From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Amsterdam By Bike

The unwritten rules of the city's favored means of transportation.

MOST READ TRAVEL
LifeLabs MegaWarm: The Best Winter Jacket

Fashion

The World’s Warmest Jacket

This deliciously pillowy puffer — made from 87% recycled materials — will keep you...

Wormsloe State Historic Site in Savannah is likely the city’s most iconic spot. It’s home to a dusty path lined by two rows of doleful oak trees.

Destinations

Georgia All Over

Touring the sensory experiences of a state that refuses to be neatly categorized.

The New Name in Thai Hospitality

Destinations

The New Name in Thai Hospitality

With Cape & Kantary, hotelier Tirawan Taechaubol breathes new life into the...

On the Dutch capital’s nearly 250 miles of bike paths, locals don’t hesitate to bare their teeth to the uninitiated or shout them out of the way: “Doorfietsen! Klootzak!” Biking in Amsterdam is not for the weak-willed. “We maneuver, we navigate, we meander,” says Ruth Oldenziel, a professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology who’s working on a history of biking in the Netherlands. “It’s about accelerating at the right moment, anticipating when the red light is coming,” she says. “You see it becoming green and you get your pedal up, so that at the very moment it’s green, you’re out of the gate.”

Learning the rules of Dutch cycling and blending smoothly into the traffic is the surest way to feel the beat of the city.

1. Cyclists in Amsterdam are like pedestrians in New York: They think they always have the right of way, unless cars are rushing through a green light. Red lights are a suggestion at best. Cyclists are welcome to take and cut across any space that’s open to them. Confidence is key.

2. The cyclists interact like cars on the highway: Pass on the left; follow on the right. Use hand signals if someone needs to know, but don’t be gratuitous. This isn’t Copenhagen.

3. They don’t put their feet down, even when balancing in place briefly while waiting for a light to change or more space to become available. Their bikes have pedal brakes, which make graceful pauses easier. So does a bit of core strength.

4. Locking the bike is an art. Not on a bridge. Not in the way of a shop window. Bike thieves are like lions in the wild looking for the slowest gazelle. Make sure your bike is locked just better than the next.

5. The locals will ring their bell at the hint of a mistake. Don’t take this as an invitation to ring your bell whenever you feel like it. It’s the equivalent of someone driving down your street honking—bad style.

Newsletter

Let’s Keep in Touch

Subscribe to our newsletter

You’re no longer on our newsletter list, but you can resubscribe anytime.