The Dangers of Cycling in The Netherlands

Cycling in The Netherlands

Since I can occasionally be a very accident prone person it might seem like an unwise idea for me to own a Fiets (bicycle) as a primary mode of transport. However, when I first moved to Holland it quickly became clear that I would require one in order to blend in with the locals who like to terrorise pedestrians and jump traffic lights at every given opportunity.

I did not have to look far for my two wheeled transport since my company was nice enough to give me one for free. However, they did not provide any training wheels or cycling lessons.

While riding my bicycle for the first time, I realized that the breaks were not situated on the handles where I was used to seeing them. This coursed a bit of a problem since one of the things you need to do quite often when riding a bicycle is stop. I soon discovered where the brakes were hidden when it was time to stop. By that I mean I discovered where they were after screaming, “Where are the brakes,” and crashing into a near by wall a few seconds later.

Afterwards, I was informed that to break all I had to do was push backwards on the pedals. This took a few attempts where I nearly launched myself over the handle bars before I was used to it.

I’m happy to say that I have not had any similar experiences while riding my bicycle since… until today.

As I cycled to the train station this morning along my usual rout I turned a corner to suddenly and unexpectedly be confronted with a street blocked by road works. I was already too close and peddling too fast to stop in time. I had no choice but to try and make it through to the other side.

I skilfully swerved to the left and avoided falling into the first pit. Then I daringly dodged to the right and just missed a collision with a road sign. Finally, I quickly jumped over the second pit and landed smoothly and safely on the other side. I looked back as my heart raced and I continued to peddle, amazed that I had made it through with such skill. It had been a spectacular display of daring stunts and acrobatics that would have made Evil Knievel jealous.

Then I looked back in the direction I was going, screamed like a girl and nearly decapitated by riding into the PVC tape barrier that was blocking the other end of the work site. Luckily the tape snapped before it catapulted me backwards off my bike and into one of the pits.

Maybe owning a bicycle is not such a good idea after all.

28 responses to “The Dangers of Cycling in The Netherlands”

  1. Wezz6400 says:

    Not caring about road construction and driving right through (too late to brake, uhuh :P ) is wat truly makes you Dutch. ;)

  2. Stavanger says:

    Maybe you need a two rider bike for someone to guide you along or maybe unicycle for better stunts. I heard the less wheel they have the safe it is.

    By the way Stu can you put a link to the comments on each individual post page as well? Thanks.

  3. roxanne says:

    Eeek!! Better luck next time (or maybe someone should just confiscate your bike now and do you a favor :P )

  4. BlondebutBright says:

    Once I road directly into a major construction site on Dam Square. I have no idea how – well, it was dark, it was (ehem) late – but still pretty unbelievable in such an open space. A bunch of kids were walking by and they only laughed at me and I struggled to get back to solid ground. It was a lonely night…

  5. BlondebutBright says:

    I meant “rode” – wow, it must have been traumatic!

  6. Invader Stu says:

    Wezz6400 – Then I am finally blending in :)

    Stavanger – That’s a bug that I have to try and work out. I’ll take a look at it this week. Thanks for the reminder.

    roxanne – Even with out it I’ll find other situations to get myself into it :p

    BlondebutBright – We could form a group for people who have be suddenly and unexpectedly caught out by road works while riding their bike.

  7. zed says:

    i have still not got over the time when i fell into a ditch full of muddy water, my bike still inbetween my legs. one of my daughters grabbed my only clean hand and yanked me out while Q and todd cycled on further before stopping to burst into fits of laughter – thinking that they were out of earshot.

  8. Tess says:

    Oh well done! You’ve managed to survive Dutch roadworks, I miss it already… :9

    You could earn the ‘medal for Dutch Courage’ if you’ve done this without wearing the silly cycle helmet… but I reckon you were wearing one judging from the drawing? *watje… :9*

    [I was suprised to see all the roadworks last week all over Amsterdam, never ending story!]

  9. Dragon lady says:

    At least you can ride a bike. Do you remeber my feeble attempt at trying to ride a bike that was way to big for me. For those that don’t know me I am only 4ft 11inch and the handle bars came up under my chin. I can ride a little (childs bike) but the Dutch won’t hire one to an adult. Maybe I’ll have to get one of those scooters I saw for hire in Amsterdam, but maybe not. I’m nearly as accident prone as Stuart.

  10. Deadpoolite says:

    I guess you wont be dropping the day job to become a stuntman anytime soon then, lol.

