Amsterdam is ruled by bicycles and those who control their flows throughout the city straats. It has even been estimated that there are more bikes in the city than there are residents, up to a million! There are lanes, designating the cyclists’ rights of way, throughout Amsterdam, and the traffic lights are even precarious, at most times, when confronted with the city’s bikers. Cyclists tend to move quickly, and there is a general assumption that they have the right of way, as long as they are somewhat within the lanes that are reserved for them.
Many, if not most Amsterdammers ride second-hand bikes, which are often old “Dutch” (sometimes called “Granny”) bikes that are specifically suited for Amsterdam’s city streets. They differ from regular bikes in several ways; they have only one gear (which won’t be a problem, since Amsterdam is a flat city with no hills) as well as the breaks, which are applied by reverse cycling. Reverse cycling can confuse foreign bikers, but after a while it becomes an indispensable factor of your way through the city.
In Amsterdam, one of the reasons second-hand bikes are so widespread is due to the overwhelming number of bikes that are stolen throughout the city, on such a regular basis. Having two strong locks on your bike is essential at all times.
Amsterdam bike lanes are not scarce, as in most European cities. On the contrary, every street has a bike lane on its side. If you want to plan your journey, you can purchase the Amsterdam op de fiets (“Amsterdam on the bike”) map, available at Amsterdam Tourist Offices for the price of 4 euros. It has illustrations of suggested bike routes, bike repair shops, tram lines and even popular attractions. It covers all of Amsterdam and suburbs.
Amsterdam is at its best from the water and famous for its bikes. Combine the two and you have the Canal Bikes! Discover the city and the idyllic small canals at your own pace, completely undisturbed by the traffic by renting (at an hourly rate) a water bike. Their moorings can be found at several places, such as Rijksmuseum, Leidseplein, Anne Frank House/Wester Church and Keizersgracht/Leidsestraat. For more information visit http://www.canal.nl/.