light my ride – tonight in Amsterdam

Light my ride

Tonight at 19:30 the Light my ride tour will take place, as part of the Amsterdam Light Festival, starting at the Nieuwmarkt.
It’s a 10 km tour for skaters, bikers and skateboarders that have in some way used lights to illuminate themselves and their meaning of transport. The tour will follow the Amsterdam Light Festival route. This video shows all you want to know. You can still sign up here!

Start: 19:30h – 9th of January 2014
Nieuwmarkt, Amsterdam, 19:30h
Admission: Free (if you don’t have skates, a skateboard or a bike, you can rent a Yellow Bike on the spot)

biking the city, safely

Twee toeristen huren een fiets bij MacBike in Amsterdam.

Spring is in the air, here in Amsterdam, and with all new tourists pouring in and getting on bikes, some basic rules should be kept in mind. Cycling in the city is not complicated if you stick to some basic rules:

-Watch all traffic signs, most are pretty straightforward.
-Stay at the right hand side of the road, not the middle, never the left hand side.
-Don’t cycle too slow: the slower you do it the more you’ll look as a drunk driver.
– Use a route planner for bikers, to find a safe and nice route.
-Beware of trams: they go fast and can be more silent than you think.
-Wait for a red traffic light: locals never do, but you should.
-Don’t bike the sidewalks, pedestrians can get annoyed.
-Taxi’s are your natural enemy!
-If you stop, don’t stay on the street or cycle path. There is too much (fast) traffic over there (and the other bikers will hate you for it 🙂 ).
-Better use the bike for a trip outside the city center. Within, the traffic is quite crowded and you might as well walk: it’s a small area.
Biking in winter can be full of hazards,  it’s warmer and safer to use public transport.

Amsterdam wouldn’t be my city for learning the bike ride, but if you persist, look for a quiet area. For bike hire: look over here. For more safety tips look here.

Amsterdams’ best route planner for bikers

Simple, fast, easy to use: Routecraft. (It took me a few seconds to find the ‘English button” but it’s there.)
It shows the best routes and points out road works, black spots  (intersections where you should pay extra attention) and places worth visiting. You can even calculate how many trees you safe by using your bike instead of a car of bus.
So no more excuses, go biking.

biking in winter

Bikers in Vondelpark Amsterdam

It seems everybody does it in Amsterdam: biking. And why not? It’s fast, cheap and healthy. There are some minor disadvantages though, especially in winter. In the dark months of the year biking can be a cold and wet experience. Still the hard core bikers will continue biking, no matter what ice storm is taking place.

Tourists are more and more using bikes too. They like the experience of moving about the city like a local. And it’s nice. But it is important to keep it safe: don’t think you can bike with your mobile phone in one hand and an umbrella in the other, because we do so. It is risky, even for us and we were born on a bike. When it’s freezing or snowing, don’t go biking. Roads will be slippery and the bridges and tram-rails will be a real pitfall.

Whenever you are in Amsterdam in summer, you should try a bike-trip. Maybe not start in the centre of the city, because traffic is quite crowded over there. Use one of the many bike routes available, they’ll show you nice and safe places to go.

You might need bike-lamps in the evening; they are now for sale in fast food vending machines.

And if you think you’ll forget where you parked your bike, you can use this app.

Have fun biking!

just outside the city center of Amsterdam

photo by Gerda Jansen Hendriks

Six brand new guide books help you to find your way out of the famous Amsterdam city  center to lesser known, but very beautiful and interesting parts of Amsterdam. There is a walking and a cycling version of the tours.
Take a look at this interactive map for a preview, just click on the different colored neighborhoods to see an outline of the tours.
The guide books can be purchased at the vvv tourist offices and an additional audio tour for MP3, iPod or iPhone can be downloaded here.

amsterdam caught in… spring snow?

Photo: springsnow.nl

Yes, springsnow; it’s a common fenomena in Amsterdam, known for ages. From about April 21 to May 21, elm seeds swirl through the air and heep on the streets, just like real snow does. There is so much of the springsnow because of the 75.000 elms that grow in Amsterdam. Though we had this springsnow for a long time, this is the first year there’s an event around the phenomena, containing:

The beautiful Elm Route that takes you on a 8 km tour through Amsterdam, by foot or by bike.
The exhibition ‘Catch the springsnow’ in Hortus Botanicus
A photography and film collection, to which everybody is invited to add work

The Springsnow website, with an overview of all the Springsnow events.