Amsterdam Cycling Culture
If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam then you will know first hand why the city is known as the bike capital of the world. So much so that there are actually more bikes than residents in the capital city.
According to the most recent figures, the 850.000 residents of Amsterdam together own 847.000 bicycles. That represents 1.91 bicycles per household. Bonus fact: each year between 12,000 and 15,000 bikes are fished up from city’s canals. – Amsterdam Facts
And for a less scientifically, but equally true, fact about being around bikes in Amsterdam:
During my time here I have seen the Dutch perform some impressive stunts on their bikes, and even failed at some myself! I’ve seen a woman casually cycling with 3 children on her bike. A man cycling with the world’s largest cello. And even a guy cycling 2 bikes at the same time! So if you’ve ever wondered why it’s such a big part of Amsterdam’s culture then read on.
You will often see men in three-piece suits cycling to work on their bike. Why? Because getting around Amsterdam with public transport is incredibly expensive. Tourists are expected to pay around €3 for a one way journey on a tram.
I paid €90 euros for my bike, and although it has been through the wars, it lasted me a whole year and still going strong. Never again have I had to pay to travel across Amsterdam by hectic trams, metro or Ubers.
Perhaps the most important reason as to why cycling is so important to the Dutch lifestyle, is its practicality. When I first arrived in Amsterdam the first thing I did was find an apartment, and then a bike. It is virtually impossible to get around the city without one.
If you’ve ever visited Amsterdam then you can see why it would be impossible to travel in a car. The city centre is made up of water and tiny bridges which aren’t suitable for vehicles. If everyone was driving the traffic would be a nightmare, so cycling just makes more sense and is actually a whole lot quicker than driving or getting public transport. The government have even decided that no cars will be allowed in the centre; promoting the use of bikes even more!
Another practical reason for cycling is that every single street has a bike path. These incredibly spacious bike lanes make it so much easier to get around Amsterdam with (almost) no worry that you might get hit by a tram.
Health and environment
With the hundreds of thousands of people using bikes instead of cars, Amsterdam paves the way for a more green, eco-friendly and less polluting way of travelling. The Dutch have helped to inspire other European cities such as Copenhagen, where bikes account for over 50% of trips within the city centre.
Not only are the Dutch helping the environment, but also themselves. Many have the most incredible legs, but more importantly, are in amazing physical shape with a reduced risk of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. While living there, I never stepped foot in a gym because I was getting so much exercise from cycling.
The Dutch mentality is very much ‘why would I use a car to get from A to B, when I can just cycle?‘ And this is an incredible way of thinking and living. I hope more European cities follow in Amsterdam and Copenhagen’s footsteps to help create healthier and happier people and environment!
If you’re moving to Amsterdam then find out more information about how to get a bike.