All you need to know about Dutch traffic signs for cyclists
Right, so we’re not going to patronise you by telling you red means stop and green means go (whoops). Most traffic signs for bikes in Amsterdam are pretty universal, but in a city dominated by the bicycle there’s a few that catch visitors out. So instead of having to brake sharply at an intersection as you try to google translate ‘uitgezonderd’ before the traffic catches up with you, prepare yourself for the Dutch highway code with this handy guide to biking road signs.
#1 Optional Cycle Lane
We’ll start you off with an easy one. This sign marks out cycle paths: fiets = bike, pad = path – not a bad place to start with your Dutch learning. This sign means that you are allowed to use the bike lane next to the sign or the road running parallel. It’s usually more pleasant to stick to the cycle lane – especially in this case where the other option is a marshy field – but this friendly sign gives you freedom to choose.
#2 Compulsory Cycle Lane
Unlike the sign above, this one tells you that you must use the cycle lane provided. It will usually appear next to a busy or fast road – which, truth be told, wouldn’t be much fun on two wheels. So save the car horns and stick to the cycle lane.
#3 No access for bikes of slow vehicles
In the Netherlands, slow vehicles are not allowed on main roads. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how fast you can pedal or how streamlined your lycra is. As a cyclist, you’re a slow vehicle. Fortunately, most of these fast roads have a bike path just next to them, which is much nicer. So whether you’re on your moped, bicycle, or taking your tractor out for a leisurely trundle, don’t do it on these roads.
Here we have our first mention of ‘uitgezonderd’ (except for) – something you’ll be seeing a lot as you bike around town.
This sign almost always accompanies another sign. It means the other sign (no entry, one way etc.) does not apply to bikes.
#5 Bikes must be left in Bike Racks
If you come across this sign and want to lock up your bike, you must do so in one of the special cycle racks. If you don’t, then someone from the City will pounce on your bike with their disc saw faster than you can say uitgezonderd (which, admittedly, probably isn’t very fast), cut your lock and put your bike in the back of their van. You have been warned!
You’ll see this sign around pedestrian-only areas – especially in ‘The Forbidden Zone’. Watch out in particular for the areas around Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein, Dam Square, and Centraal Station. Have a glance at our blog on bike security for more info.
#6 Pedestrian Only Area
This tells you you’re in pedestrian territory. Cycling here can earn you a fine or an angry yell. Hop off and wheel your bike down these roads, unless you can see a cycle lane. Like the above sign, you’ll see this one a lot in the forbidden zone.
#7 No entry
The red sign with the white line indicates a very clear ‘no entry’ message. However, it is often accompanied by the white sign below. This combination tells you the ‘no entry’ does not apply to cyclists, so you are free to go ahead. Just be aware that cars and other bikes will be coming from the other direction, so keep a look out and stay tucked in to the right.
#8 One Way
Another nice, friendly sign. This tells you it is a one-way street for cars, but that bikes will be going in both directions. You’re free to go either way down this road.
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