A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Cycling in the Netherlands

If you are going to live in the Netherlands, or even just visiting the Netherlands, you need to know that your main way of transportation will be cycling. Therefore, I want to give some tips for international students about cycling in the Netherlands in this blog.

  1. Buy a second-hand bicycle or rent a bike

Do not go extravagant with your bike, especially if it is going to be your first bike ever. A second-hand bike will be more than enough for you. Since the bike market is very active anywhere in the Netherlands, you can find a bike for sale anytime of the year via different platforms such as Facebook Marketplace. Also, you can buy your bike during the Orientation Week (this may not be the case for Summer OWL 2020 though!)

You may benefit from rental options offered by companies like EasyFiets and Swapfiets as well. For your travels within the Netherlands, for example when you visit Amsterdam, you can choose rental options offered by the OV-fiets.

  1. Obey the traffic rules

First things first! Switch your lights on during the night time. Always check your lights before you start biking. Once you start cycling, always be aware of the traffic rules and obey them despite what others do. Always cycle on the bike paths or designated lines for cyclists. Needless to say, avoid biking while drunk or on slippery grounds. To have an overlook on the general cycling rules applies in the Netherlands, you can take a look at this website. Also, you can check some of the things that will get you fined when cycling via this link.  Be aware that the list is not updated! Using your phone while cycling also gets you fined as of July 2019.

  1. Always lock your bike

Unfortunately, bike theft is an issue in the Netherlands. My first bike in the Netherlands was also stolen… In order to make sure your bike is safe, you can attach your bike to a bike stand, railing or lamppost etc. However, make sure that you lock your bike where it is allowed to park bicycles. Otherwise you may get fined or your bike can be taken away by the officials.

  1. Practice first!

Have you ever cycled before? Or the correct question should be: have you ever cycled in the Netherlands before? If not, practice first before cycling in traffic! Until you feel confident, do not cycle in the traffic to avoid any accidents which may cause serious damages for you or others. Also, beware the features of traditional Dutch bicycles such as pedal breaks. Do not cycle in the traffic before your body and mind get used to these features.

I hope these will help you to have an understanding on how cycling in the Netherlands looks like and you will cycle safely with your bike.

Do you have any other suggestions for international students who will cycle for the first time in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments below!


(Special thanks to Mert Özal for the featured image)

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