Panorama of Leiden

A Culture of Bikes

“Don’t they lock up their bikes?” Yes, they do, but often in a way we don’t recognize. See the keys dangling between the rear tire and the seat post? They are in a spring-loaded tire lock. With a twist of the key, a metal hoop encircles the tire, preventing the bike from rolling. For quick stops, this is an easy way of securing your bike without a chain or bike rack. The keys stay in while the lock is open. Now you know what to look for, watch for them in the rest of this gallery.
For longer parking, chains and u-locks are commonly used. In this bike parking structure at the central train station, we can see both at work. Regular train commuters may have a bike at both ends of their train ride. Stations often have bike rental shops as well. With the purchase of a bike ticket, you can take your ride onto the train, but not during rush hour.
While there’s parking for thousands of bikes at the train station, there are ZERO car parking spots. There are a variety of bike parking options, both guarded (seen in the film) and unguarded. Some cyclists may choose to belong to a parking “club” like this one.
Others may choose to options more open to the environment.
Dense clusters of parked bikes often appear in commercial areas. These are parked in front of Hogvliet, a supermarket that also has car parking above the store. So, yes, it is possible to load up your car at the supermarket, even in the heart of town.
Here’s another example in the Allmarkt, the main market area in the center of town. Note the building on the right, it’s the V&D (Vay and Day) a multi-floor department store. Recently, the V&D built an underground bike parking structure to accommodate cyclists and improve window shopping.
Bikes are everywhere in Leiden. Take note of the power scooter in this shot. These are becoming quite popular for those with mobility limitations. Also notice the plastic bag covering the seat of the bike in the foreground, a common sight in a rainy country.
Geen Fiesten Plaatsen - No bike parking, a common sign around town, but not always followed.
Some find parked bikes annoying, this signs says “Bikes parked against this house will be thrown in the canal”
A bike pulled from the canal after a lengthy visit. Sometimes this is the end result of college students pranking each other. When the canals are dredged, bikes are often pulled up from the muck. It’s a good idea not to jump into a canal from a bridge, as drowned bikes can be a hazard if you go too deep.
There’s an order to the chaos; pedestrians above bikes, bikes above cars. The slower your mode of transport, the more right of way you have.
The Dutch try to make cycling safe and on streets with heavy car traffic they often use protected bike lanes.
In some instances, bike only routes are established. This one cuts through a park at the base of a large windmill named De Valk (The Falcon).
Motorized scooters often make use of bike lanes.
Riding while talking on the cellphone can increase risks.
But, texting while riding is likely more dangerous.
Riding doubled up is a common sight. To get over steep bridges, the passenger will often hop off, walk over the bridge, then hop back on while the bike is still moving; a very graceful maneuver when executed well, a moment of humor when not.
Doubling up is not only for the young.
Couples riding hand in hand is a regular sight as well.
Need to move a bike while riding a bike? Not a problem.
Kids often take the back seat to parents.
But not always.
Sometimes kids go both front and back.
A family outing; there’s even an infant in a car seat in the front.
Going to a fancy concert? Take your bike!
Personalizing bikes is common; looks good and makes it easier to find amongst all those others. Adding plastic flowers is a favorite way to go.
Carrying things while riding is very common. From flowers to Christmas trees, if you can hold onto it, you can bicycle with it.
Cycling in the Netherlands is a year-round thing. The convenience of cycling often outweighs the discomfort of riding in rain or even snow.