Five ways the Dutch will try to kill you using a bike

If you are a tourist or fairly new to the Netherlands, you are an easy target for Dutch cyclists. Not that they are deliberately trying to kill you, you understand.

1. Bikes rule all. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a tank or you’re walking, you yield to the bike. And they take the hierarchy seriously. So stay off the red path and out of their way.

2. Bikes may rule, but Mother Nature trumps all, so when it snows, don’t expect ploughed bike paths. Long after the roads are cleared, the bike lanes will be piled high with snow. If you do not want to break a leg, do not try and copy the Dutch, who can happily cycle to work on ice in a roaring blizzard.

3. Back-pedal brakes. When you learned to ride a bike as a kid, you learned with hand brakes. But the Dutch, in an effort to be as cost effective as possible, have created a bike free of those pesky extra pieces and slapped the brakes to th  pedals. Push forward to go and backwards to stop. Try not to fly over the handle bars.

Don't try this at home

Don’t try this at home

4. Getting on. Notice how the Dutch get on a bike by standing to one side, putting their left foot on the left pedal, pushing off and then kicking their right leg over to the other side? All Dutch citizens – from infants who can’t yet speak to the elderly who should be using a zimmer frame – get on a bike this way. Try it some time. You’ll kick the seat and crash into the canal.

5. High alcohol beer. If you avoid the mass-produced Heineken stuff, you will discover the Dutch (and the Belgians for that matter) are unable to brew low alcohol beer. But they are able to invite you to the pub, order a few rounds, and expect you to bike home.

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22 thoughts on “Five ways the Dutch will try to kill you using a bike

  1. Christiaan

    You forgot the best way to scare tourist is to ride as fast as you can and at the very last moment go full into your breakers handelbar breaks or back paddle breaks ( these are the best to do it with) you make a great slipping sound that scares everyone who wasnt paying attention we crossing the road. Remember your not aloud to put you foot to the ground put just stand still and then ride of again as tho nothing happend.

    Reply
  2. korelzenga

    This page is quite hilarious. I read a number of the other pages but this one tops it as far as recognizable aspects of Dutch society are concerned. I almost rolled on the floor for laughter. My American girlfriend / fiancee had the same experience, while biking in Amsterdam. On rental bikes with back pedal brakes, which she was not used to. Go figure! I’ll recommend this site to her as well. She’ll love it.

    Reply
  3. Katerina

    And the moment before we off you with our pushbikes (just mere milliseconds before the actual realisation kicks in you’re about to be killed by a pushbike) we will ring our bells… Just because we can!!! 😉

    Reply
  4. Marcel

    Yes all Dutch citizens kan ride s bike like a pro bmx star. it is correct that ciclists can do anything while protected by law. Sometimes i get mad when im in my car but when im on my bike i dont give a shit about rules haha. Typical Dutch values haha

    Reply
  5. Martijn Zohlandt

    Let’s see. What do you mean: the Dutch aren’t able to brew low alcohol beer”. 5% IS low alcohol. The fact that Americans are used to their 2% Budweiser-lemonade doesn’t mean anything to that respect. Besides that. As a regular driver in Amsterdam I can tell you that most tourists on rental bikes are completely suicidal! 😉

    Reply
  6. Nicky

    To be honest the tourists are the worst drivers, we might seem like complete suicidal people biking the way we do, but we usually don’t have any kind of problems. When you add tourists (on bike or walking) to the equation things start getting dangerous.
    Riding your bike on ice is easy though, the trick is to not use your brakes under any circumstance (if about to hit something just jump off your bike) and to keep your steering wheel completely stable.

    Reply
  7. Patrick S

    Ways brits will try to kill dutch people using a bike:
    1. They just hand their bikes to us (their handlebar breaks are switcht. On the right handle the forewheel on the left the backwheel) Imagine what happens when you want to slib.

