Can you imagine living in Amsterdam without knowing how to bike? This was me last year! We can all agree that Amsterdam is not a favorable city for learning to bike for beginners. In this blog post, I would like to share my experience of learning how to bike and tips for safe biking in Amsterdam that I learned in the harsh way.
Amsterdam can truly be described as the city of bicycles. It is extremely easy to spot bikes everywhere in the city and the infrastructure for bikes is well-established. People would be surprised once I tell them I did not know how to ride a bike because biking in Amsterdam is essential! There is an unforgettable episode about biking during my first Sefa event. Last August, in my freshman year, I participated in the Sefa Introduction Camp. Basically, we were biking from one park to another and did various physical activities. At that time, I couldn’t ride a bike and I was extremely anxious about it. However, the As Good As New mentors at the Introduction Camp took me on the back of their bike and I was able to enjoy the Introduction Camp fully. I would like to thank my AGAN mentors for giving me a safe bike ride on a rainy day!
This experience was truly heart-warming but also at the same time, I was embarrassed (because literally everyone can bike!) and I stared to think about learning how to bike. First of all, you need an actual bike! In my situation, I got my second-hand bike from my friend, but there are several options that you can look up such as Swapfiets for a bike subscription and Marktplaats for second-hand bikes. After I got my bike, I went out to Vondel park for at least two laps of the whole park every single day for a month. From my experience of teaching myself how to bike, here’s a few tips that I realized from experience.
Tip #1. Learning the cycling rules by heart!
It is super important to learn cycling rules by heart because it is directly related to your safety. You need to keep in mind not only the general rules such as always being on the right side of the road, using hand signals when you are turning, front and back lights; which are mandatory by law, etc., but also the rules from practice, for instance how to turn left at an intersection and cycling at the bike-car share road.
Tip #2. ALWAYS BE CAREFUL WITH THE TRAM LINE!
Personally, I have had many bad experiences with the tram line. Try to avoid biking at the tram line as they can be slippery, and since your wheels can get stuck in the rail grooves, which can lead to major accidents. However, sometimes, you need to bike on the tram line inevitably due to constructions and other traffic conditions. In that case, DO NOT BIKE IN PARALLEL WITH THE TRAM LINE! Make sure to always cross the tram tracks at a perpendicular angle because once you get stuck in the tram line, it can be extremely dangerous since the momentum of the bike can throw you off.
Tip #3. Invest in a good chain locker, raincoat and phone holder for navigation
Amsterdam is a notorious city for bikes getting stolen and heavy rain. In order to prevent your bike from getting stolen, you need to invest in a good and solid chain locker as it is so easy for bikes to get stolen in the city even when they are double locked. Furthermore, there is a high chance that you will bike in the rain. Therefore, I highly recommend you get yourself a good quality raincoat. Lastly, a phone holder is quite useful. As you cannot hold your phone or any other electronic devices while you are biking, it is useful and safe to get a phone holder for navigating.
Tip #4. Don’t fear for falling off the bike!
It is completely understandable to be fearful of falling off the bike, especially when you just started out biking in Amsterdam. However, the more fearful you are, the more dangerous it can be as you get nervous. I would recommend starting biking from a low gear level and increase it as your skills improve. Additionally, hand breaks are useful if you are not used to using pedal brakes.
The final advice that I could give you is: “Take a deep breath, and just go for it!” Once you start biking in Amsterdam, your life here will be more fun and exciting as you will be able to gain a lot of local experiences. Also, don’t forget the bonus that you will also save money on public transport!
Member since September 2020