Having a bike in Amsterdam is almost like having a weapon. Before you go on saying “Oh Giulianna, you’re so exaggerated!”, let me tell you a little story.
When I first moved to Amsterdam, I already knew how to ride a bike properly – or so I thought.
After I settled in our apartment, my boyfriend asked “Ok, now all we need to get you a bike” to which I replied excitedly “Let’s do it!”, and my boyfriend then became all serious and asked me the question “Do you know how to ride a bike?” and I exclaimed “Why yes, of course.” – because you see, I thought that I did. I was innocent, I was naive… And I didn’t know what my anxiety was capable of.
Don’t get me wrong, using a bike in Brazil is just as dangerous (maybe more). But while the common fears you have when cycling in Brazil come from getting hit by cars all the time, in The Netherlands it comes from other cyclists and from tourist folk.I say tourist folk, because I truly believe those people were normal before they got on an airplane and stepped here. After that, they became another kind of human feared by many, The Tourist Folk. The Tourist Folk is different than a traveller. They are fearless, have no sense of anything, are often lost or in the wrong place at the wrong time, and hold huge maps while standing in the middle of the bike paths.
Now, if you come from other countries that also have a strong bike culture – like Denmark – then you will probably do fine here. If you don’t, then I recommend you think twice before hoping on that rental bike during tourist season (summer).
If you are wondering what that first experience of cycling through Amsterdam is like, I’ve got you covered. Illustrated with gifs along the way. From my anxiety, to you.
A list of Throughts I Had During my First Time Out on My Bike in Amsterdam
1. Getting on my bike, and cycling from home to the city! This is nice, I’m going to blend in with all the locals and get the full dutch experience!
2. This is going well… Huh? I guess have to stop at this stop light right now.
3. I’m looking so freaking fly right now.
4. More people are stopping too, now we are all waiting for the bike’s traffic light to go green, together.
5. Oh the light turned green.. WHAT? Where did that bike come from?
6. Stop cutting!
7. Jesus, how the hell am I going to get across?
8. Ok, this is where I’ll live now.
9. Everyone is gone, so I guess now I’ll make a run for it before the light goes red again
10. Ok, now I have to go left….
11. OMG, That bike almost hit me, didn’t they know I was going to the left?? Didn’t he see me?
12. Oh, other people are making a signal with their hands when they turn right or left…
13. Why are there so many people walking on the bike path?? Move people!
14. The pavement is right there!
15. Ok, my anxiety is kicking in. It’s kicking in STRONG.
16. Fuc***** people!
17. I literally can’t see with this amount of people on the street
18. Pavements people, p-a-v-e-m-e-n-t-s!
19. Is that a bridge I see? I’m gonna have to go over that?
21. MOVE MOVE MOVE!!!
22. Ugh, this is unpleasant, having to cycle upwards so much…
23. I should renew my gym subscription
24. Going down the bridge is a breeze
25. What do you mean there are more?
26. What??? 4 more in a roll?
27. I’m gonna die today, this is the day I’ll die
28. I literally can’t, I need a rest
29. So. Overwhelmed. So. Many. People.
30. Ok, I need to stop here because I don’t know where I am going actually
31. Fuck*** bike just hit me from behind!
32. She is not even sorry! What the?
33. He just went on with his life and I’m here left on the floor to die? Rude!
34. People screamed at me saying I stopped suddenly so I guess this is my fault?
36. Ok, I’m just going to walk with the bike from now on! Are you happy?
37. Yeah, I’ll do that until there aren’t so many people on the street
38. Ok, I’ve walked 12 blocks and I think I’m closer to home?
39. After the Central Station there aren’t so many people on the street!!
40. Oh my God, there is order in the world again!
41. I can feel the wind on my back, and everything is fine.
42. Life is good.
43. I’m so tired though.
44. Almost home…
45. I’m home, I can’t believe I’m home.
46. My hands are shaking, but I survived with minor injuries. That’s good, right?
46. That’s good.
The 3 things that go through your mind when you cycle in Amsterdam everyday after a year
I’ve been Dutchified.
Photo: Jeremy Timms