This article looks into 3 reasons why Amsterdam is one of the best cities in the world for cyclists.

Amsterdam is a European and world cultural capital. It is famous for being a party hotspot and for being exceedingly liberal where other world cities choose not to be. It is also a phenomenal city for cyclists. Let’s now turn to why this is the case.

1.     Infrastructure

The cycling infrastructure in Amsterdam is first rate. Where most cities in the world are crying out for an integrated network of separated bike lanes. Amsterdam has these in abundance. This network is worth far more than the sum of its parts. You can get from almost any location to any other location by bike in an extremely safe and segregated manner.

bike path 1

Where separated bike lanes are not available, you can make use of quiet backstreets and parks which are well integrated into the system of bike lanes.

This network of safe segregated bike lanes is such that you see many people aged 8-80 and quite possibly beyond that range cycling across the city. You see almost no wearing of helmets or Hi-Vis jackets whatsoever, such is peoples feeling of safety and confidence. It is not uncommon to see pregnant ladies and parents and grandparents cycling with children in child seats. This is an extremely safe system to cycle on.

Overall, it cannot be overstated just how high quality the cycling infrastructure is in Amsterdam.

2.     Effort

The sad truth is that cities around the world have largely oriented themselves around the private car and have made cycling an afterthought. In Amsterdam this is not the case. Time and again the city authorities go to unbelievable levels of effort to make cycling easier and safer.

Whereas in a lot of areas cyclists are seen as a problem to be managed, in Amsterdam they are seen as a solution to be encouraged.  We will now look into a few examples of these extraordinary efforts.

The cycling and walking tunnel under Amsterdam Central Station is my personal favourite. It looks really nice and makes a great cut through for the two most sustainable forms of urban transit.


Next is the giant multi-storey bike park adjacent to Amsterdam Central Station. I have never really understood how people manage to find their bikes in there after they park them, but it is a remarkable piece of infrastructure nonetheless.

Parking multistory

Lastly, the effort that goes into junctions and roundabouts is absolutely outstanding. Having a network of segregated paths is great, but how that system fits together is also vitally important. With cycling infrastructure you are only as strong as your weakest point. At junctions there are buttons and traffic lights specifically designed for cyclists. You feel incredibly safe cycling at junctions in Amsterdam.

traffic lights 1

3.     Culture

The culture of cycling in Amsterdam makes it a truly special place for cyclists.

Cycling infrastructure can only do so much. In many places drivers take it upon themselves to intimidate cyclists in the most egregious manner. In Amsterdam this does not happen. Because almost all car drivers will also be cyclists, there is an entente cordiale between cyclists and drivers the likes of which I have never seen anywhere else. This means that where drivers and cyclists come close to one another such as on back streets, that cars are incredibly civil. It also means that drivers are far more likely to check their wing mirrors before opening a car door, as they would not wish for it to happen to them. You only get behaviour like this once you fully embed a cycling culture within a city.

Further advantages of having a cycling culture within a city is the factor of safety in numbers.

Cycling 1

Safety in numbers helps a lot on journeys across the city, but it is also useful when parking. In a lot of places it would be incredibly unusual to just lock your wheels, but in Amsterdam this is commonplace. With so many bikes parked in so many places, the chance of your bike becoming a victim of theft is small.

In other cities where there are only a small number of highly professional bike commuters it is necessary to lock your bike against a fixed object.

Overall, Amsterdam has a phenomenal cycling culture and is a special place for cyclists.

cycling 2

What you need to know

This article looked into 3 reasons why Amsterdam is one of the best cities in the world for cyclists.

  1. The infrastructure in Amsterdam is extensive of high quality and extremely safe to use.
  2. The effort the city authorities go to to roll out the red carpet for cyclists is stunning when compared to cities around the world.
  3. The culture of cycling in Amsterdam is deeply ingrained into the psyche of the city. This makes it special.

Overall, cycling in Amsterdam is not like cycling in any other city in the world.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. What do you think is the best city in the world for cycling in?

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I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby



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