Amsterdam: Cycling Capital of the World

Sitting home during Spring Break, scrolling through my Instagram feed, all I saw was sand, sun, and piña coladas. It seemed like every single person I knew was in Cancun. And while yes, I was having massive FOMO, especially when looking outside my window to the massive pile-up of snow, there are so many other places to consider when planning Spring Break. I went to Amsterdam last summer, and it was a city that I immediately fell in love with. Rich with history, delicious food, and beautiful views, it is a great destination for Spring Break or honestly any time of the year when you have a a week to yourself. I especially wanted to highlight the cycling history of this city, so I hope you all learn something new today and add Amsterdam to your travel bucket list.

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When I first stepped into Amsterdam, I was scared for my life. Robbers? Criminals? Poisonous water? No. Not even close. I was terrified because of the bikers. Amsterdam is an extremely bicycling-friendly city, and there are more bikers than drivers, and at that time, it felt like more bikers than pedestrians as well. When crossing the street, I wasn’t worried about cars or buses; I was worried about getting hit by a biker. However, I quickly realized that Amsterdam had set up a great traffic system for bikers, drivers, and pedestrians to get to the same place, and my fears were alleviated.

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ADam-bike-parking-probs-photo-by-Alex-Rk-Flickr

So how did Amsterdam become the cycling capital of the world? Well, it began with a need for change. At the start of the 20th century, with a growing economy in the post-war era, more and more people began to buy cars. However, with the growing traffic from the increase of cars in the densely populated neighborhoods of Amsterdam, traffic accidents became rampant. In 1971, more than 3,000 people were killed by cars, with 450 of them being children. These accidents led to protests for change.

Now, today there are about 250 miles of bicycle paths criss-crossing Amsterdam. Here are some more numbers about Amsterdam’s biking use:

Number of bikes 881,000
Number of kilometres cycled by Amsterdammers each day 2 million km
Percentage of Amsterdammers that cycle daily 58% older than 12
Number of pedal boats/canal bikes 120
Total length of cycle paths and bike lanes (Amsterdam Bicycle Network) 767km
Dedicated cycle paths 513km
Two-way cycle paths 275km
One-way cycle paths 236km
Bicycle shops 140
Bicycle parking spots around Amsterdam Central Station 10,000
Secured bicycle parking garages 25 (including 8 free bicycle garages)
Number of bicycle racks 200,000–225,000
Number of bicycle hire businesses 29

Biking is a huge part of life not only for Amsterdam, but for the entirety of the Netherlands itself. Trips from Amsterdam to Delft, Rotterdam, or the Hague can be taken just on two wheels alone. My parents did it when they were my age when they visited the Netherlands and it was really cool for me to bike the same paths my parents did decades ago.

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Overall, this city is extremely unique in the way they have made cars their guests. It is an experience like no other and it is so beautiful to just be able to bike from one end of the city to another, on the side of the beautiful canals, taking in the fresh air. Amsterdam was one of my favorite places I have traveled to and I highly recommend it for you to consider when planning your next trip.

 

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