Visit Holland - The Netherlands

Top 7 - FAQ Cycling in Amsterdam

Below you will find an overview of frequently asked questions about cycling in Amsterdam. Bikes and cycling in Amsterdam:

1) Where are you allowed to cycle in Amsterdam?

Cyclists are allowed to cycle on all roads in Amsterdam with a 30 km/ph speed limit and of course, on the extensive cycle path network that covers the city. Separate cycle paths run alongside the majority of roads with a 50 km/ph speed limit and if there is no separate cycle path, cycle lanes are marked out on the road. Under no circumstances are cyclists allowed on the motorways!

2) How many accidents are there involving cyclists annually in Amsterdam?
Approximately 900 people are injured in traffic accidents annually and an average of 15 of these accidents are fatal. In 56% of these accidents, the injured party is a cyclist.

3) Is wearing a helmet obligatory when cycling in Amsterdam?
No, and most Amsterdammers do not wear a helmet. An increasing amount of children wear a helmet when cycling, but this is not the case with the majority of adults.

4) How many bikes are removed by the Fietsdepot (Bicycle Depository) every year?
The Bicycle Depository is not actually responsible for removing bikes, this is a task carried out by the individual City District authorities. Approximately 30,000 bikes are delivered to the Bicycle Depository every year. These bikes are stored for 3 months to give the owner the chance to reclaim their bike. Only about 25% of the owners collect their bike - a lot of the bikes are in such poor condition that the owners feel that reclaiming them is not worthwhile. Another reason that could explain the low collection rate is that owners mistakenly assume that their bike has been stolen. Signs around the city clearly state where it is permitted to leave bikes, but people often ignore the signs which can result in their bike being removed. Bikes that are not collected from the Bicycle Depository after 3 months are used for employment/reintegration projects in the Netherlands as well as abroad (e.g. in Suriname and Afghanistan), auctioned to second-hand dealers or sold to Stadspas (City Card) holders who are able to purchase a bike at a discounted price.
(Read more about the Fietsdepot (Bicycle Depository).

5) Where are cyclists permitted to leave ('park') their bikes?
Cyclists may leave their bikes anywhere in the city as long as doing so doesn’t cause a safety issue or (traffic) nuisance. At certain spots in the city (such as Amsterdam Central Station and Leidseplein), it is only permitted to leave bikes in the designated bicycle storage facilities. District authorities regularly organise so-called ‘sticker campaigns’, in which a sticker is placed on all bikes in a certain area with the message that the bike must be removed within a certain period of time. If the stickered bikes have not been (re)moved at the end of this period, the authorities deliver the bikes to the Bicycle Depository. Wrecked bikes that are deemed to be complete write-offs are no longer taken to the Bicycle Depository, instead they are destroyed directly.
6) In general, how do Amsterdam cyclists behave towards motorists?

Cyclists in Amsterdam have a reputation of being somewhat anarchistic and are perhaps even proud of this reputation. The fact that they often ignore the rules of the road can cause problems. Cyclists are not permitted to cycle through red lights, although they often do. Motorists are often taken by surprise by cyclists in the city, but they have also learnt to drive with additional caution in the city.

7) Are children officially required to pass a cycling proficiency test?
Nearly all primary schools offer a theoretical traffic examination (in group 7), although this is part of the curriculum taught to all pupils and not an obligatory requirement. Approximately 70% of primary schools offer the practical cycling examination a year later (in group 8), but this is also not obligatory. However, schools are obliged to provide traffic education. The City of Amsterdam and regional authorities assist by providing free educational packages.