7 things that will get you fined while cycling in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is often called a ‘cycling paradise’. Despite this, there are 53 (yes, you read that right) different ways you can get fined while biking in the Netherlands.

I was cycling through the streets of Utrecht one evening when I was suddenly flagged down by the police. Before I knew what was happening, BAM, a fine of €55 for not having bike lights. I also got a €90 fine for not carrying my ID which I had left along with my wallet at home that day. My little bike journey brought me to a nice lump sum of €145. Rough. 💰

READ MORE | Do’s and don’ts of riding a bicycle in the Netherlands

To ensure that your biking trip doesn’t become as unnecessarily expensive as mine, here’s a basic guide to Dutch fines while cycling — but remember that’s not all of them so make sure you get yourself familiar with the laws. 👮

1. Cycling without lights or reflectors

photo-man-walking-with-his-bike-at-night-in-the-netherlands
Walking your bike home after a night out in the Netherlands. Image: StockSnap/Pixabay

Cycling in the dark without bike lights is probably the most common reason for getting a fine. Like me, many people forget to buy new bike lights. 😅 You need to have both front and backlights for it to count, otherwise, you will still get a €55 fine. You can also get a €35 fine for not having reflectors on your bike.

On the bright side (as the officer who fined me also ironically said), bike lights are only like €3 or €4 in Jumbo or HEMA. A pretty small price to pay for safety, right?

Pro tip: Don’t put the little lights you buy in the flickering light function! This nifty little trick can also result in a fine of €55.

2. Cycling under influence

This one is a little more self-evident. Clearly, you shouldn’t step into any kind of vehicle drunk — and in the Netherlands, this applies to cycling. According to the police, you can be fined €100 for having anything over 235 ugl (0.54 profile) of alcohol. This translates to roughly two and a half beers, so watch out! In addition to this, you can get an €85 fine for not cooperating with the alcohol test.

Next time you’re coming home after drinking, consider walking your bike instead. 🚶

3. Not indicating the direction

If you’ve ever cycled in the Netherlands you’ve seen people sticking their arms out when changing direction on a bike. While it may sometimes seem extravagant, it is actually very handy to avoid accidents.

Beyond this, not indicating direction can land you a €35 fine. So stick those arms out people!

4. Not having a bell (and other stuff)

photo-broken-bike-in-the-netherlands
A sad, broken bike. (Cause? Most likely a stolen front wheel). Image: Magdalicja/Pixabay

There’s a scarily long list of fines that you can get for a badly maintained bike. If you take one look at bikes in Utrecht or Amsterdam, you can conclude that the police doesn’t check most of these. In principle, however, you could be fined for the following:

  • Brakes that don’t work: €55
  • Broken pedals: €55
  • Not having a bell: €35
  • Broken bike frame: €55

5. Texting while cycling

Texting while cycling might be a more recent addition to the list of infractions you can commit while cycling in the Netherlands — however, it’s far from a rare occurrence. Since July 1 2019, you can get a €95 fine over this. Luckily Google Maps has a speaker function — so listen close to directions through your earphones and let maps guide you verbally.

6. Not following traffic rules

photo-bike-netherlands-native-stop-light-traffic
Cyclist traffic lights in the Netherlands. Image: Skitterphoto/Pexels

While it may seem like cyclists in the Netherlands think they’re above traffic rules, on paper at least, they’re not. You can get an €85 fine for running a red light, a €45 fine for driving on the bus lane, and a €30 fine for driving on a road where bikes aren’t allowed.

The baseline is, follow the traffic signs and you should be fine. 🚦

7. Parking in the wrong place

photo-parked-bikes-in-the-netherlands
Full bike parking in a Dutch city. Image: djedj/Pixabay

If you don’t want your bike to be removed, you may want to remember this one.

You can get a €30 fine for parking your bike in the wrong place, so just head to the nearest bike stall to park instead.

Most incredibly, in some places in the Netherlands, you can also get a €40 fine for not locking your bike — make sure to check your municipality rules. (Although the risk of getting your bike stolen is incentive enough.)

In a country with so many cyclists, it makes sense that there’s a lot of laws for them too. While overwhelming, most of these rules aren’t usually policed. Mostly, if you ensure you have good lights, and follow the general traffic rules, you should be fine. So, try to avoid fines, keep safe and happy cycling! 🚲

Have you ever been fined while cycling in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Pexels/Pixabay

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2020, and was fully updated in November 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Annabelle Willeme
Annabelle was born in Utrecht but grew up in Mali, Bosnia and Uganda. She moved back to Utrecht to study and is so far doing a terrible job getting back in touch with Dutch culture. Hopefully, it’s an upward trend from here. Besides writing she enjoys playing football, re-watching Grey’s Anatomy for the 10th time, drinking copious amounts of tea and has recently started trying to brew her own wine and beer… we’ll see how it goes.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. “Plug in those earphones”? Please don’t ride a bike while wearing earphones. If it doesn’t get you a fine already, it really should, for pretty obvious reasons.

  2. Hi,
    We’re are the hospitals what are giving euthanasia?
    Is many different hospitals or only one?
    I have a ALS (C9ORF72) and condition deteriorating. I like to know where to go. I appreciate all information what you can give.
    In Finland euthanasia is illegal.

  3. Have you seen how many cyclists don’t actually have lights!? I’ve been living here for several years now and find it extraordinary how careless cyclists actually are.
    Threatening to fine is great, but if there aren’t enough police around to enforce the laws – it’s pointless.

    • Early November there are usually police campaigns where they check and fine cyclists without lights. Or there used to be, I haven’t noticed them lately.

  4. I got stopped in Groningen for cycling the wrong way on a one way street. I decided to play the dumb foreigner and feigned ignorance of Dutch. I got off with a warning

  5. Dear all,

    You ride a bike, not drive!
    And nowadays you also can get fined for just holding your cellphone in your hand.

    John Ypple

  6. Good article!
    Two points:
    -If the police stop a biker for d.u.I., the first thing they ask for is your ribijwise! You can lose it for a d.u.I. on fietsen!
    -I believe it is illegal to operate any “vehicle” with both(2) headphone buds! Use only the one with the microphone!
    Tot straks 👋

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