Tips for tourists on bikes in Amsterdam

  1. Use the bike lane, not the sidewalk. Common sense.
  2. Don't pass on the right, as is the rule in most other traffic situations.
  3. Use hand signals to indicate to others that you are going to turn or pull off to the side.
  4. In order to use hand signals, leave your phone in your pocket or bag. Seriously, check your stupid phone later!
  5. If you do need to pull over, signal and just do it. Don't swerve into the middle of the lane trying to rubber neck behind you to see if your buddy is there. You'll cause a pile up.
  6. Use a backpack or saddle bags instead of a purse that you need to keep balanced on one shoulder.
  7. Don't ring your bell continuously unless you want people to recognize you as a dumb ass. Use your bike bell to signal for practical reasons, like to indicate that you are behind someone that may not realize they are in the way or that you are approaching and have the right of way.
  8. If you're on a bike in a crowded street and you notice a lot of pedestrians but no cyclists, you probably shouldn't be on a bike! There are areas where cycling is not allowed. Examples include directly around Centraal Station and pedestrianized shopping streets like Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat.
  9. Don't ride along the middle of tram tracks.
  10. Use front and rear bike lights so that you can be recognized as a cyclist in dark conditions.
  11. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes. I'm not talking a Lycra cycling suit, but sensible footwear and clothing, not hoochie shorts and high heels.
  12. Look for road markings and traffic lights that indicate whether you have the right of way or not.
  13. In general at intersections, traffic at the right has the right of way.
  14. Pedestrians at zebra crossings have the right of way.
  15. If you see 'shark's teeth' pointing at you (white triangles painted on the road) you must yield.
  16. Red means stop and green means go. It's that simple.
  17. If you're not familiar with coaster brakes, make sure to rent a bike with hand brakes.
  18. If you can't ride a bike, think twice about trying to learn in the crowded traffic conditions that exist in Amsterdam. It's a walkable city and parking a bike can be a pain in the ass anyway.
  19. If you can't ride a bike, but believe you can after you leave the coffee shop, you're asking for trouble. Good frickin' luck, dude.