Cycling around the Netherlands can be a stressful experience if you’re unfamiliar with Dutch bicycle lanes. From traffic signals to cycling etiquette, this guide provides an easy-to-follow introduction on best practices for staying safe and sharing the road with other cyclists.
Learn the Rules of the Road
When cycling in the Netherlands, it’s important to know the rules of the road. Cyclists should obey speed limits and never ride on sidewalks, should always give way to pedestrians, and must always use the proper hand signals when turning or stopping. Cycling at night requires a white light at the front of your bike and a red reflector at the back.
Mostly, stay alert to pedestrians, other cyclists, as well as faster moving vehicles such as cars, trams, buses, and trains. Do your best to indicate to them when you are changing direction. Also, watch your speed – it’s best to match the speed of those around you if you can, but going a little slower is always allowed as many different cyclists of all skill levels share the bike lanes.
Understand Legally Allotted Space for Each Vehicle Type
The Dutch bicycle lane system is carefully regulated and well-marked. All cyclists, motorcyclists, and car drivers should be aware of legally allotted space for each vehicle type. Bicycle lanes tend to be highly visible and clearly marked but they can vary in width depending on the type of road they are on. Motorists must pay special attention to these lanes as they often have priority over other traffic in certain situations. Cars are generally considered guests.
Don’t Forget to Signal on Dutch Bicycle Lanes
When you are riding on Dutch bicycle lanes be sure to constantly scan the road and signal your intention to turn, slow down, or stop. This will help other cyclists, pedestrians and motorists make informed decisions about their route. Don’t forget to use your arm signals! Your left arm should be out for turning left, right arm for turning right, and both arms raised in an “X” position for slowing down or stopping. Also remember to always use bike paths if they are available as well as comply with speed limits on all Dutch roads. There’s no need to be in such a hurry as the view
Be Aware of Special Case Lane Types, such as Trails and Tramways
Cycling in the Netherlands can be complicated as there are several different types of bike lanes and paths. You must be alert when traveling on cycling trails, which are often separate from car roads, and contain their own dedicated signage. In addition to bike trails, trams also have their own special lane set-ups that cyclists need to observe. Many tramlines are near the side of roads and it’s important to remain aware of these tramway tracks so as not to accidentally ride onto them or put yourself in danger.
Stay Visible At Night and Be Wary of Intersections
To stay safe while cycling in the Netherlands at night, make sure you have reflectors and turn on your bike lights. Bike lanes also have their own special set of traffic rules so be sure to become familiar with them. As intersections are an important part of getting around, remember that cyclists have right-of-way in many situations when crossing a street. It’s important to look carefully for cars, small motorcycles or other cyclists before proceeding across an intersection.
Dutch cycle paths are among the safest in the world. You may be overwhelmed at first at the number of cyclists you encounter, especially those without helmets, however we are confident that if you have the right attitude and follow the points made above, you will enjoy your cycling adventure in the Netherlands.