    By the way, I now tag you for the “8 things about me” topic (just finished my version of it and let me tell you it took a lot out of me, lol, well not really, heh) that has been brutally enforced upon me as well. You can do it Stu, just stay off the bike and keep typing:)

    Later dude!

  11. sophie says:

    haha it seems to have been an hero-action!! especially after seeing the works in amsterdam last week, my god your life was in danger!!!
    i definitively LOVE your comic, it’s so funny!! (sorry, spanish enthusiasm :-9)

  12. Emiel says:

    When I moved to the US with my parents (many years ago when I was a kid), I took my Dutch bike with me. It had brakes on the handlebars. An American friend of mine tried out the bike and just used the front brake. The frontwheel locked and the rear end of the bike became airborne; in other words: the bike flipped over. I felt so guilty towards my friend, but he survived OK.

    I don’t mean to sound cruel, but I think it’s a good idea for you to have a bike in Holland. It provides us with some very entertaining stories, doesn’t it? ;) Although, I obviously don’t wish you to hurt yourself…

  13. ChickyBabe says:

    Very descriptive Stu! Feels like I was gong on a ride with you, a bicycle ride… don’t get funny ideas! :P

  14. be.bart says:

    Those tapes are LETAL! They should put a warning sign in front of them, saying there’s warning tape ahead. Or dig a ditch in front of them, so you can’t get stuck into the tape.

  15. Invader Stu says:

    zed – Did you hunt them down afterwards? :p

    Tess – I didn’t have a helmet so I would like my medal now please :p
    (You should have seen it two months ago. It was a lot worse)

    Dragon lady – It runs in the family.

    Deadpoolite – Thanks but I already did that one last year.

    Sophie – If you had been here two months before you would have seen a lot more road works. I think they are trying to re-build the whole of Amsterdam.

    Emiel – I’ve flipped my bike over before as well but that was back when I was a kid. In my mind I remember being thrown for a long distance but it could not have been that bad because I don’t remember being hurt either.

    ChickyBabe – What ideas would that be? *pull innocent face*

    be.bart – An electric fence in front of it would do the trick.

  16. Tess says:

    No helmet, wow…, you are becoming a true Dutch cyclist then! You deserve the medal… *attach it to clothes*

  17. zed says:

    stu – they still live with me …. but i don’t wear a helmet either. i would if i could be arsed to cycle into work, but that would involve a gas mask as well. oh, it’s quite far away for a teletubbie like me.

  18. suus says:

    Hey, first time I came across this blog, and I like it a lot. Also the pictures of Haarlem are cool. Only via photo’s like these, I realise that my hometown isn’t so bad after all :)

  19. Dragon lady says:

    Suus Your home town Haarlem is beautiful. Stuarts Dad and I will really miss staying there. But then its beautifull where Stuart lives now as well and we can always visit Haarlem (especially V&D for dutch apple cake) note I must learn to spell the place where Stuart lives now.

  20. Invader Stu says:

    Tess – I will wear it with pride.

    Suus – Haarlem is a great place. I lived there for a few years and really liked it.

  21. Ash says:

    I wish I had a bike. Then I could blend in with the locals and drive around town really fast…

    … Luckily it only takes less than 10 mins to walk anywhere in this town!

    But still.

  22. tenakalaz says:

    damn just realised I hadn’t commented on this post…….

  23. Tess says:

    Hey what’s up? That deadline in Aug. can’t be that killing hey?… :9

  24. Invader Stu says:

    Ash – Do they use bikes a lot out there?

    Tenakalaz – Just in time :p

    Tess – Do you miss me that badily? :p

  25. Ashlee says:

    Omigosh!!! I had nearly an identical experience with a backpedal braking bike last week that I blogged about.

    I am still in a great deal of pain!

    I found you blog off Tokyo Girls… it is great, the layout is fantastic!! I will definately be coming back to visit, good luck with bike related pain recovery.

  26. Invader Stu says:

    Ashlee – Ouch. It sounds like you came off a little worse for wear then me :p

  27. hannyb says:

    I got here (a few years too late) via A Touch of Dutch’s “Top 5 Stu Posts”. Laughingly read it out to Jase saying, “That sounds familiar,” and he replied, “I wonder if he said ‘Shiiiiiiiiiiit’ too,” which is, indeed, what I yelled as my backpedalling failed to engage the breaks and I careened into a tree. See you Friday! :)

  28. Invader Stu says:

    I have a whole list of swear words I use the many times this has happened. Shit is at the top of the list :)

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