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  • Amsterdam: The Cycling City

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    Amsterdam is perhaps the most bicycle-friendly city on earth. As you watch the Amsterdammers whizz past you at unimaginable speeds perched on their flimsy-looking pedaling machines, it might seem to you that they are born right on their very bicycles. All this frantic bicycling is made possible by a plethora of bike paths that criss-cross the city and even beyond. It is then that you realize that the only thing you ever require, to come across all the gems of this amazing city, is pedaling power.

    Amsterdam, the cycling city

    The historic city center of Amsterdam, circa 17th Century, is full of narrow winding streets and as such not a suitable area for traveling by an automobile. Under the circumstances, cyclists and pedestrians have a definite advantage. No wonder most of the people living in the area consider their bikes the only reliable means of transport. With a whopping 400 km of bicycle paths that can take you almost anywhere in town, it’s no wonder that Amsterdam is a true cycling city.

    When in Amsterdam do as…

    In Amsterdam almost all residents have their own bikes. With 600,000 bikes in a metropolis comprising of around 750,000 inhabitants, there are nearly as many bicycles as people. Couriers, police officers, and at times even Prime Ministers can be seen on two wheels, and visitors are often amazed at all those multi-storey bicycle racks. Actually, hiring a bicycle is an excellent way to explore the city, and for many visitors an adventure in itself. A bicycle can be cheaper and faster than even public transport, and by discovering the glories of Amsterdam astride a bicycle enables you take in more in one day, while having the pleasure of being one with the locals.

    Renting a bike

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    It is possible for you to rent a bike from nearly everywhere in Amsterdam. Bicycle hire companies are aplenty near the main transport hubs like the Central Station, Dam Square and Leidseplein. You can have a short term rental ranging from three hours with the average cost for a whole day around 8 Euros. Some companies hire out various kinds of bikes such as touring bikes, tandems, kid’s bikes and even kick-scooters.

    If you feel adventurous and go for long distances, it is better to hire a scooter or moped. Or if you want to leave terra firma and try to make it on water instead, then paddling around the city’s famous canals either in a pedal boat or just a pedalo can be fun. In this way, you can explore an entirely different aspect of Amsterdam, you aren’t even aware of.

    Biking tours

    Another great way to discover all the top sights of Amsterdam is astride a bike, led ably by a seasoned guide. This will save you a lot of time and effort as you don’t have to wander here and there at random in an unfamiliar city. Or if you prefer a quiet and tranquil excursion, a tour of the Dutch countryside by pedaling along past the proverbial windmills through broad, green pastures can be a deeply satisfying experience. Then there are companies that even provide individual themed tours, like a Jordaan tour, or a simple picnic tour.

    Safe cycling tips

    If you are not accustomed to the kind of traffic prevailing in Amsterdam, cycling within its confines can become rather chaotic! So here are a few tips on bicycling the city.
    While biking along, remain in your particular lane on the right of the road, clearly marked in white lines as well as bike symbols. Keep up with traffic signs and lights in general and refrain from biking on pavements, footpaths, shopping streets and motorways. Put your hand out when making a turning, as a signal.

    It is necessary to keep a wary eye on traffic as you can see scooters zipping down the bicycle lanes, taxis hurry down the tram rails, and huge delivery vans jostling for space to maneuver can find it difficult to make you out, if you happened to be in their particular blind spots. It is not wise to pedal with more than two persons across and if you do, give room to other cyclists, and pull over to one side to check a map or answer the phone.

    And be careful about tram rails, as your tires can easily get stuck in the rails, so cross them only at sharp angles. While pedaling at night, the law requires you to use the front as well as the rear lights of your machine. Since bike thefts are a common thing in Amsterdam, lock your bicycle up to an immovable and secure object, such as a bicycle rack. And last but not least, never try to imitate the Dutch as they are infamous for breaking rules. They think nothing of pedaling at night sans any light and passing through red lights.

    Now that you have a good idea of cycling, enjoy it.

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    Comments

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