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Many people think of the Netherlands as a country full of bicycles, and this is certainly true. In the Netherlands, bicycles are a popular form of transportation. Many people regularly participate in cycling, and it is an enjoyable and healthy way to get to work or school or to use for leisure activities. Statistically, there are more bicycles than people with many people owning more than one bicycle.

Cycling is the easiest way to get around the cities of the Netherlands. Special bicycle lanes (fietspaden) are marked by a blue circular sign containing a white bicycle and are often paved in red. These bicycle lanes have separate paving markings and often their own traffic signs and lights. The use of these lanes is mandatory when they are present. The bicycle lanes are also shared with invalid vehicles and motorized bicycles. These bicycle lanes cover the entire country, making getting around by bicycle relatively safe and easy. Cycle routes are clearly marked using the network of cycling point signs, the Fietsknooppuntennetwerk.  It is not obligatory to wear a bicycle helmet, although most sport cyclists do wear them.

It is important to know at least the basic rules when cycling in traffic. The Fietsersbond has published a handy booklet with the regulations, traffic signs and road markings.

Verkeerswijzer Groningen has also produced a useful booklet showing diagrams of what types of traffic can use which roads, cycle paths or sidewalks.

Bicycle theft is common, so make sure that you invest in a good lock and always ensure that you lock your bike securely. Many cities also offer free (or for a fee) guarded cycling storage areas.

As a cyclist, you have to obey the rules of the road (the same as for cars). All bicycles are required to have the following equipment in good working order:

  • Headlight and rear light
  • Rear reflector
  • Bell
  • Brakes
  • Side reflectors on the wheels and pedals

If you are missing any of these mandatory items, the police may fine you.

Please be aware that you must cycle with bicycle lights in the dark; otherwise you will be fined. The fine for missing/malfunctioning bike lights is currently € 55 (for each light). Also, you can be fined for cycling while holding your mobile phone in your hand (€ 95).