Dutch Quirk #125: Throw bikes into canals (usually while drunk)

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #125: Throw bikes into canals (usually while drunk)

Canals, bikes, and drinking are three essential pillars of Dutch living. But if you combine the three

…it’s dangerously easy for a bike (or two) to end up on the bottom of a gracht (canal). 😳

What is it?

Bikes are everywhere in the Netherlands. They dominate the roads, are locked to canal ledges, and pile up to the thousands on bike racks. 🚲

Oh, and many of them eke out a miserable existence on the bottom of Dutch canals. Say, what?

In Amsterdam alone, an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 bikes end up at the bottom of the 165 canals crisscrossing the city.

Why on earth would all these lovely fietsen (bikes) end up in the water?

Well, we can always blame the Dutch winds, which have a bad habit of blowing unlocked bikes over the edge of the road and into canals.

However, most notoriously, the Dutch have a habit of throwing bikes into canals after their fifth or sixth Heineken.

Why do they do it?

The simple and unsatisfactory answer is vandalism.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #45: Pee in the canal when drunk — and fall in

Apparently, it’s not uncommon for the following thoughts to cross the mind of any inebriated drunkard roaming the streets of a Dutch city: “Bikes. Canals. Let’s throw ’em in. Fun.”

A row of potential victims! Image: Depositphotos

Another reason for helpless bikes to be thrown into canals is laziness.

For example, if you’re moving away you can either sell your bike or bring it to a recycling plant.

For many, that’s too much of a hassle. So, what do they do? Exactly.


Why is it quirky? 

The funny thing is, that some Dutch municipalities employ people especially to operate vehicles designed to pull bikes out of the canals.

That’s important because, without them, the bikes would build up and eventually block boats or entire canal passages.

And what happens with the rusty, algae-invested bikes? They’re brought to a recycling plant, where there are turned into beer and soda cans.

Ha. The cycle of life.

Should you join in? 

No! Absolutely not. Don’t throw bikes into the canals.

If it’s someone else’s bike, it’s a crime. And if it’s your own, it’s still vandalism and pollution.

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara moved to the Netherlands at fifteen and she is here to stay! After all, there is so much to love about it, except maybe the bread (as every German will tell you). Next to finishing up her bachelor's degree in European politics (dry), Cara loves to do yoga, swim, and cook delicious veggie food.


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