The Netherlands is very well known for being very very friendly to cyclists, in part due to the uniquely flat landscape, and indeed using a bike to get around is an ingrained part of everyday life, so much so that the high rate of bicycle use is seen as a mundane and ordinary part of life like using the supermarket or going to the pub.
With 18 million bicycles in the country, cyclists in the Netherlands are the de facto kings of the road. Here you will see all kinds of bikes that you will probably have never seen before, from the classic omnipresent omafiets to the strange and unwieldy bakfiets.
There is usually always a cycle path (fietspad) running alongside every road or footpath, and these cycle paths are also shared with scooters and some small electric cars. While cycle lines commonly have their own traffic lights and indicators, for the most part cyclists are expected to follow the same road rules and timings as motorists.
As expected, there are places to buy bikes everywhere in the Netherlands, but prices can vary wildly. For a secondhand bike, you can expect to pay anywhere from €50 on somewhere like www.marktplaats.nl or advertised in public adverts in supermarkets, to around €150 for a nicer bike from a shop or market. For new bikes, the sky is the limit, and they can get very expensive very quickly. It is advisable to just buy a secondhand bike, as they are usually perfectly useable, and also due to the chance of theft. Given the abundance of bikes parked all over the towns and cities, bike theft is a real problem in the Netherlands.Therefore it is of the highest importance for the well-being of your bike that you invest in a proper bike lock, and preferably more than one.
You should buy a heavy, fairly expensive chain lock or a U lock for the front wheel and frame (yes, front wheels are often stolen by themselves), as well as a ringslot which is attached to the frame and locks the back wheel. Do not try to be frugal with your bike lock, as bike thieves are very experienced with all kinds of bike locks, and the cheaper locks can only take them a matter of seconds to break. A cheap lock will eventually result in a stolen bike.
In order to be able to take your bike on a train, you need to purchase a special ticket just for your bike, which is currently around €7. As so many people cycle in the Netherlands, this is to prevent the trains from becoming clogged with everybody’s bicycles. Also, there are special compartments you must use to store your bike on the train, which are usually at the end of the train. You can find these by looking for the bicycle symbol on the outside of the train doors. You cannot take your bike on a train during rush hour as the trains are so full. These hours are: before 0900 and between 1630 and 1800 on weekdays, except in July and August.
To help locate your bike if it gets lost, stolen, or moved in case it was parked in the wrong place, in most municipalities you can get it engraved (fiets graveren) for free with a unique serial number. This will allow the authorities to reunite you with your bike in case it goes missing and they are able to locate it. You may have to pay a fee of around 10 euros to reclaim your bike.
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