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Bike Riding in Amsterdam . . . Has anyone done it?

Bike Riding in Amsterdam . . . Has anyone done it?

Old Jul 17th, 2014, 06:29 AM
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Bike Riding in Amsterdam . . . Has anyone done it?

Has anyone had experience with riding a bike Amsterdam? My husband and I are considering a four hour tour that goes through some parts of the city but the majority of the tour is in the countryside. It is mostly riding along the Amstel River. It visits a windmill and a cheese farm/clog factory. Coming back into town it goes through the Beatrix and Vondel Park. My husband and I know the countryside riding will be fine, but he has concerns about biking around the city and wants to be sure that it’s safe to get around. I am a little more comfortable with the ride because I am assuming that Amsterdam is structured around bike transportation and there will be bike lanes and car drivers will know how to deal with bikers.

We leave in two weeks so any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Old Jul 17th, 2014, 06:35 AM
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PhillyFan did...after getting LOTS of grief:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ike-v-tram.cfm

~Liz
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Old Jul 17th, 2014, 06:51 AM
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Well if you are part of a group that's better - I assume and from what you say about where in A'dam you are riding, it will not be full exposure to A'dam biking because it can be brutal. You need to know the rules and keep up with the pack or it might not be pretty - yes the city is structured for bikers but think an interstate for bikers not leisurely riding!

Could you give me the name of the tour - I have friends going in Oct. and this tour sounds like something they would love.
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Old Jul 17th, 2014, 07:02 AM
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Last time I rode there there were no problems. But do wrong at major bike junctions then you will be shouted out if you don't signal and get on with it. Other than that there is not a problem, yes you get traffic signals for bikes and yes you have to obey stuff. But it is not some sort of Le Mans start, just have a map and know where you are going.

Problems with other traffic, yeah right ;-) just ain't going to happen.
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Old Jul 17th, 2014, 07:51 AM
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If with a group leader fine - on your own without any guidance it is a poor idea IMO to bike in central Amsterdam as many in the thread bilboburgler links to shows. but on a tour you'll have no problems - I've done that countryside route via the Amstel River - nice bike paths along the river then into places like Abcoude and other small towns - all flat!

You'll have a lovely time but besides that biking on your own makes for most a poor unsafe idea unless you know the ropes.
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Old Jul 17th, 2014, 07:52 AM
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Is that the one with Mike's Bike Tours? It sounds a lot like the one I went on with them last year (2013). It was ok, except I was too wimpy to demand a bike with pedal brakes, so I had some problems with the handbrakes. I haven't had a bike with handbrakes for almost thirty years. But the group goes rather slow and you simply follow everyone else.

Remember to bring something to eat and drink, because there's no restaurant or cafe out at the windmill or farm. The tour company had rain ponchos, but you'd better bring your own helmet if you need one.

As for riding a bike solo in Amsterdam, no thanks. Everyone goes too fast.
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Old Jul 17th, 2014, 08:09 AM
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The crux of the issue is that while car drivers will know what to do with (traffic rule obeying) bikers, the bikers also have to know about what to do about cars, other bicyclists, and pedestrians. Depending on where you are coming from, there are a lot more in each category. The bicycles are integral part of the Amsterdam transportation system and people are in a hurry to go from one place to another in fashion naturally orderly for the locals. If you are from the US, your interaction on the bicycling is mostly avoiding contact with cars sharing the same space. In Amsterdam, you will be riding bicycles in close proximity and frequently cross paths with pedestrians mixed with tourists many of which are not from bicycle dominant countries. While your concern seems to be interaction with cars, I think the greater issue are interaction with other bicyclists and tourists who would suddenly wonder into the bike lane in front of you.
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Old Jul 17th, 2014, 08:09 AM
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Coming back into central Amsterdam via the parks avoids the narrow streets around the canals. These would be broad-ish avenues, with separated bike lanes. Observe lane discipline and signals as you would in a car, and you should be OK, especially in a group. You can always use Google Streetview to check out the route. You might also find this blog interesting:
http://amsterdamize.com/2012/12/30/b...oes-amsterdam/
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Old Jul 17th, 2014, 08:14 AM
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While your concern seems to be interaction with cars, I think the greater issue are interaction with other bicyclists and tourists who would suddenly wonder into the bike lane in front of you.>

Yes in deedy - spot on IME - bike lanes are pretty much set off from street traffic except at main intersections where there are red lights. The major non-bike threat to me is getting you wheel caught the wrong angle in the ubiquitous tram tracks - I've seen several bikers go down on tram tracks so be careful to cross the at the best angle - straight on.

the major problems come from yes naive pedestrians who may not know the bike paths are for bikers only and other bikers - if you are clogging up the fast lane - riding in the center of the pass so it is hard for others to pass you will get horns, bells and often verbal attacks to 'get the h out of the way' - these paths are not for leisurely sightseeing - especially at rush hours.

But if you want to, like Philly guy did, just stick to small lanes along canals where few cars or other bikes go and are not in a hurry it can be a sweet way to get around town. Bike theft however is still said to be rife.
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Old Jul 18th, 2014, 10:29 AM
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Thank you all for your information. It’s very helpful. We don’t intend to ride in the city and were only thinking about this specific tour. So we will take all thoughts, suggestions and warnings into consideration.

Suec1 – I found the tour on Amsterdam.info and it is in fact from Mike’s Bike Tours as anyegr mentioned.

Anyegr – Did you buy your tickets in advance or that day?

Does anyone have any suggestions for how to see the windmills if we don’t go by bike? We only have two days in Amsterdam. I would like to visit the countryside and see a windmill but probably wouldn’t want it to be an all day trip.

Thank you again, everyone!
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Old Jul 18th, 2014, 10:51 AM
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If you want to see and actually go into a working windmill then you can take the short train ride out to Zaanss schans which is a "reconstructed" (similar to the Williamsburg, VA, and Sturbridge Village, Mass., reconstructions) village.

There are several windmills there and often the so-called "color mill" which was used to grind paint pigments is in operation and can be toured.

Here's a link:

http://www.dezaanseschans.nl/en/
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Old Jul 18th, 2014, 11:02 AM
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jagger: I bought in advance. There were some people who turned up on the day. That may be a good idea in case of bad weather. The tour will go even if it rains, but may not be as much fun. When the group started to look a bit too big they split it before we left the bike place. The guide for my group was a woman. She said her name was Mike, but she wasn't the owner.

The stop at the windmill is short, mostly a photo opportunity. No time to go inside, not even sure if that would be possible.

The stop at the cheese/clog place is longer. The man showing how to make clogs was a bit irritating. He probably thought he was funny, but it got a bit too much. On the other hand, it was interesting to see how the clogs were made.

The cheese farm part was a bit disappointing, compared to another I went to in Italy in 2012. But if you've never seen how cheese is made it is ok.

There is of course a shop at the cheese/clog place and time to buy things. But no one is going to force you to buy anything. You can just walk out and sit outside to eat your packed lunch.

I think there are halfday bus tours to see windmills, but I did not go on one so I have no idea if they're any good.
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Old Jul 18th, 2014, 12:27 PM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=zaan...w=1406&bih=952

Yes for windmills take the train to Koog Zandijk station and tehn Zaanse Schans as Dukey1 rightly recommends is a short walk. And if into Dutch kitsch like wooden shoes then the souvenir shop there is a supermarket of wooden shoes, tulip bulbs, cheese, old fashion lace, etc.
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Old Jul 18th, 2014, 01:05 PM
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Thank you again. Your tips are very helpful.
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Old Jul 18th, 2014, 01:22 PM
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Yes, Pal, just like all those wooden shoe, cheese, and tulip places <B>in Amsterdam</B> and you can ride your bicycle right up to the door, too.
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Old Jul 19th, 2014, 01:02 AM
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PalenQ is right about pedaling in Amsterdam. I've lived in Haarlem and biked a lot there and to Zandvoort and south. But I wouldn't ride in Amsterdam. Probably 99% of the Amsterdam bikers are going from point A to B as fast as they can. If you are out on the bike roads rubber necking you are an accident waiting to happen.

There are bicycle rickshaws that can tour you around the city.

Pleasant weather should be coming to Holland. If you just want to bike for the sake of biking I suggest renting in Haarlem and pedaling out through the dunes to Zandvoort. It is a great beach town. You can go south through the dunes to Katwijk and even the Hague if you have it in you. If you don't want to ride back you can take the bikes on the train with you for a fee.

The windmill at Zaanse Schans mentioned by Dukey1 is named "de Kat" and you can climb around inside while it is running, turning a huge grinding stone. I found it very interesting to see how the gear works operated. I bought my wooden shoes at that shop and have worn them now and them with heavy woolen socks. They sure keep your feet warm.
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Old Jul 19th, 2014, 12:58 PM
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@jagger: about seeing windmills: go to Brouwerij 't IJ and you'll be able to have very good beer in one. Brewed on the spot too.
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