Where do we start with bikes? They are like huge sailing ships that breeze past you as if you are not there. They have bells which are used at the very last minute. It is said in Amsterdam they do it on purpose to scare the tourists. I actually believe that! The most experienced fietsers use the bikes like it’s an extra appendage, expertly taking everything in their stride, like there’s a psychic bond between fietsers, they all seem to know each other’s next move and seamlessly move around without crashing, well most of the time anyway. I can’t wait to join in when we move there.
I saw a girl fall off once outside the American Book Centre in Amsterdam at Spui, when her wheel stuck in ithe tram track. Two people went to her assistance, one to pick up one of her red stiletto shoes which obviously had nothing to do with her falling off, the other to pick the bike up because a tram was coming. Any cuts, bruises, pain, blood or torn clothing was secondary.
There are more bikes than people in the Netherlands which doesn’t make much sense. There are also hundreds dredged out of canals in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam every year. Bikes are important. As with cars in the UK, in Holland you can test drive a bike to see if you like it before you buy it. The most famous bike models are Gazelle and Batavus but the eBike is rapidly becoming the favourite mode of transport in Holland, so many new companies have emerged to cash in on this new market.
The eBike has become so popular, the batteries so powerful, the Govt. has had to step in and limit the power because some can exceed 45kh. The regulation speed before the battery cuts off and you need to pedal again is 25km/h or 15.5mph. The cost for an eBike can vary from a couple of hundred €s to a few thousand. Recently the Govt. has had to step in again, this time against texting and biking. You could get special holders to attach to your handle bars, similar to those for mobiles or sat navs in cars so you could text away whilst cycling to the shops or to work. But not now.
From June 2019 it will be illegal to text and bike. However, just like car drivers, some think laws are for others, that is until they get a €95 fine. Another welcome rule is the banning of mopeds from bike paths (fietspaden). Another welcome rule is the banning of mopeds from bike paths (fietspaden). However if there is a blue sign by the fietspad, you can ride on it, but if there is a yellow one you can’t. About time too. I nearly got run over in Venlo by a guy on a moped riding down the bike path. He even had the audacity to shout at me like I was in the way or something. I was, I was drunk but that’s nowt to do with it. Git!