Dutch biking. Extreme sport or simply life?

Karolina Fotyga

When you start to live in a foreign country it’s always about getting to know it. Getting to know its people, its customs, its everyday knowhow. One of the things that comes to mind when you think about The Netherlands is biking.

And so yesterday was my first day of the real biking experience. It was Dutch biking. City biking. But above all I think it was somewhat survival ‘extreme sport’ biking. Three words – apocalyptic pouring rain;) I’ve never been so wet before. In my entire life. Every piece of my clothing was soaking wet – as if taken straight out of the washing machine. Without the final spinning. Even my shoes were full of water. I’ll try to save some dignity and stop talking about it now.

The point is I spent more than 2 hours on my bike going from place A to place B and back, observing other people at the same time. Which I’m pretty much obsessed about as you will soon know.

And I must say it was amazing. I’ve been passing hundreds of people of all ages – in this somewhat disturbing weather – on their bikes. People like myself going where they needed to be. But  you know – seeing a 90 year old man using the respiratory system on the lane next to you is somewhat enlightening. Truth be told – he was using some sort of an electric scooter but still. He was more active than many 20 something year olds I know, and he wasn’t the only one. There are many seniors using regular bikes as their mean of transport. Just incredible. 

Below you’ll see some examples of my todays findings – those are just shops’ pics, but when it stops raining I will be adding real life photos to this post. Pics I didn’t took because of the freaking rain;)

So first – as a tribute to the oldest men I saw today – electric scooter. Those and Vespa-likes share the bike lanes in the Netherlands and some say the go against the code. But the are pretty much visible in the city, even though majority of vehicles are bicycles:

Electric scooter

Most of the people are using regular city bikes such as this one:


kids have their smaller version just like mommy or daddy:


If your a toddler or smaller kid you may be lucky enough and your folks have something like this:



or THIS – how cool is that? This is a Segway if someone didn’t notice. Today I saw a vehicle like that – carrying 6-8 kids inside. It was a preschool trip of some sort:

found on Pinterest

And a real cargo one. One of many actually:


I wouldn’t say majority, but a lot of bikes are family bikes such as these:

family bike

Speaking of comfort – more and more often (as I read – but my short observations confirm that) you can spot electric bikes such as this one – with a little battery in the back:

electric bike

Or these – very compact folding ones. This one you can even bring with you on the tram. Others are not allowed (except after 7pm):

compact bike

There are also tandems – regular (for adults) or combo – parent/child. In this case the front part of the bike is simply smaller:

family tandem

This last one I saw the other day when the sun was still pretending to be on duty. And next to the hover boards I believe this uni bike is for fun purposes only:


So yes. And everyone had everything ready for the rain. The boots, coats, all that. I’m still in shock. Cultural shock that is. Oh, speaking of shock. No one except expats, maybe, is wearing a helmet. It’s legal to do it, though. It’s illegal to not have a bell or a light, and you may get a fine for not having those.

Interesting, isn’t it? 


Do you have any experience in extreme city biking? 🙂 Let me know in the comments who prefers cars anyway:D 

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