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Eurogates

How to survive Dutch traffic

22 December 2006, 11:30

One of the first things you have to adjust to when coming to live in the Netherlands is the bikes. There are bikes everywhere and it seems to be the preferred means of transportation.

One of the first things you have to adjust to when coming to live in the Netherlands is the bikes. There are bikes everywhere and it seems to be the preferred means of transportation. Everybody, kids going to school, moms with small children, and even grandpa going to his favourite bench in the park, rides a bike. Last but not least, students also ride bikes. So there is really no choice for a newly-arrived exchange student - buy a bike and start riding!

I'm pretty lucky in this respect, compared to many other exchange students, because I'm actually used to ride a bike to my university in Denmark - most of the time. Maybe the fact that I'm already used to going by bike makes it more difficult to learn to survive Dutch traffic. I already have my habits and know most of the traffic rules in Denmark.

It is illegal, for example, in Denmark to ride with two people on a bike. Clearly, this isn't the case here in the Netherlands, because it is common practice. I also know that is it illegal to cycle when you are drunk in Denmark, it might even affect your driving licence, but is it also illegal in the Netherlands? If it is, I'm guilty! Another thing I'm not quite sure of is the rules for crossroads without any give-way markings. Should I yield to the cars? Should they yield to me? Or should I yield to the traffic coming from the right? Very confusing!

Another thing which has puzzled me is that Dutch people seem very impatient in traffic. People on bikes ring their bell because I'm going too slow; cars honk at me because I'm in the wrong place; and one guy even hit me with his umbrella because I was apparently walking on the bike path.

Well, I can conclude one thing. I'm still alive after more than a month of participating in Dutch traffic. I'm slowly adjusting to the Dutch rules and I have even discovered the best route to the university and the city centre. The big question is, can I survive in Danish traffic when I return to Denmark after Christmas?

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