There’s something about riding along smooth tree-lined streets and immaculate boulevards that only cyclists know. For most cities, however, this is an impossible dream: a faint, far-away idea from a hazy, distant future. In others, it’s a terrible experience where cyclists fight for space with people, cars, and in some cases, cows. Still, in other cities, biking is a dangerous, risky adventure fraught with limb-breaking risks. Fortunately, there are cities on the globe where biking is an easy, pleasurable adventure. These are the places where city authorities have been intentional about curating some fine biking experiences. At the head of this pack is Amsterdam, the biking capital of the world.Of course, aside from just cruising on your Domane or some other fine endurance bike, Amsterdam is insanely beautiful with many enjoyable things to do and see. What better way to explore all these than by using a bike?
Why Amsterdam Is The World’s Biking Capital
It’s not just in Amsterdam. City cycling is a Dutch phenomenon and thrives well in all Dutch cities. However, Amsterdam provides the ultimate city-cycling experience. It’s not for nothing it’s been described as the bicycle capital of the world. However, it has not always been like this. There was a time that cars ruled the streets. After the Second World War, and the economic boom that followed the subsequent reconstruction efforts, cars became a status badge and a trendy, technological fad. City authorities, in line with the increasing shift, instituted changes in the traffic landscape. This make-over was to facilitate and expand the movement of automobiles.
At first, these changes were hailed. With time, however, people saw the toll cars were exacting on their spaces—and their lives. They felt they were ceding ground and that their space was narrowing and diminishing with every passing day. It didn’t help matters when accident numbers, many involving children, began to steadily climb. At first, there was disaffection, then discontent, then open revolt. Fueled by a dash of activism, the Dutch started agitating for fewer cars on the streets. Some progress was made. However, the Yom Kippur War would later become the decisive factor. As a result of this war, Arab oil-producing countries imposed an oil embargo on the Netherlands and a host of other western countries. Faced with a biting shortage of a now expensive product, the prime minister went live on television in an impassioned plea to his countrymen to avoid cars or at least reduce their use. To the city’s populace, it was like preaching to the choir. The city authorities would go on to redesign Amsterdam in another intentional makeover, this time, a bicycle-friendly one.
Today, about 1 in 2 ride their way to work in Amsterdam—with countrywide safety levels that are twenty times those in the United States. Amsterdam’s streets are small and narrow, calculated to make it hard for driving. And this is not just your idea of narrow. Some streets, like the Trompettersteeg, are only 100 centimeters wide. Then there’s also cultural attitude. Even before cars and the post-war economic stimulus, the Dutch and his bike were never soon parted. Come to think of it, even now there are alternatives like trains and trams, but the Dutch would still like to pedal. Of course, the Netherlands is to a large extent flat. Just the perfect terrain for cycling. And Amsterdam is so flat that the only elevated “hills” would be the gentle ascents on a bridge over one of the many attractive canals. It’s where you can cycle for hours without breaking a sweat. Still, even with near-perfect infrastructure where roads, crossings, intersections—even bridges—are carefully marked and dedicated, a cyclist's safety antennae should always be raised and up. Fortunately, these aren’t markedly different from those in downtown Manhattan or any American city.
Best Cycling Routes In Amsterdam
Here’s the truth: there are many reasons Amsterdam should be on your 2022 travel bucket list. And seeing how people ride their bikes on busy streets while holding babies, umbrellas, or pets—is quite a stunning spectacle. But if you want to be personally on the road, you’ll need to know some of the best cycling routes. Amsterdamse Bos, or forest in English, on the city’s skirts, is one such place. You’ll ride against a stunning backdrop of glistening lakes and majestic trees.
- Direction To Amsterdamse Bos From The City Center: Ride southwest past the Van Gogh museum then onto through Vondelpark for about 25 minutes.
One other popular cycling route is the 38-kilometer Ronde Hoep cycling route which starts from Amsterdam Central Train and for long portions, follows the beautiful Amstel River. There’s also the 128-kilometers Rondje Gooimeer, Eemmeer en Loosdrechtse Plassen cycling route that takes you through many small, Dutch villages and up to 4 Dutch provinces. This route is relatively long though—and you’ll need to be in fine shape to ace it. These three are some of the finest, though there are other amazing cycling routes in and around Amsterdam that are a dream of any cyclist.
Whether it’s the beautiful canals that dot the city’s polder landscape—or Amsterdam’s stunning architecture—the brightly colored tulips or just the food, Amsterdam is an attractive city that can quickly hypnotize. And exploring it using a bicycle gives it a whole new look.