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 left at home for the day, together with my wallet.

This little bike adventure cost me 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.

Just remember that’s not all of them. So, make sure you’re familiar with the law before jumping on your favourite two-wheeler. 👮

1. Cycling without lights or reflectors

Cycling in the dark without bike lights is probably the most common reason for getting a fine. Like me, some people forget to buy new bike lights, and they also frequently get stolen. 😅

Biking at night? No problem — just don’t forget your bike lights! Image: Depositphotos

You need to have both front and backlights for it to count; otherwise, you can still get a €60 fine. You can also get a €40 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 €4 or €5 at the HEMA. A pretty small price to pay for safety, right?

Note: Don’t put the little lights you buy in the flickering light function! This nifty little detail can also result in a fine of €60.

2. Cycling under the influence

This one is a little more than self-evident. Clearly, you shouldn’t step into any kind of vehicle drunk.

In the Netherlands, this applies to cycling too. You can be fined up to €200 if your alcohol blood level is above 0,54 mg/ml.

Count those biertjes — one too many and you could be fined for cycling. Image: Depositphotos

This translates to roughly two and a half beers, so watch out! In addition to this, you can get a €100 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.

Stick out those arms and indicate which direction you’re going! Image: Freepik

Beyond this, not indicating direction can land you a €40 fine. So stick those arms out, people!

4. Not having a bell (and other stuff)

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 don’t check most of these.

A sad, broken bike. (Cause? Most likely a stolen front wheel). Image: Pixabay

In principle, however, you could be fined for the following:

  • Brakes that don’t work: €60
  • Broken pedals: €60
  • Not having a bell: €40
  • Broken bike frame: €60

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.

If you’re seen with your phone while biking, that’s an instant fine! Image: Freepik

Since 2019, you can get a fine over this — the amount of which has changed over the years and has now gone up to a whopping €140.

READ MORE | Fined for phoning while ‘fietsen’: over 850 cyclists caught on the phone every week

Luckily, Google Maps has a speaker function — so listen closely to directions through your earphones and let Maps guide you verbally.

6. Not following traffic rules

While it may seem like cyclists in the Netherlands think they’re above traffic rules, on paper at least, they’re not.

Cyclist traffic lights in the Netherlands. Image: Pexels

You can get a €100 fine for running a red light, a €60 fine for driving on the bus lane, and a €40 fine for driving on a road where bikes aren’t allowed.

READ MORE | Cycling like a Dutchie? First, you have to pass their bike exam!

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

7. Parking in the wrong place

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.

Make sure to park your bike where it’s acceptable! Image: Depositphotos

In some places in the Netherlands, you can even get a €40 fine for not locking your bike. (Although the risk of getting your bike stolen, or thrown into a canal should be reason enough.)

READ MORE | Bike fishing: a Dutch occupation you never knew existed

In a country with so many cyclists, it makes sense that there are 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!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2020, and was fully updated in June 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Annabelle Willeme
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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  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

    • Like I played dumb in Paris when a Gendarme stopped my for no lights on my bike. No speak French sir. He finally waved me away in disgust. Playing dumb did NOT work on the autobahn. It was 1989 just weeks before the wall fell. On my way back to NL from Berlin, I was fatigued and stopped along the autobahn to nap at the wheel. East Germany had a law that parking along the road at night required parking lights be displayed. Who knew? Two German Vapos woke me up and informed me in German it’s “ein straf” for parking there at night without lights. I played dumb until I heard one Vapo say let’s take him to the Stasi which sounded like disappearing behind the iron curtain. Still playing dumb waved my billfold and said ” Deutschmarks?” As I recall the fine was 67 Deutschmarks which was the West German currency at the time. The fine was paid on the spot and I got a proper receipt which I still have. Playing dumb works sometimes. No harm trying.

  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 👋

  7. Who thought it was a good idea to allow mopeds and these fat boy ebikes on the cycle paths ? Tik tok on fatalities . Especially these new e mopeds silent and doing 25mph almost been hit a couple of times

  8. I have just been fined while riding a bike and my mobile phone was at my hand, it cost me 145 euros? Was it fair?

    • Yes, it was fair. Motorists pay 350 Euros + 9 Euros administration costs. Research has shown that people who are busy with a phone while in traffic are more dangerous than people who are drunk. Any person with half a functioning brain wouldn’t even consider to ride a bike when they know they’ve had too much to drink. If you hold a mobile device in your hand while operating a vehicle, you can be fined. This is to rule out endless discussions that you weren’t on the phone but just checked what time it was or were using the phone as satnav.

  9. My spouse was nearly run over by a mature, woman cyclist while in the crosswalk. Apparently, he was in her way. Rude!


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