Bike rules and fines in the Netherlands

That I use the bike every day at least two times a day for about six years, is a matter of fact.
It is also a fact that I have the driving license (and I studied the rules twice, since I got also a separated license for the scooter when I was 16).
You’d think I’m settled. But how many times I find myself looking the other biker in the eyes, trying to understand whether he/she’s going to give me the way when I am coming from right, or just to keep the speed because he/she is on the main road?

I’ve therefore decided to get informed.
I’ve found some information online, including also the expected fines for each type of infringement, and I’m sharing it with you!

Basic Rules

1. Bikers should keep the most-right possible position and overtake on the left

Precisely like with cars, riding is on the right and overtaking takes place on the left.
Exceptionally, in case it is indicated that the person in front will turn left, then it is possible to overtake on the right. It is also possible to overtake trams on the right – which I’ve never experienced.
Of course, you should always check the conditions at the moment you plan to overtake (for example if someone behind you already started that move).
What happens to me often, is that I feel overtaking the cars on the right when the traffic on the main road is slow, but I think it doesn’t count since bikers are officially on the red cycle paths.

If you do not keep yourself at the most right possible, or if you do not overtake on the left, you can get a fine of 95 euro.

2. Bikers should make use of the designated cycle path (fietspad)

Pretty natural if you’ve been around for a while in the Netherlands, but maybe not obvious if you have been cycling elsewhere. Here the bike paths connect any place and are really well organized in most of the cases.
Nice addition I’ve learnt by searching these info: you have two types of standing signals that indicate cycle path

Signals. Left: obligatory cycling path (only bikes). Right: voluntarily cycling path (also bikes).

Furthermore, in most of the cases, you’ll recognize the characteristic red color of the path, with white bikes signs sometimes, and dividing line when the traffic is two-way. Thus when such a path is present, do not use the pedestrian path or the main street.
Other means of transport are also allowed on such paths, like scooters – thing that I do not like at all.

When not biking on the cycling path, you could get a fine of 55 euros.

3. Bikers can bike (in pairs) one next to the other

You see this often, and apparently there’s nothing wrong with it. More than two people next two each other are probably not allowed, and in any case bikers should take care of freeing the path when others from the back are ready to overtake.
It’s so nice to bike with friends!

4. Bikers must follow the signals

The hierarchy is standard: authorities (persons) > standing signals > street signals.
The most common one, is stopping when the traffic light is red.
There’s an exception to the stop at the red light, and that’s in case of turning right, when specifically given by a blue sign with the sentence ‘Rechtsaf voor fietsers vrij‘ on it (literally turning right is allowed in any case to bikers).

Not respecting the rules given by the people (traffic controller, police, authorized officers), while not respecting the red at the traffic light can cost you more than 90 euros.

5. Bikers coming from the right, go first

This is particularly the reason why I started searching. In common practice that is definitely not clear, and also when coming from a minor street it seems weird to make people on the major route stop, or at least slow down.
Luckily bikes do not take much space and normally we can also find space side by side.

If you miss to give the way to who’s coming from right, you’ll get a 95 euros fine.

6. Both lights and bell must be working

It’s compulsory to have both front and back light working, and particularly, yellow front light and red back light. Both must not be blinking.
When missing any of them, or not complying with the rules, you can get a fine of 55 euros.
People, there’s a fine, but seriously make sure your lights are working, otherwise cars can’t see you, and it gets very dangerous. I’ve seen an almost-serious accident, and I’ve raised my awareness even more.

But also (I didn’t know!) you must have a properly working bell, with clear sound, otherwise also for this there is a fine of 35 euros. Furthermore, your bike must have red reflectors on the back and white reflectors on the pedals. Also here, a fine of 35 euros in case you miss any of them.

7. Bikers must indicate change of direction

Both at crossings and when stopping at the side, it’s good rule to indicate what you’re going to do.
Raising the arm corresponding to the side you’re going to turn to it’s sufficient to inform other bikers, who should adjust their actions accordingly. It’s a simple action, but helps a lot.
I still remember at a Dutch course the teacher told us that for teenagers at some point indicating the change of direction was ‘not fashion’.
That would cost you 35 euros nowadays!

8. Bikers cannot hold their phones while biking

A recent addition regulates the usage of the smartphones on the bike: these must be in your pocket or in your bag – or you’ll get a fine of 90 euros.
Apparently phones where causing lots of accidents relative to the (bike) traffic. Again, I think we should take care of this both because of the fine, but mainly because of safety reason.

9. Bikers are not required to wear the helmet

Differently from other countries, you are not obliged to wear the helmet.

10. Bikers must be sober

You can’t be under drugs, alcohol (>0.5) or strong medications when biking. Also here you’ll get a fine of about 140 euros.
There’s also a NOS article about this.

11. Bikers can carry other people

Children under age of 8 are carried on the bikes on their seats either at the front or at the back of the bike, but also adults can be transported.
That’s something actually very common (although when I bought my bike they suggested to avoid it because it’s not good for the bike itself)

12. Bikers should always hold the handlebar (at least with one hand)

I couldn’t find the fine related to this, but the rule falls under the safety reason of the bike traffic: without control of your drive, you are a danger for yourself and others.

Drive safely!

Useful websites

I’ve tried to get as much information as possible, but it wasn’t as easy as I expected. For example, I didn’t find the meaning of the wavy mark on the cycling path. Do you know it?

At this website you can find partly what you read in my post, and this redirects you to the official laws (both are in Dutch). The expected fines for 2020 are reported from this website.

By far I’m not claiming this list is complete. Do you have any necessary addition?

Did you know these rules?


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