18 Mar Bikes in Amsterdam: where to get one & how to keep it

Bike racks for student bikes at the Faculty of Science of the UvA in AmsterdamBicycle shed at the Faculty. Photo: Maarten Post

A bicycle is essential for every student living in Amsterdam: you simply can’t without one. There are over 850,000 bikes in Amsterdam! Read on for some tips to get a bike for a student-price and to keep your bike yours.

Use your network
Ask friends, family and neighbours whether they might have an old bike left, or use social media to spread your need for a bike. Perhaps that wreck of a bicycle back in the shed of your aunt will be your best friend during your student life. It’s the easiest and probably the cheapest way!

Marktplaats is the nicest website to sell and buy goods. You can look for offered second hand bicycles in your neighbourhood by using the distance search criteria. To check whether you are not buying a stolen bike, you can always check the theft register. There is also an mobile app available for that, called ‘fietsdiefstal’.

Bicycle-auction of the ASVA studentenunie
ASVA is an organization for all students of Amsterdam that sells the cheapest legal (€60) bicycles of Amsterdam. This sale takes place every Thursday at 12.45 p.m. The bike you buy is registered against theft and you get bicycle lights for free. Be aware: you also need to be or become a ASVA member (€10-15).

Park it right
Don’t park your bike at the same place for a long time or at places where it is not allowed. Wrong parked bikes are towed away and stored at the ‘Fietsdepot’. So just park your bike in the bike racks or within the marked areas: it will save you a long travel to the Westelijk Havengebied, an annoying search and also €10. Believe me, I’ve been there.

The ventil trick
This is definitely the best trick against bicycle theft: turn the wheel in such a way that the ventil is as close to your lock as possible. Why? In this way, it is almost impossible to steal the bike without damaging the ventil. A broken ventil means a flat tire, and why would someone break the object of desire, in the process of getting it? I needed some time to make it my routine, but now it has become an automatism!


Trick students use against bicycle theft in Amsterdam

The ventil trick. Photo: Lotte van Woudenberg


Always lock your bike up twice
Remember: All locks can be broken, the one thing you must do is raise the threshold for thieves to actually break it (it’s like freaking science!). So always lock your bike up with two locks at least. For example: one regular lock through your rear wheel and a chain lock to attach your bike to a bicycle rack or another fixed object. A tip for buying a chain lock: choose one with a very long chain! That way, you probably are always able to lock your bicycle to a fixed object, also when bike racks are crowded (which they often are).

Pimp it!
You need to find your bike back in the rows of hundreds of bicycles of which Amsterdam is known for. Make your bike recognizable! A coloured plastic bag on the saddle or a funny bicycle bell can help a lot, when don’t remember where you have put your bike in the ‘fietsflat’ at Amsterdam Central Station. It also helps me a lot when I’m gazing through bicycle racks at the Faculty itself. Online you can find enough inspiration to pimp your bicycle. Another option is to go all the way and give your bike your favourite colour with spray paint. It may also prevent theft, because it makes your bike frightening recognizable.

Bicycle tattoo
Engrave your bicycle to make it recognizable and traceable at the same time! Many lost bicycles are being returned to their owner with help of the ‘bicycle tattoo’. Engraving your bike is free during several ‘graveeracties’ organised by the town of Amsterdam. Please let me know if you have some essential tips to get a bike for a student-price or to keep your bike yours!


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WTF lotte

WTF lotte

Master student Biomolecular Neuroscience
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