How to Ride A Bike in Amsterdam
- First, you have to obtain a bike. Many places sell secondhand bikes for a rather decent price. Check online to see if anyone is selling one for cheaper. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of buying one, there are plenty of places where you can rent one. Watch out for people selling stolen bikes, that happens a lot here.
- Now you have a bike. You have your locks right? At least two, and make sure the chain is heavy. Nobody told me why you want them heavy, but I’m assuming it’s for intimidation purposes. That, and it’s probably harder to cut through. Don’t worry about looking silly for putting the big stupid chain around your bike, it makes sure your bike is protected. Think about it like it’s your bikes own little body guard, now you understand why the bigger and more intimidating the better.
- Now, you have a bike and a chain, can you get on your bike? It’s not hard. Step over your bike and sit on it. The next thing you’ll have to do is pedal, do you think you can do that? It’s not so hard once you’ve gotten going, but can be a little tricky until then. Is your foot on the pedal? Good. Make sure you have some leverage before going. Balanced? Push down on the pedal and go. Oh, your foot slipped. That’s okay, it happens to me all the time. Just keep going, keep trying to pedal until you’re moving. Just focus on moving, not on the fact that it took you three tries. You still managed to make it, see? Good job.
- Now that we’ve figured out how to pedal, it’s only fair that you know how to brake. No, you’re right. There are no hand breaks on that bike. Who would be so rude? No, you don’t just keep going and hope that you’ll stop, you have a way of stopping and slowing when you need it. Pedal breaks. They exist purely to irritate you, especially when you have to break last minute and forget how. Stop laughing, it’s a real danger forgetting how to break. It’s actually quite easy. Instead of peddling forwards, just pedal back and the wheels will stop. Not so fast, ease into it.
- Turning sounds easy right? Well, maybe it is. It wasn’t for me. Did you know you have to throw your weight into it? Not too much, that’s how you fall and hurt yourself, but just a little bit of leaning can do a lot. The faster you’re going the easier it is to do this. You’ll learn to like going fast, just be careful because the Dutch are faster. Also, think you can manage to move your hand off the bar? When you’re turning you have to signal that you’re doing such. Try doing this without falling over, I dare you.
- Are you tired yet? This isn’t even the beginning of things you have to know how to do. Did you bring a backpack? Always bring storage. Backpacks are the easiest because they stay on you. Otherwise you’re balancing a bag on your handlebars and that can get tricky. I keep bags on the back of my bike. They remind me of pilot fish, it also carries my things for me. Pack water in your bag, you’re going to get thirsty. Biking may be transport for most people, but I think they forget that it’s exercise as well.
- Good, now that we’re ready to go we should probably learn about traffic. Bikes hold a lot of power here. They have their own roads, traffic signals, and parking areas.The red road on the side of the real road is probably yours. Be careful, motorised bikes use these lanes too. They’re bigger and faster and scarier, so try and stay to the side and out of their way. I don’t think they like us very much. Be careful for faster people on normal bikes too. Try not to get discouraged when you’re going your fastest and two people pass you while having casual conversation. They’ve been doing this since before they could walk. When you reach an intersection, make sure the light with a bike on it is green so you don’t run into traffic. Try to ignore when native bike riders ignore this rule, you’re being safe. Also, buy a light for your bike so people can see when you’re travelling in the dark. It’s also a law.
- Ring your bell! Not only is it fun but it’s a way to let people know that you want to pass them! Actually, you might not do this a lot. Most people here like to go fast, and if you’re not already a rather strong biker, you can probably stick to the side and be fine and slow. Please feel free to use this as much as you want to signal for people walking in your way to move. Also, it’s really fun to ring. I hadn’t even realised before coming here that bike bells had at least seven different possible sounds.
- Hills still exist. The Netherlands is a rather flat country, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is ever at an incline. Some bridges get very steep, and there’s no gears for you to switch and make peddling easier. You can get off and walk your bike if you need to. I promise by the end of this your legs are going to be huge.
- Remember these rules, but forget them just as easily. The only thing you can really do is persevere. There are rules for bikes, but nobody listens to them. The bike culture is a little strange, it seems there are no rules in this city. Stay alert, try and stay upright, and stay safe. Remember where you’re biking, and stay positive. Also, it’s okay to cry a little if you fall off your bike in front of an Albert Heijn.
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Charlie (Charles) McDowell
<p>I am a 20 year old Psychology and Intercultural Studies major escaping the suburbs of Chicago in search of an adventure. I can be found reading or writing most of the time, and love to talk to people. I've been daydreaming of traveling the world since I was a child, and am so excited that the time for that is finally here! Thank you for stopping by, I hope my stories are as helpful to you as these moments were for me.</p>