The symbols of the Netherlands are windmills, tulips and… bicycles! It is on this popular two-wheeler that millions of Dutch people travel every day to school, work, to do shopping or to meet friends. If you are travelling to the Netherlands for work, be prepared for a real cycling frenzy.
Dutch bikes, electric bikes, family bikes
Cyclists in the Netherlands are an integral part of the landscape – wherever you look, you will see someone riding a bicycle. If you are interested in working in the Netherlands, you should get used to this sight and accept that, for you too, the bicycle will become your primary mode of transport.
Tradition vs. modernity
In the Netherlands, Dutch bicycles, also known as city bikes, are most commonly used. These have a low-positioned frame, large wheels, curved handlebars, and are characterised by a basket placed at the front or rear.
You can use a city bike to get around towns, cities and villages without any problems, but the Dutch mainly use them for short distances, up to 7, maximum 10 km. If the route is more, they reach for an electric bike.
Electric bikes require less commitment and are still a better means of transport than a car. With such a bike you can cycle on cycle paths or on the street, and the speed of movement is much faster than with a classic bike.
Bicycles for READY STEADY GO Employees
Our Employees also have Dutch and electric bicycles at their disposal – depending on demand. They can use them not only for commuting to and from work, but also in their free time. This way you can reach your designated company without any problems and benefit from safe and free transport for shopping, excursions or social gatherings.
A brief history lesson…
Bicycles appeared in the Netherlands as early as the 1870s. Initially, they were a luxury good that only the richest could afford, but over time they also became available to middle-income Dutch people. Although for a long time bicycles were considered merely a technological novelty, they quickly became popular with the Dutch population. The authorities of the time took advantage of this fact and introduced a tax on motor vehicles and bicycles, with the proceeds being used to build 1400 km of cycle paths.
…until modern times
Nowadays it is up to the city councils in the Netherlands to take care of the cycling infrastructure. They decide which parts of the cycle paths need renovation or where new paths should be built. The Dutch have become so fond of cycling, that the Ministry of Road Transport there plans to create cycle highways linking the country’s largest cities. It is estimated that there are already more than 35,000 km of asphalted cycle paths in the Netherlands and more than 64,000 km of other roads on which cyclists can ride (not counting standard roads for cars).
Who rides a bike in the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands nobody needs to be persuaded to cycle. It is already taught to young children and it is mainly immigrants who have problems with adapting to the bicycle lifestyle. The Netherlands also breaks the stereotype, commonly known all over the world, that people who cannot afford a car ride to work.
Almost everybody cycles there – both children and adults, old and young, CEOs and production workers. The sight of an elegantly dressed woman or a man in a suit cruising the streets of a city on a two-wheeler is not uncommon. Cycling in the Netherlands is therefore not associated with social status, but with generally accepted practice.
The Netherlands – an ideal country for cyclists
The huge popularity of bicycles in the Netherlands is not only due to the fact that cycling is environmentally friendly and has health benefits. The Netherlands is considered to be the country best suited to cycling, so cyclists can feel safe and get around both in and out of the city without any problems.
The state has ensured that cycle paths are level, smooth, well-marked and lit. They are also wide enough for cyclists to ride side by side and to overtake each other. Where possible, cycle paths are separated from car paths, but if they have to be connected, cyclists have priority over car travellers. This rule applies, for example, at roundabouts, of which there is no shortage in the Netherlands.
What’s more, cyclists can benefit from numerous facilities. Bicycle parking facilities, bicycle repair shops, spare parts shops, as well as shops and rental shops appear in many places. There are special bridges for bicycles over rivers and, where necessary, footbridges over carriageways.
An additional incentive to cycle is the terrain. The Netherlands is not mountainous, but rather flat, so there is no need to go up high hills.
Cycling friendly legislation
Dutch cyclists are not only favoured by the infrastructure, but also by the law. This assumes that in many places they have priority over cars, and drivers, accustomed to cyclists on the road, are very sympathetic to them. Cyclists, on the other hand, are obliged to obey the rules of the road and exercise due caution.
Cars vs. bikes
If a collision between a bicycle and a car occurs, the fault is most often attributed to the driver of the car. What’s more, he or she is often liable for around 50% of the value of the damage caused to the bike or cyclist.
However, this does not mean that cyclists go unpunished. When riding a bicycle, you are expected to comply with the law or pay a hefty fine if you break it. Every bicycle should be equipped with lights and at least one brake. If you are missing any of the mandatory equipment, you could end up with a fine. Also remember not to ride with headphones or without lights – these offences have to do with road safety and are therefore punishable by very high fines.
Dangers of cycling
Cycling on Dutch roads is relatively safe, so much so that there is no obligation to wear helmets. However, you need to watch out for cars on the road and remember that although you have priority when riding a bike, in many situations a collision with a car can end tragically for you.
Due to the large number of bicycles and their widespread use, there are also many thefts of bikes in the Netherlands. So, if you use a bicycle, be sure to secure it thoroughly against theft. More than 900,000 bicycles disappear under unexplained circumstances there every year, which is about 5% of all two-wheelers in the country. The percentage of theft, although it seems small, actually means that by using insufficient security, you can quickly get rid of your two-wheeler.
How to prepare for cycling in the Netherlands?
If you go to work with our agency, you will be given one of the Dutch or electric bikes to use, depending on how far you will be commuting. Remember, however, that you are responsible for your own safety.
So before you leave, make sure you have a smartphone app to help you navigate and a phone holder for your bike so you don’t have to hold your smartphone in your hand. We wrote more about this in the article What to take with you to work abroad.
Cycling Netherlands is waiting for you too!
If cycling in the Netherlands has been your fear, you can stop being afraid. You’ll just be another cyclist there. Remember that you’ll save a lot by cycling because you won’t have to pay for fuel for your car, you’ll improve your fitness and you’ll adapt better to your new surroundings. Still in doubt? Contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions!