Monday, March 9, 2009

Road Rules 103: Fietsers

Unless you're planning on stealing a bike, you're more likely than not going to get a few basic tips at the rental shop. And you won't need to do a maintenance check on the light and bell to make sure both work since the rental store should do that on a regular basis. That said, let's review the basics and expound on a few other unwritten/unmentioned rules and tips.

Rule #1 - Get used to the bell. You may be lucky and won't use it, but those chances are slim. Give a few trial rings, maybe have a race with your friend to see who has the fastest bell ringing reflexes. Trust me, it will come in handy.

Rule #2 - Even though the rental shop has checked the light, you may also want to do so yourself. If you ride in the dark without a light, you WILL get a ticket.

Rule #3- You must always be on the lookout of pedestrians and other bikers. Be a defensive driver!

Rule #4- Here in Holland, we drive on the right side of the road, not the wrong... I mean- left side. Granted, there are situations where you will have to. For example, in construction areas (which Amsterdam has quite a few of) you may have to drive on the opposite side of the road. However, whether you're biking on the left side in a construction area or for another specific purpose, make sure you stay on the right side of the bike path.

Rule #5- Independent of which side of the road you're riding, DO NOT HOG THE BIKE PATH. Stay on the right side of the path unless passing. If you and a biking buddy are riding together, keep your ears open for the friendly ringing bell of a biker behind you who wants to pass, and then move over.

Rule #6- Upon entering another street, you may see a row of triangles across your path (see picture below). If the triangles are pointing towards you, you must yield to oncoming traffic.

Rule #7- Every time you enter a round-about you will have to yield (since the triangles will be facing you). Once in the round about, do not stop. However, make your intentions known by the handy-dandy arm signals you've been taught as a young child so that the cars will be forewarned. But, be cautious and aware of your surroundings the entire time. Some cars may not see you.
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Tip #1- In construction areas you may have to ride dangerously close to tram tracks. Stay as far away from them as possible. The tires of a bike are a perfect fit, and if you do happen to slide into one, you will flip. (That I know from experience). Keep your wheels perpendicular to the tracks when you go over them.

Tip #2- Be careful riding close to the curb. The likelihood of the pedals slamming onto the curb and your inevitable contact with the pavement will increase ten fold. (This I do not know from experience, thankfully).

Tip #3- Always be on the lookout for people on bikes such as the ones pictured below. Individuals on rental bikes usually don't know where they're going -- which is why the two bikers in the picture are riding on the wrong side of the road.
Tip #4 - Beware: the bike paths aren't for pedal bikes alone. Handicap cars (pictured below), and motorized bikes with blue license plates(also pictured below), are allowed on the bike paths. Even though they are not allowed to go more than 30 kph, they are ruthless.
Tip #5- Although you will see bikers holding an umbrella in the rain, DO NOT attempt it. Umbrella holding is only for experienced Dutch cyclists. If you do try your luck with it, don't say I didn't warn you. Best idea would be to buy a poncho -- you may look like a dork, but you'll stay pretty dry.

Tip #6- Make mental notes on these three courses - or even better, make a print out of each and keep it on hand while wandering the streets of Amsterdam. If you do you'll have a safe and happy trip, and won't be cursed by any of the locals.

1 comment:

Christa said...

These are awesome. And very educational!