Cycling Rules In Amsterdam

The sheer number of bikes in Amsterdam can be intimidating, to say the least. However, we hope that by sharing the cycling rules in Amsterdam you’ll be all set to cycle safely around the beautiful city of canals.

If you’re looking to rent a bike during your trip to Amsterdam, then be sure to check out our article which lists the cheapest and best rental companies in the city. We’ve even broken it down based on the type of bike!


Most of the older bicycles in Amsterdam feature the old fashioned breaks. They require you to back-pedal to break and don’t have levers on the handlebars.

That said, you can specify which bike you might like when renting one from a rental company in Amsterdam. They might be a little extra but it’s totally worth it if it’s likely to increase your confidence and safety while cycling.

Traffic Rules

It’s important that when cycling in Amsterdam you stick to the general traffic rules. These include cycling in a cycle lane where available and stopping for red lights.

At traffic lights with the sign ?Rechtsaf voor fietsers vrij?, cyclists turning right don’t have to wait for the light to turn green. However, you’ll still need to look out for pedestrians who might be crossing the road as they have right of way.

It’s also not permitted to cycle on footpaths, shopping streets, pavements and motorways. If you fail to do any of the following then you may find yourself being pulled over by the police and fined.


Trams have the right of way in Amsterdam. Just be careful when cycling over tram lines.

They are on the road and the gap in them is often the perfect size for a bicycle wheel to get stuck. Try to ride over them at an angle to avoid this happening.


Use your hand to signal whether your turning left or right or stopping. With a high density of cyclists, it’s important to warn others what you plan to do before doing it so they can allow you space to move and avoid a collision.

Your hand signals don’t have to be anything special or fancy, just something to let people know what you plan to do.

Lock Your Bike

Whether you plan to leave your bike for a couple of seconds or a couple of hours, always, always, always lock it. Lock it to something solid such as a tree, traffic sign or one of the many bike racks scattered around central Amsterdam.

Theft and vandalism is a common problem when it comes to bicycles in Amsterdam so it’s important to protect yourself and your bike wherever and whenever you can.


While helmets are not compulsory for cyclists in Amsterdam, you can often rent one along with your bike rental. For safety purposes, we’d always recommend doing so.

Ensure Your Bike Has Lights

It?s required by law that cyclists use both the front and back lights on the bike after dark.

Rental bikes in Amsterdam come with lights on as standard and will likely automatically switch on in the dark. However, be sure to check with the bike provider upon the rental agreement.

The Use Of GPS & Mobile Phones

Holding or operating a mobile electronic device while cycling is illegal (since July 2019). This is after a 17-year long debate (since the instruction of banned usage of mobile phones while driving back in 2002).

If you are caught using a mobile electronic device while cycling you’ll be subject to an on the spot fine by police. However, you’re more than welcome to use your mobile device while stationary on the bike (for checking directions etc.)

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