.

[A reader told me the people of Denmark also do a lot of biking. I looked it up online, and they sure do. More about biking in Denmark. I'm not going to try and decide whether the Dutch or the Danish bike more - suffice to say that within Europe these are the two countries with most bike rides. It's probably not a coincidence that Denmark, like the Netherlands, is very close to the ocean and has very few hills.]

Bicycle rush hour

Nothing on this page can be as clear as this video of bike-rush hour in one of our largest cities: Utrecht.

As the video notes: biking is very safe in the Netherlands, due to biking lanes and bike-friendly regulation, so don't be surprised at the lack of protective gear.

A reader said...

I've been living in the Netherlands for a while and what you say is really true! I still remember staring in awe of all the bikes parked outside my university. And yes, I contribute to the bike rush hour every morning :)

Bike tracks ...

They were working on the road somewhere in my town. This is the tracks of the bikes going through.
Bike tracks ...
Katinka Hesselink

What does your bike need to survive the Netherlands?

Your bike absolutely needs the following - most of these will be standard fixtures on any Dutch Bike:

  • A bike lock, preferably two: one that locks the wheel to the frame. Another to lock your bike to something else - a tree, a lamppost or a fence for instance.
  • a bike-bell. ask for a 'fietsbel' in your local bikeshop. This fixture is mandatory for Dutch bikes. (see the picture for an old-fashioned model)
  • A headlight and a light in at the back of the bike. Again: mandatory (at night anyhow).
  • Both wheels need to have side-reflection. Dutch bikes will have this as a matter of course
  • Red reflector at the back of the bike

FAQ: is it safe for tourists to bike in The Netherlands?

Sure, it's safe for tourists to bike in the Netherlands. Just rent a bike at the train station and you're set. Do remember to lock your bike when you leave it somewhere.

Normal people on bikes. Parents, kids, managers etc.

A little girl on a bike
A little girl...
Katinka Hesse...
Bikes on a street
Bikes on a st...
Katinka Hesse...
More people on bikes
More people o...
Katinka Hesse...
In a suit, on a bike. A normal way of getting to work.
In a suit, on...
Katinka Hesse...
More professional men on bikes
More professi...
Katinka Hesse...
Mom and kids on bike
Mom and kids ...
Katinka Hesse...
Another parent and kids on a bike
Another paren...
Katinka Hesse...
A woman on a bike
A woman on a ...
Katinka Hesse...

The Netherlands - where is it?

Map of Europe, showing the Netherlands in Blue
Map of Europe, showing the Netherlands in Blue
Katinka Hesselink

Bikes on Trains

The usual way to do things is to go with your bike to the train station and park your bike there.

But you can also buy a ticket for your bike and go with your bike on the train. Sometimes there are several bikes in the train - but usually the landing where you can put them is quite empty.

Skirts and bikes

I was asked once if Dutch girls really do bike with short skirts on.

The answer is: yes, we do. It does take some skill though. When I'm in a skirt I will usually reserve one hand to keep it from blowing up. The other is enough to keep me going in the direction I want to.

Still, bikes could be one reason why Dutch women wear pants so much.

A lady on a bike, in a skirt
A lady on a bike, in a skirt
Katinka Hesselink

This woman is still wearing her high heels, her short skirt belonging to her work uniform - on her way home from work.

Nothing inappropriate about it :)

Just an ordinary day in the country: bicycling to a country bar-restaurant and back...
Just an ordinary day in the country: bicycling to a country bar-restaurant and back...
Katinka Hesselink

Bikes and thieves

As you can see, these bikes have bike-bags. It's a bag meant for groceries. It's dorky to have one, but many people do use them regularly.

Personally I have a bike-bag for another reason: it decreases the chances of my bike being stolen.

Everybody in The Netherlands needs a bike. But for poor people like students the cost can be a problem. Also - students live lives in which bikes can very easily be stolen. You know: bikes out on the town on a Friday-night.

So what happens is: these bikes go through a cycle.

1) stolen

2) person no longer has bike, needs one, can't afford a good one

3) buys one off a thief

In order to prevent a bike from getting in this cycle it makes sense to 'disguise' it. Make it look less good than it actually is, for instance. Many students paint their brand-new bikes so that it will be less conspicuous when they're out on the town.

Also - it bears repeating - every bike needs a lock, or two

A reader said...

Believe me its bad. 2 bikes where stolen in 3 month time. I had to buy a lock that's more expensive then my bike!

The first one that got stolen was parked and double locked in front of my home, and I saw the guy cycle of with my bike! Called the police but they could't really help. Plus its not really a priority for them.

My grandmother on an adult tricycle - Do they really call these trikes?
My grandmother on an adult tricycle - Do they really call these trikes?
Katinka Hesselink

When I bike through Leiden with my grandmother, it's on this tricycle. As you can see, it doesn't fall over and we can sit side by side. You can imagine the look on people's faces when they see us. They're always amazed and we get a lot of comments from passers by too.

My grandmother loves riding the bike and it's usually my strength (or lack thereof) that limits the length of our ride. Unlike most people in her retirement home, for my grandmother age and infirmity are no reason to sit still...

I've put this picture here because it fits the topic of bikes in the Netherlands. However, this is a very uncommon bike. I don't think I'd ever seen one like this before I got to ride one with my grandmother.

A reader says...

I haven't been to the Netherlands yet but we rented bikes in Copenhagen once and it was a fun adventure...many other bike riders and lots of bike bells ringing. I didn't see anyone there riding a bike while pulling an empty bike alongside them like in your video...or biking in high the Dutch get bonus points for that.

Bicycle tours in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany

Bicycle Touring Holland: With Excursions Into Neighboring Belgium and Germany

This book provides detailed route descriptions with accompanying route maps for tours in all regions of Holland, which the author describes as the most cycling-friendly country ...

View on Amazon

More about my country

Learn about working women in The Netherlands, our royalty, or relationship with water, some history and a lot more.
Culture, shopping, poetry on the walls, European Dutch old town architecture, fairs and more.

More by me on Wizzley

My pages on Wizzley as well as links to my main online hubs elsewhere.
Updated: 03/06/2016, spirituality
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login

You might also like

Leiden, university town in The Netherlands

Culture, shopping, poetry on the walls, European Dutch old town architecture,...

Little known facts about The Netherlands

Learn about working women in The Netherlands, our royalty, or relationship wi...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...