    Reply
  8. Anglea

    I recall first riding my bike in the low lands, I was astonished and freaked out how close everything was to me, cars, other bikes, walls, bushes, people. I was deathly afraid of a car killing me and while I was driving deathly afraid of running into a biker. while driving, I would wait and try to clear a path far away from the bikers. Well I got some pissed off Dutchies behind me wondering what the heck I was doing.
    Today 7 years later I realize the Dutch drive like they bike and further more few die. It is a controlled chaois. As far as bikes rule, they do and considering most are on a bike and few walk except where you are not permitted to bike I feel it is only natural. I am never bothered to wait or yied to the bike. When I bike I hope others will do the same. I just do not get the lack of yeild to walkers… but then again just bike it is easier!
    It is a controlled chaois, like Jazz music.

    Reply
  9. Jan de Winter

    I want to flag this article for having a pro-US bias. Millions of Chinese use bicycles although not as skillfully as the Dutch. The Japanese have used bicycles for years but the government is always trying to restrict paid parking – there is no free parking for bicycles. If you try, you lose your bicycle and have to pay a 25 euro fine to get it back. Also, stealing bicycles is a great hobby for some people both in Japan and in the Netherlands. So sometimes, riding a bicycle feels like pissing in the wind.

    Reply
  10. Paul de Kort

    4. Getting on. Notice how the Dutch get on a bike by standing to one side, putting their left foot on the left pedal, pushing off and then kicking their right leg over to the other side? All Dutch citizens – from infants who can’t yet speak to the elderly who should be using a zimmer frame – get on a bike this way. Try it some time. You’ll kick the seat and crash into the canal.!.

    I nver realized I was doing something skillful. Of course that is how I get on my bike. After reading this post (which is true), I just cant figure out how tourist get on their bike. Can someone please explain that to me.!

    Reply
    1. Anglea

      This yank… before living in The Netherlands for a good while and perfecting my biking skills…
      Put left leg over bike, then straddle the seat a bit and kind jump myself up on while balancing with the other leg… getting off brake then step off!
      Now I can do the dutch swing perfectly!

      Reply
    1. Anglea

      The only back pedal brakes in the usa are for children. I have to say I have never bought a bike here except once with back pedal brakes for adults.

      Reply
  11. Guybo

    while visiting Amsterdam a month ago I this Yank wanted to rent a bike but my wife said no because we didn’t know the rules or how to ride there. She was right we didn’t rent a bike because we would have been hurt or endangered others. But now back in the SF Bay Area I want a Dutch bike so bad! And I wish America would get our act together and put bike paths in!! Everybody like in Europe should be riding a bike! We spent 6 weeks in 6 different counties and what I learned is to quit taking our cars everywhere and start riding our bikes! We all have one but like I said I want a Ditch bike but the prices here are stupid high!!!

    Reply
  12. FarAwayDeb

    I am in the US and the only bike I have ever ridden had back pedal brakes. But that was in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

    Reply
  13. anubhasarkar

    ‘Try not to fly over the handle bars.’
    This line had me in splits, and tell me about it. The last time a biked was when I was in school, almost a decade back. And cycling coupled with the pedal brakes seems like a daunting task here!! I read your other posts about cycles in the Netherlands, but there’s one thing which I think you missed out on. I am a tiny person, nay, compared to the Dutch here, I am a dwarf, and what a task it is to find a small bike!! Took me over a month to find a bike small enough, yet it was still too big. I had to jump up to seat myself and jump down to stop myself. It was awful, made me feel less in control of the bike. Needless to say, I fell many times. Now luckily another tiny girl with the same problem as me sold her tiny bike! Phew!

    Reply
  14. Hugh Oxford

    As a person who lived on a bicycle in the UK, I thought I would have no problems cycling in the Netherlands, given my experience. I was wrong. Very wrong. It was terrifying, intense, surreal.

    Reply
  15. Micah

    My Dutch dad explained to me in the seventies why Germans have handle bar brakes instead of back pedal brakes : pedal brakes are okay in flat areas, but dangerous in hilly areas. Pedal brakes are okay for a short period of braking before getting to a standstill, but can get overheated on a long slope.

    Reply
  16. Mike Hutchinson

    6. Riding on the wrong side of the road or cycle path. Very common. Typically psychopathic.
    7. Riding on the pedestrian side of the path where divided into bike and pedestrian sides.

    Reply

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