Bikes and Cycling in the Netherlands

Information about cycling regulations and routes in the Netherlands...

Bicycling in Holland is very popular, with more bikes than inhabitants. In addition to recreational cycling, the Dutch use bicycles as a means of transportation for commuting to and from work as well as for daily errands.

Bicycles are allowed on trains in Holland except at peak travel times, though a separate pass (Dagkaart Fiets) must be purchased for the bike. Standard folding bicycles that meet size restrictions are exempt from requiring a separate ticket. Bicycles are not allowed on board public buses, but are allowed on ferries.

Special Routes for Cyclists

Obligatory, separate, bicycle lanes are marked with round blue signs with a white bicycle in the middle. In many parts of Holland, there are well-indicated special routes for cyclists, which will lead them through some of the most attractive regions of Holland.

Holland's excellent bicycle path network is clearly marked with the ANWB (Royal Dutch Touring Club, an automobile association) red and white signs and mushroom-shaped posts, indicating the quickest route from A to B.

The Dutch National Cycling Association (Stichting Landelijk Fietsplatform) created and manages a network of over 4,500 km of cycle routes in the Netherlands. All LF routes are signposted in both directions. Route guides for the LF routes are available for a fee and divided into four categories including those for holiday tours, area guides, weekend rides and day tours.

Rules for Cyclists

Cycling paths: cyclists must use the cycling path if there is one. Cycle paths are usually paved in a red-brick colour to clearly differentiate them from roads or footpaths. Cycling paths that are marked with rectangular blue signs, marked fietspad are not compulsory. Where there is no cycling path, cyclists may cycle on the road along with cars.

To assist cyclists the ANWB has placed a large number of emergency repair kits throughout Holland which allow riders to repair their own punctures and undertake minor repairs. Called fietsservicepunten, many of these Bicycle Service Points also have recharge facilities for electric bikes. It is however, still recommended to carry a patch kit and necessary tools when riding.

Bicycle lights: approved lights at the front and the back are compulsory at night and when visibility is reduced.

  • The front light must be white or yellow
  • The back light must be red and attached to the bicycle at a distance of 26 to 120cm above the road surface
  • Some riders wear lights that clip onto their clothes or bag. This is permitted as long as the colours and heights adhere to standard rules

Alcohol: the maximum blood alcohol level permitted when cycling is 0.5mg, however being stopped for cycling under the influence of alcohol does not lead to the suspension of a driving licence.

Mobile phones: using a mobile telephone when cycling is authorised.

Child transport: children under the age of eight have to be transported on the back of a bicycle providing they have a safe seat with sufficient back, feet and hand support.

Helmets: It is not obligatory to wear a bicycle helmet in the Netherlands although most small children who are learning to ride their own bike will be seen wearing one.

Electric bikes: these must have legal liability insurance. There is no age limit for these bikes and the same rules apply as for cyclists on ordinary bikes.

Bicycle Rental

Bicycles are available for rent in practically every city, town and village in Holland at bike dealers, repair shops and rental agencies. In most cities including The Hague, Maastricht and Delft, cycle hire is available at the train station.

Prices vary according to location and quality of the bicycle, as well as the demand for rentals at any particular time of the year. An average fee is €10 per bike per day. Helmets are rarely offered as part of the rental although children's seats are likely to be available at an extra cost. Many companies specialise in the rental and repair of bicycles.

There are nearly 2,000 "white bikes" available free of charge in Holland's largest national park, Stichting Het. They can be collected at a collection point (any of the three entrances to the park, plus the visitor's centre and the Museonder Museum); bikes are not locked and anyone can use them. When finished, return the bike to one of these locations.

Cycling Organisations

The Dutch Cyclist's Union (Fietsersbond) campaigns for improved cycling conditions in the Netherlands, including well-maintained routes and better security measures.