Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Header image University of Groningen Student Blog

7 fun facts about bikes in the Netherlands

Date:22 May 2024
Hylke smiling in between many many many bikes.
Hylke smiling in between many many many bikes.

One thing the Netherlands has a lot of is bikes. No matter where you go, you can’t escape them - they are everywhere. In light of World Bicycle Day, we gathered the most interesting fun facts you might not know about bikes in the Netherlands. Enjoy! :)

#1 The Netherlands wasn’t always a bicycle country

From 1900 onwards, the Dutchies’ love for bicycles has grown. Slowly but surely, more bicycles were produced, bicycle paths were developed, and rules for bicycles were established. However, it was not until the 1970s that the Netherlands truly became a bicycle country. During this time, cyclists explicitly asked for more bicycle paths and better regulations because there had been a lot of accidents between cyclists and cars as car traffic was also increasing. This resulted in the Dutch biking culture we know today. Now, the country’s road structure is adjusted to bikers instead of cars, and bikers can bike around happily and safely!

#2 There are more bikes than people in the Netherlands

Say what!? According to statistics, there are 23.9 million bicycles in the country compared to only 17.9 million inhabitants. This is probably because many Dutchies have more bikes than just one. Lots of Dutch students, for example, have a bicycle they use in Groningen and one they use at home. The more you know.

#3 Dutch children need to complete an official bicycle exam

If you’re not Dutch, you might think I’m joking, but no, it’s true! Dutch children in grade 5 and 6 need to complete a theoretical exam with questions on traffic, and a practical exam where they cycle a certain route and have to show what they learned during the theoretical exam. Beforehand, they also have to check if their bikes are safe and everything is in order. Most already have years of cycling experience, so while they might be nervous (I remember I definitely was), it’s actually pretty easy! 

#4 People use bikes to transport everything (literally, EVERYTHING)

After having lived in Groningen for some time, nothing surprises me anymore. I have seen it all: students who transport chairs, suitcases, friends (on the back of the bike or on the front), and even a whole couch with their bikes! Cycling in the Netherlands certainly never gets boring. ;)

#5 The omafiets [grandma bike] is not inherently Dutch

You might think that your trusty omafiets is of Dutch origin (at least, I thought so), but this style of bike is actually of English origin. The omafiets is, in fact, an English roadster - to be specific a ladies’ roadster -  because it has skirt-protectors and mudguards. During the 20th century, the bike went out of fashion in England and other parts of Europe, but remained extremely popular in the Netherlands, which is why we now think that our omafiets is Dutch. Some people even call it a Dutch bike sometimes!

#6 Bikers don’t have to wear a helmet 

This might also surprise many people (especially because Dutch people are quite daring cyclists), but you actually don’t need to wear a helmet while biking. That is, if you don’t ride a so-called speed pedelec that can go up to 45 kilometres per hour.

#7 Cycling makes you happy

It is proven that people who cycle to work or university every day are likely to be more satisfied with their life. They are way more relaxed, less stressed, and experience more freedom than people who, for example, drive their car from one place to another. It is also better for the environment! Even more reason to start cycling everywhere, right? ;)

Hopefully, some of these fun facts did actually surprise you. Now that you know a little more about bikes, you can impress your friends with them. If you have another interesting fact about bikes let us know in the comments. For now, enjoy your bike ride!

About the author


Hiya! I’m Hylke, a Dutch MA English Literature student. People often ask me if I’m Frisian, but sadly I’m not; I just have a Frisian name. I love reading, writing, meeting with friends, and the colour yellow, so much so that I take pictures of every yellow wall I can find!


Loading comments...