I’ve had this as a draft post since 24/05/2016… I checked. So when I saw a post on Facebook this morning “Geef toeristen geen fiets meer” (Don’t give tourists bikes anymore) I was like… damn, Gina! Someone got in my head!!
I agree with Sarah Ouwerkerk, the author who wrote the post, completely. But also “Damn, Gina! Why have you written it in Dutch? How are tourists ever supposed to read it??”
So here’s my post, from 3 months ago, which offers some of the same points as the article above, but with a little more ranting! 😉
I’ll say it again: can everyone please stop telling tourists to hire bikes in Amsterdam!!!
It annoys the living shit out of me.
I work for a travel publisher, and mentioning no names, in our Amsterdam guide on page 6 the first thing it says to do… and I quote: “Cycle through the city on a fiets. Rent a bicycle and peddle through the Grachtenring, the narrow streets in the Jordaan district, across the Dam or along the banks of the IJ at your own pace. Do as the locals: cyclists are allowed to ride side by side and the wrong way down one way streets here.”
No, no, no, no, NOOOOOO!!
I love the company I work for and I love our guides, but this is the most idiotic tourist advice I’ve ever heard. I was so infuriated, I emailed our editorial department immediately and asked them to remove it from the next edition of the guide.
It’s not just us though, I’ve seen the same advice offered in other guidebooks, on countless blogs and even on the official Iamsterdam website.
Seriously people!! What is wrong with you?
The average tourist probably hasn’t ridden a bike since they were 15, they also don’t know their way round Amsterdam (because, duh… they’re tourists) they probably want to take photos and they might also like to drink some Heineken (other beers brands are available) or maybe even smoke some weed.
I know what! Let’s give them a bike!
Why, why, why?
Quite simply: it’s dangerous, and above all: stupid.
So, they’re riding along on bright red (or yellow) pristine bikes, at a snails pace, with a map in hand or perhaps a selfie stick (personally, I prefer to call them wanker sticks) with no idea where they’re going… and they’re probably also tipsy and / or stoned.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of accidents and near accidents I’ve seen, and I only visit Amsterdam about once a month! I cannot begin to imagine the amount of carnage that tourists cause on a daily basis. I’ve seen them holding up traffic, just because they’re cycling so damn slowly… or because they’re fussing with a map or phone, holding up other cyclists and just generally being a nuisance to other road users (and pedestrians for that matter!!) I see this as a visitor myself, so the locals must be tearing their hair out!
Who thought this was a good idea again?
So, here is my plea to tourists visiting Amsterdam:
Unless you are a highly competent cyclist and you are with someone who knows Amsterdam well – PLEASE do not hire a bike in Amsterdam.
You are a liability!
Amsterdam isn’t that big, but you’re gonna get lost. You know why? Because a lot of places look kinda the same… even if you’re sober. And if you’re drunk, or stoned, or both? Much, much worse.
Do yourself and everyone else a favour and walk. Please. Pretty please… with a cherry on top!
Walking is so much more fun! You’ll be going at a slower pace, so you’ll see more, it’ll be easier to take pictures and selfies – if that’s your thang. It will also be SO much easier to navigate because you can hold your map or phone in your hand and not have to worry about wobbling, crashing or falling off your bike.
For your own personal safety and for others around you, it’s just not a good idea.
And d’you know what else happens when you don’t hire a bike? Happy Amsterdammers. It’s a beautiful city, Amsterdammers are proud of their city… but do you know what they’d like even more?
If you get the fuck out of their way while they’re trying to get to work, pick up their kids, or are running late to meet a friend.
Make Amsterdam happy. Stay on two feet.