Bikes, or ‘fiets’, are the most common mode of transport in the Netherlands, its environmentally friendly, keeps you fit and you are hard-pressed to find somewhere where you cannot go by bike. But there are some rules regarding this convenience.
First of all, bikes ride the same direction the traffic travels (right side), you are required to have a bell and lights and reflectors for when it is dark. If you do not have lights or reflectors you could be fined. You can purchase lights, reflectors and bells for a cheap price from stores such as Hema or Action. It is important to note if you purchase lights which are temporarily fixed to a bike, they often go missing. Another important rule is not to ride a bike while intoxicated. Like driving, if you are found to be riding a bike while intoxicated you could be subject to fine. Also, be aware of where you can and cannot park. This is more for town and city centres but quite often if you do not park your bike in a designated parking zone, alike illegally parking your car, your bike can be impounded, and the process to reclaim your bike can be messy.
We also recommend you purchase a good lock. Most bikes have a rear-wheel lock mounted at the base of the seat, but we recommend you also have a chain lock which allows you secure your bike to something like a pole, bracket or (if allowed) a fence. What is common in The Netherlands is if someone can, they will simply walk off with your bike. This is common and unfortunate.
When riding your bike, it is important to indicate when you are turning, simply raise whichever hand from the handlebar to indicate whether you are turning left or right. Of course, be aware of tramlines, they seem to be everywhere and more dangerous when wet. The important thing to note here is you should cross these directly and not have your tires follow the track where your tires can become trapped. Simply, go across the tracks, not with them.
Like with anything in The Netherlands, there are rules for riding a bike. Holland Cycling has a general guide regarding street signs and what they mean.
If you are looking to buy a great refurbished bike, Student-Helpr recommends cheapassbikes. Unlike many second-hand stores, kringloops (thrift shops) or on Marktplaats, cheapass bikes sells a clean, refurbished bike with a one-month standard warranty. Also, the bike has a serial number which is provided on the invoice which provides you with a proof of ownership, which helps if your bike is stolen or impounded. This option boasts of longevity and sustainability. With Cheapassbikes, you can also pay for your bike in instalments.