Bicycles as far as the eye can see. That is probably one of the main things foreign tourists will remember after visiting the Netherlands and more specifically after visiting Amsterdam. Bicycles as well as people riding them are just everywhere. Bicycles are everything: a way of life, the main means of transport (especially in Dutch cities) and a very healthy and cheap way of getting some exercise. There are even more bicycles than Dutch people: 16,5 million inhabitants vs. 18 million bicycles!
THE means of transport
With so many bicycles it is completely normal to go everywhere on your bike, as long as the distance is not too long. Going to school, to work, shopping, going out: the easiest and cheapest way to do these is on your bike. Cycling is quite safe too, since there are bike lanes everywhere, most of time separate from the other traffic. And not even the unpredictable weather and the everlasting wind keep people from cycling. 84 % of all Dutch people have at least one bike, but most likely two or even three. Unfortunately, bikes get stolen too often, so you always have to have a spare one.
Parking your bike
If you have ever visited Amsterdam, you were probably amazed by the enormous number of bicycles. As soon as you enter the city you see them literally everywhere.
Next to the Amsterdam Central Station there is a huge parking house, just for bikes. When you walk through the city and along the canals, you see bikes parked and chained up to fences, trees and bridges. There is simply not enough space in regular bicycle stands, so every open space is used. Especially at train stations, it is quite a challenge to find a parking space. The public parking stands are very often filled with the so called ´orphan bicycles´ (weesfietsen in Dutch). These are bikes which are once left by their owners who no longer care about them or simply have forgotten the bike.
Are you interested in seeing how bicycle-minded Amsterdam really is? Then watch the video below.
The Netherlands even won an Oscar for an animation in which cycling is beautifully visualized (the last movie in the article).