Right of way? Helmets compulsory? What about insurance? Rules you need to know before cycling in Amsterdam

Copenhagen may be Europe's cycling capital, but Amsterdam is not far behind. With 400 km of cycle paths, the Dutch are fervent bike users, and so are visiting travellers! Getting around Amsterdam by bike couldn't be easier, but be sure to obey the traffic rules.

Bicycles by the Amsterdam canals

Bicycles by the Amsterdam canals

- © Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock

A code that's not so different

If you're a keen cyclist, you'll notice that many of the rules that apply in Amsterdam (and more generally in Holland) also apply in UK and elsewhere. Important to note: you must ride on the right (unless it's a two-way street).

Under no circumstances should you ride on pavements, but rather on cycle paths. When turning, wave your hand to warn cyclists and motorists. And as in the UK, don't use your phone when you're on a bike!

An Amsterdam man on a crosswalk

An Amsterdam man on a crosswalk

- © martinbertrand.fr / Shutterstock

Please note these rules (they differ from those in France)

Although some codes are similar, there are very specific rules in Amsterdam. Over there, helmets are not compulsory for children under the age of 12 (something that may come as a shock). In fact, even the smallest Amstellodammers don't wear one. If you're travelling with children (or not), you can still hire helmets - just ask your rental agency.

bicycle sign in Amsterdam

bicycle sign in Amsterdam

- © Juan Garcia Hinojosa / Shutterstock

In the end, what really makes the difference are the following few rules:

  • Cyclists overtake on the left, and if they wish to overtake another vehicle, they do so on the right.
  • Cyclists may park on the pavement unless prohibited by a sign.
  • There are no priorities between cyclists, no matter which side you're coming from - it's all a question of timing (Dutch cyclists are very fast).
  • Cycle paths are also accessible to scooters, so be careful.

On your bikes, get set, GO!

All you have to do is reserve your bike. It's not that complicated to get around Amsterdam by bike, you just have to follow the rules to stay safe. Before you set off, don't forget to take out optional insurance to cover the cost of theft. Bike theft is commonplace in Amsterdam, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

Stroll through the narrow streets to admire the Dutch Baroque architecture and soak up the Amsterdam atmosphere, stop off at the Van Gogh museum and why not end the day by the canals in the lively Leidseplein district.

Good to know: a deposit will be required when you collect your bike.

Dutch Baroque architecture

Dutch Baroque architecture

- © Adisa / Shutterstock
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by Jude JONES
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