Many students coming to study in the Netherlands have little experience with cycling, or at least cycling as much as Dutch people do! Here are some tips for cycling in The Netherlands:

  1. Lock your bike!

Always lock your bike, no matter what!

Actually, double lock your bike! Bikes have the back lock that stops the back wheel from spinning, but you should also get a chain lock! You should try to lock it to something solid, like a pole (of course, a pole you’re allowed to use!). If you can’t lock it to a pole, use your chain lock and loop it through your front wheel and the body of the bike.

Also make sure that you put your bike in a legal place! If you park your bike where it is not supposed to be, it is possible that it will be collected by the municipality and you will have to pay to get it back! The following link will explain exactly how to get it back: https://www.utrecht.nl/city-of-utrecht/mobility/cycling/bicycle-gone/

2. Use your lights!

This is very important for biking at night! You need a white light on the front and a red one on the back! Make sure you turn them on when it’s getting dark.

You can get little emergency ones at bike shops or other stores so that you always have extra lights in case! This is for not only your protection, but for the protection of others.

3. Know the biking norms!

When you’re biking, make sure to stay to the right side of the bike lane so that people can pass you if they need to. Use your bell signal that you would like to pass them  so that they can move to the right.

Use hand signals when making turns and be careful making your turns! Be mindful of others when on your bike, especially when others are on mopeds.

4. Be prepared for the weather!

A rain jacket is never sufficent in the Netherlands!

Many people own pants that to put over their trousers when biking and these are called “rain pants.” You can grab a pair at a bicycle shop and they will stop your pants from getting wet while biking in the rain. Trust us, these are the best investment if you plan to bike in all kinds of weather!

And even when it’s not raining, but it is cold, make sure to bundle up! A scarf will protect your neck and a hat will keep your ears covered. This will help you avoid the impression of your ears being close to freezing completely and falling off. 

It is also a good idea to have a spare rain poncho in your bag in case it starts to rain when you least expect it (which is often the case!).

You can also get a bicycle seat cover. If its rainy, you can put it on your bike when you park it and you won't have to sit on a wet saddle.

Another great tip I have for you once it comes to be prepared for the Dutch weather is to use modern technologies. Download the ‘Buienalarm’ app, which will tell you exactly at what time it’ll rain on your location. You can even decide to get notifications shortly before it’ll rain. So if you’ve got class or a meeting, just check your phone in advance to see if you should leave a little earlier to avoid getting soaked.

 

‘And how do you stay pretty whilst cycling, or after you’ve stepped off your bike?’. After reading the last point, you’ll know exactly how Dutch girls manage to keep their hair, make-up and outfits looking great after a windy bike ride.

 

5. Get bungee cords or a basket for your groceries or bags!

If you are often cycling, chances are that you are also cycling with your personal items. Depending on what bike you have, you may have a basket or just a frame on the front of your bike. In this case, you place your bag inside the basket or on the frame.

If you don't and you want a basket or bin, you can get them at places like the HEMA and you can secure them with zip ties. It’s a little bit of an investment, but it could be helpful, especially if you don’t really have any other ways to secure your items to your bike!

If you do not want to invest, bungee cords are the way to go! If you have groceries, you can easily strap them to the front by tying the straps of the bag(s) to the frame and then using the bungee cord.

6. Enjoy cycling!

You don’t need to be an outstanding cyclist and participate in the Tour de France after your time in the Netherlands! You don’t need to be super fast or have a fancy bike to enjoy cycling and get where you need to be!

Cycling is really fun and it is really good for you: it gets you out and moving but it is also much faster than walking! It may occasionally take a little longer than the bus, but it is cheaper and more eco-friendly! Plus, you get to enjoy a large part of the lifestyle of the Netherlands!

 

7. An additional special for all female cyclists, when it comes to fighting the Dutch weather!

As most females have longer hair, we know the struggles of keeping them in style, especially when its a rainy and windy day. Especially when you have curly hair. An easy solution is to tie your hair up in a low ponytail, and untie it when you get off your bike. Easy as that. Or just opt for hairstyles that are more resilient against the wind: a high Doutzen Kroes-like ponytail, or the trendy half-updo with tiny bun. Just pick a hairstyle that will require nonchalance, and you’re good.

Secondly, I want to share my tips of making sure my make-up still looks reasonable once I reached my final destination. Make-up is actually pretty easy: choose waterproof versions for rainy days. And if you use powder on your skin, try applying a foundation or primer first. That way, the loose powder won’t fly off your face whilst cycling. 

 

Happy cycling!