Amsterdam is a famously bike-friendly city where most locals prefer to get around via their own pedal power. But the two-wheeled culture here is about more than just getting around town. We asked travel bloggers The Common Wanderer to cycle us around via photos on their Bikes and Dykes tour, and show us what the locals know when it comes to bike riding in the ‘Dam.
#localsknow that Amsterdam is a city that spins on two wheels. Over 880,000 bicycles rule the roads here — more bikes than people, and four times the number of cars! Bicycles even became a symbol of resistance during WWII as cyclists purposely slowed convoys and refused to give way to Nazi vehicles. Today, 83% of Amsterdammers cycle at least once per week, and two-wheelers have become a proud part of the Dutch DNA. Even King Willem-Alexander cycles regularly with his family!
Cycling might be the best way to get about in Amsterdam, but #localsknow there are still rules to follow. Before we pedal off on our own adventure to discover the bike culture of the city, Sean from Amsterdam Urban Adventures goes through the basics: ride single file, follow the signs, and unlike elsewhere in the world, bikes always have right of way.
Thanks to Amsterdam’s flat landscape, #localsknow you don’t need a fancy mountain bike to see the city sights properly. Instead, do as the Amsterdammers do and grab yourself a Dutch back-pedal ‘omafeints’ or ‘opafeints’ (translated literally into grandma/grandpa bike!) and cruise around comfortably, taking the city in at your own pace. Pedal power!
Amsterdam might be the bicycle capital of the world now, but #localsknow it wasn’t always this way. As car numbers overtook bicycles in the ‘60s (there were even plans to fill in the iconic canals to create roads), there was also a huge rise in fatalities. After 3,000 cyclists were killed by cars in 1971 alone, the community rallied to build adequate cycling infrastructure. Today, over 400 kilometres of bike lanes crisscross the city, full of cyclists, young and old, happily going about their days.
Is it a café? A chill out spot? A heavily polluted dumping ground!? #localsknow all the most interesting places in town! The Café de Ceuvel site to the north of Amsterdam is another example of Dutch people power — a heavily polluted industrial plot being transformed into a totally unique and sustainable development with offices, ateliers, creative workshops, a café, and B&B. It’s also the perfect place to rest your legs (and grab a delicious sweet treat) in the sun after a long morning of cycling.
#localsknow that transporting anything around the city is possible — even by bike. This is a bakfiets (box bike), a traditional Dutch bike built with a small wheelbarrow on the front. They’re ideal for transporting kids, pets, or groceries (and even furniture during a house move), easily customisable, and a very common sight on the streets of Amsterdam.
Experience Amsterdam like a local on a locally led tour of the city!
Bikes and beers are two of our favourite things about Amsterdam. You can find one (or both!) of these on an Urban Adventures Amsterdam tour, but we have plenty more to offer too. Discover Amsterdam’s super cool architecture, savour some delicious classic Amsterdam food, and explore the very best things to do in Amsterdam with a local guide.