All you need to know about keeping your bike safe and secure
In a country where bikes outnumber citizens you might think the the greatest collective concern in the Netherlands is that the humans will be overthrown by an uprising from their two-wheeled companions. Think again. Bikes are friendly and reliable creatures, whereas their human counterparts are prone to all sorts of sneaky business.
Bikes change hands in Amsterdam every day, and not all of these are honest transfers. Up to 80,000 bicycles are stolen each year in the city, but there’s a few simple precautions to ensure you don’t become part of the statistic.
#1 Lock it up!
YourCityBike equips every bicycle with two locks. A ring lock makes it impossible to move the back wheel or steal it from the frame, whilst a hardened steel chain enables you to attach the bike to something immovable.
Turn the key on the ring lock as you slide the lever down to lock the rear wheel.
Feed the chain through the front wheel, the frame, and your chosen anchor for maximum security.
Oh, and don’t forget to turn the key and take it with you – that helps too.
#2 Choose a good spot
I’ve seen bikes leaning against bollards, attached to bushes, or even guarded by a dog leashed up to the handle bars. Unless you’ve got a particularly vicious dog, a very thorny bush, or an extremely high bollard, these aren’t going to stop the sneaky bike thieves.
The best place to leave your bike is in one of the special cycle racks around the city. You’ve got over 200,000 to choose from. Not only do these offer strength in numbers, but they also allow you to slot your bike into a stable docking point. This keeps the bike out of the way of traffic and pedestrians, and stops it being pushed around and scratched.
If you’re looking for a typical Amsterdam challenge, then have a go with the two-storey bike parks. These are often found next to stations. They take a little strength and a reasonably Dutch stature to operate, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be rolling your bike up the ramp and sending it to its vantage point.
Pro tip: take a picture of the rack number, as it’s easy to forget where you left it!
There’s also 8 free dedicated bicycle parking garages around the city. These offer maximum security, and ensure your saddle will be nice and dry when you take to the road again.
What if you’re in a tearing hurry, and you really can’t find a special bike rack? Best bet is to use your brain to think about where’s best to leave it. The idea is to lock it to something stronger than a human can break or higher than a human can lift. But bear in mind ‘The Forbidden Zone’ (see below).
#3 Where not to leave your bike
Whilst cycling is allowed – and encouraged – on almost every street in Amsterdam, there are one or two places you’re not welcome on two wheels.
The main street you need to be aware of starts in Leidseplein, and works its way up past Rembrandtplein, Dam Square, all the way to Central Station. There are blue signs with two white stickmen holding hands, making out these pedestrian-only areas. This street can also be noticed by the fact there really isn’t any space to cycle. There are no handy bike paths, just two lanes of trams and pavements overflowing with shoppers.
Parking your bike along this route in anything other than one of the special bike racks will put you in peril. The City keep their beady eye on all cycling in this area. If they notice the rules being flaunted, they will cut your lock and throw your bike in the back of a van without even giving you the chance to say goodbye. Avoid this indignity by obeying signs and sticking to the proper bike racks. Look after your bike and it will look after you!
#4 Remember where you left it
I see it every day. The lost puppy expression of the would-be cyclist, key in hand, feverishly searching and re-searching the same spot to find their trusty steed. We’ve all been there.
Chances are, it hasn’t been stolen, you just need to look harder. Avoid this by familiarising yourself with the bike’s surroundings before you leave it. Be aware things will look different in the night and when bikes swap places.
The best way to avoid this tedious and embarrassing hunt is to take a picture of where you left it… Especially if your memory is prone to haziness under the influence of beer.
#5 Follow the rules and signs
Most of these are universal – red means stop, green means go. A big red sign with a while line in the middle means no entry, uitgezonderd means ‘except for’. The little stickmen holding hands means pedestrians only, and the white bike on a blue background means there is a compulsory cycle path. Not rocket science, but we’ve got a useful guide for all you need to know about the traffic signs for more information.
Don't worry, we're here to help
At YourCityBike, our high quality bikes are going to catch the notice of thieves. But, don’t worry! Due to out bicycle security features and the theft-prevention tips we give you, incidents of theft are rare. Just make sure you follow our advice and you can be sure your mechanical companion will stick by you.
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