Do it like a Dutchie and cycle your way through the Netherlands, come wind or rain! Language Institute Regina Coeli gives us a few tips for safe (and cheap) cycling.
Being so flat, the Netherlands is ideal for cycling. And the Dutch do that a lot! When on holiday, at the weekend, but especially during the week.
Dutch people go by bike to work, school, the pub, the sports club – you name it. And you’ll generally find them cycling through any kind of weather. Unlike in many other countries, the bicycle is a fully-fledged means of transport here, and there are superb cycle paths in most places. In fact, many city centres are more accessible by bike than by car.
Whistling through the rainOf course, it is nicer to cycle in the spring sunshine than through the pouring rain. But a heavy downpour doesn’t stop the Dutch (and the expats who have also adopted the habit) from hopping on their bikes.
With a little practice, you can cycle while holding an umbrella (note: it’s not particularly safe), and good rain gear is widely available. Besides that, sometimes all you need to do is wait half an hour or so for the worst of the rain to pass. Anything is better than sitting in your car at the back of a traffic jam.
Top 3 tips for safe (and cheap) cycling in the NetherlandsOf course, as a cyclist, you’re obliged to obey traffic rules. If you’re not fully aware of what you may and may not do as a cyclist in the Netherlands, it’s useful to look it up. Here, we’ve limited ourselves to the three things you really need to know when you get on your bike.
1. Lock your bike properlyWhether your bike is worth a fortune or a pittance, a bike that’s easy to steal is more likely to be stolen than one that’s properly locked.
2. Proper lightingMake sure you have good lights on your bike so others can see you well and so you have a good view of the road on dark stretches. Note that the white light goes in front and the red light on the back of your bike.
3. Avoid getting a fineThere are several fines for bicycle offences. The ones for drink-driving, and cycling through a red traffic light or with a phone in your hand are the highest. And for good reason, since countless accidents happen because of these three things.
Special road signsThe traffic rules are often self-explanatory, but there are three road signs that may need some explanation for non-Dutch speakers:
Uitgezonderd fietsers (excludes cyclists)
The road sign does not apply to cyclists.
Fietsstraat, auto te gast (bicycle street, car is a guest)
This is a bike lane where cars are also allowed. Cyclists have right of way.
Rechtsaf voor fietsers vrij (right turn on red permitted for cyclists) As a cyclist, you may cycle through a red traffic light when turning right.
Oh no, a wet seat!You know what we’re talking about, right? You want to hop on your bike, but your seat’s soaking wet. What do you do when that happens?
Dry it with your sleeve. Dry with a tissue. Just sit on it anyway. Those trousers will dry in time! Take the cover off your bike seat and enjoy a nice, dry seat. A bicycle seat cover? Yep, many Dutch people have a special cover for their bike seat to keep it dry. That way, they always have a dry place to sit when they get on their bikes. Incidentally, a plastic bag (without holes) also works great as a seat cover.
Does the idea of always having a dry bike seat appeal to you? Then send an email to Regina Coeli at: [email protected]. They’ll send you an RPET (recycled PET) bicycle seat cover that you can use to your heart’s content! Want to learn more than just Dutch road signs? Sign up for one of their intensive training courses now!