7 types of cyclists found when biking in the Netherlands

We can guarantee that if there is one element of Dutch culture that’s bound to inflict some form of culture shock on the unsuspecting international — it’s the cycling culture.

More specifically, it’s the people attached to the bikes. Sometimes carelessly, sometimes barely so, sometimes seeming to defy the laws of physics.

Not sure what exactly we’re talking about? Allow us to run through the seven types of cyclists you are bound to encounter during your cycling career in the Netherlands. 

7. The flying Dutchman 

These are the most common species of cyclist that you will encounter on the cycle path. I wouldn’t be surprised if these Dutchies came out of the womb on a bike: cycling is so deeply ingrained in their nature. 

For this reason, they will happily whizz past you at an uncomfortably close distance without bearing in mind that their actions may convince you that both of you are about to crash horrifically.

As your life flashes before your eyes, the flying Dutchman will have already manoeuvred their way around you. They may even throw you a glance over their shoulderwhich says “what the hell are you screaming for??” as they swoop away into the horizon. 

6. The speedy McBreezy

Sometimes you’re in the way of something VERY IMPORTANT. Image: Coen Van De Broek/Unsplash.

Not to be confused with the flying Dutchmen, these cyclists will have passed around you so quickly that you wouldn’t even have time for your fight or flight to kick in. 

In fact, apart from the streak of lycra and the odd muffin top that swoops through your peripheral vision, the only indicator of their presence is the occasional huff in your direction. Because a city cycle path is, OF COURSE, the place to beat their personal best. 🙆‍♀️

5. The clingy couples 

Most terrifying of all cycling species are this duo. From a distance on a poorly lit night, these figures look like something from a horror film. 

To be fair, the silhouette of two people holding hands while on bikes can be truly horrifying for those new to cycling. You never know what the protocol is for these situations. It seems that these two have no intention of detaching from one another as they cycle closer and closer to you. Do you give way to them? Or cycle on resolutely, hurtling towards them like the newest conflict in their relationship?

Perhaps this is the true test of a Dutch relationship, will they chicken out last minute and detach from one another? Or succeed and decapitate a poor bamboozled international. 

4. The international newbies 

Dead giveaways include: watching their feet, slow cycling, failing to signal. Image: Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash.

Of course, us internationals are no angels on the cycle paths either. In fact, we can be quite a nuisance, especially if we are just stopping by for a flying visit in the Netherlands. You know what I am talking about — those tourists who cycle at a dangerously slow pace while attempting to hold a selfie stick.

My superiority complex really kicks in as I overtake these folks. “Absolute newbs,” I tell myself as I fail to signal my left turn for the 550th time. 

3. The seasoned international (you wish)

They are everything you wish to be. Almost indiscernible from Dutchies, these internationals glide down the cycle paths ease. It’s as if they too were plucked from the womb and placed on a bike. 

The only indication that they are expats may be a light international accent as they curse you out in Dutch. You have a moment of realising, “hey, they’re like me!” and “oh wow, their Dutch is good” before the offence kicks in. 😅

2. The brave bakfietsers 

They also somehow manage to make a massive bucket look light? Image: FaceMePLS/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

We don’t know who is braver, the person cycling with a bucket full of children strapped to the front of their bike, or the children. 

If I were told to place a precious and fragile bundle of youth in a bucket on the front of my bike, I would have worrying flashbacks to the time I nearly threw myself and my bike under a lorry or the time I was standing a little too close to the bus. 

Then again, those who undertake this task have probably entered the final stage of the cyclist’s evolutionary trajectory. 

1. The tiny tots 

Why be sad when you can just look at this tiny cyclist. Image: Tatiana Syrikova/Pexels

These little darlings shouldn’t trigger your fight or flight response — unless you mistake them for a Chucky doll on wheels, in which case you need to lay off on the psychedelics. 

The serotonin boost that results from spotting a tiny tot teetering along on an equally tiny bike is undeniable. These little angels can hold up the cycle path for us any day. We’re pretty sure even the speedy cyclists wouldn’t be mad.

Cycling in the Netherlands comes with both challenges and perks, can you think of any other interesting characters? Let us know in the comments below! 

Feature Image: Norali Nayla/ Unsplash
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in October 2020, and was fully updated in July 2021 for your reading pleasure. 

Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.

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  1. Nr. 8 should be the mother on her bike with a child sitting on a childseat hanging from the steering wheel, another child on a seat behind her and 2 shopping bags hanging from the steering wheel.

  2. No 8. The cycle klootzak who doesn’t care that they are breaking the law by going through red lights, pedestrian crosswalks, and pedestrian-only areas. Half of all Dutchies are No 8. They will also swear when confronted by their illegal actions and sometimes threaten violence. They will claim this is Dutch “directness.” In fact, it’s rude, illegal, and dangerous, Time to start a campaign to get cyclists to obey the rules of the road.

  3. The dad cycling with a child standing on the rack behind him.

    Couple riding together, she’s side saddle on the back rack with her legs taking up the rest of the bike pack.

    And my personal favorite: a herd of teenagers or tweens on bikes, usually four across and four deep, all talking and cycling slower than you want to go. Watch out especially around 3 pm on weekdays.

    But don’t confuse the above with a similar 4×4 group of cycling chatting old men on a Sunday afternoon!

    The abo


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