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Photos: Cycling style in Amsterdam

Posted by on June 3rd, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Amsterdam June 1-71

An Amsterdam family dressed to ride.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland

This is part of ongoing coverage of the Green Lane Project/Bikes Belong Netherlands Study Tour.

You’ve probably heard about how in the great European bike cities like Amsterdam people wear “regular clothes” when they ride. I’m not sure what that means to most people; but to me it meant they didn’t were lycra or other special “cycling clothes.” What I didn’t realize is that their clothes are far from “regular”. They ride in some of the most stylish outfits I’ve ever seen on two wheels. People in Copenhagen dressed very well; but the attire in Amsterdam has more panache. I found the styles really amazing. And to see them on people riding bikes was frankly jaw-dropping.

I thought it’d fun to share a selection of images from my Amsterdam photo gallery so you can see what I mean…

1
Amsterdam June 1-14

2
Amsterdam the magnificent-1

3
Amsterdam June 1-16

4
Amsterdam June 1-37

5
Amsterdam June 1-15

6
Amsterdam June 1-38

7
Amsterdam June 1-42

8
Amsterdam June 1-51

9
Amsterdam June 1-25

10
Amsterdam June 1-3

11
Amsterdam June 1-72

12
Amsterdam June 1-73

13
Amsterdam June 1-89

14
Amsterdam June 1-92

15
Amsterdam June 1-98

16
Amsterdam June 1-100

17
Amsterdam June 1-108

18
Amsterdam June 1-102

19
Amsterdam June 1-130

20
Amsterdam June 1-134

21
Amsterdam June 1-136

22
Amsterdam the magnificent-22

23
Amsterdam June 1-140

24
Amsterdam the magnificent-32

25
Amsterdam June 1-101

26
Amsterdam June 1-137

If you like these photos, thank Pro Photo Supply (1112 NW 19th Ave) for loaning me some killer equipment. Then go see more of them in our full Amsterdam photo gallery.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Andrew K
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Andrew K

ok, number 7 cannot be a comfortable way to bike.

Holly Erickson
Guest

Amazing photographs. Thanks for such a fun post! Cheers. Or as they might say in Amsterdam Proost!

Joseph E
Guest

#4: turning across streetcar tests at an angle, while riding between another pair of tracks, and looks as relaxed as if walking down the hall. I doubt I have seen two men as stylish as these at one time in Portland, in any form of transportation.

Dweendaddy
Guest
Dweendaddy

Robert Plant (#25) is in Amsterdam, too?

Spiffy
Guest

#4: not at all worried that the intersection is a maze of oddly angled streetcar tracks…

was carless
Guest
was carless

Interesting. When I was in Amsterdam in 2006, and biked for 4 days throughout the city all times of day, I NEVER saw people dress this nicely!

I think urban populations in general dress 10 times nicer than they used to…

anon
Guest
anon

I don’t understand why people knock lycra and clothes that are specifically designed to make cycling more comfortable. Riding in regular clothes is so sweaty and uncomfortable!

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

Great pics and great style. I would love to experience, but even better would be having more of that culture here.

My 2cents on the social issue in USA and PDX / Vancouver, I will try to talk to folks when I pass them (or rarely when the pass me 🙂 ) but people seem to be surprised that I’d talk to them. Honestly, on the streets bike culture here strikes me as almost impenetrable. Locking up bikes, riding, seeing people at coffee shops I very rarely get any sense that people feel any camaraderie for fellow cyclists. I’d say it is the same in NYC. I haven’t ridden in Seattle in years, and when I did there were so few cyclists, but even then messengers were their own group, and roadies were their own group and people weren’t friendly. When I ride in Spokane and when I lived in Kennewick people on bikes seemed to have solidarity with other riders regardless of bike type. Missoula and Bozeman MT are both just way friendlier all the way around and cycling community didn’t seem more or less gregarious than the rest of the folks, but I often fell in and road with people and met people while out riding in those places. Of course both college towns.

Ben Moore
Guest
Ben Moore

Thanks, Jonathan. These Eruo series reports and pics are really doing a lot to inspire us and help improve the growing bike culture here in the states from the ground up.
The Dutch bikes look cool with the tall quill stems with near zero length stems and the steep rake to the head tubes.

Velograteful
Guest

Great photos. Wait for the Hxxxxx debate…..

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I would like to see this same type of picture set on a rainy day. Bike-specific clothing has some advantages; wet weather riding being one of them.

Banjo!!!!
Guest
Banjo!!!!

I looked hard and didn’t see a single derailleur in these shots, except possibly on the folder in #3. Also, rim brakes seem to be less common. That’s my kind of style…

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I love the relaxed urban style of these riders. On the other hand, I think most of their bikes look like junkers . . . but with bike theft as endemic as it is there, I would be riding a beater too. Derailleurs, pfft, who needs them in a Completely Flat City.

JRB
Guest
JRB

Ho hum, another photo essay and another debate about appropriate bike clothing and appropriate bikes. I do love these essays, and if people want to compliment the style of the riders, rock on. I will continue to ride in bike clothing on my 27 gear touring bike because it works for where, when and how I ride, as does the short dress and high heels for #7 or whatever any of the riders depicted in Jonathan’s essay are wearing and riding.

Vive le difference!

Mike
Guest
Mike

Having lived in Amsterdam and owned both a dutch bike and a bakfiets for the kids, it is different regarding clothing.
1. The Dutch really do dress snazzy. In PDX, not so much.
2. Riding there on a dutch bike with no gears or maybe 3 with an internal hub…these bikes are designed for the flat city short riding at slow speeds. Helmets not necessary. If it rains, you ride with an umbrella up one handed, or some wear a $10 rain suit from the drug store. Kids have a cover over the box. In snow, you wear a scarf, gloves and a hat. So do kids. I got to ride with a kid on the back seat and one on a seat in front of me between the handlebars every day to their school. It’s one of my favorite memories of fatherhood.
3. I ride a lot in PDX now. Ride to work 2-3x/week, and go cycling for thousands of miles outside town every year. I never wear work clothes when riding because I have hills. Big hills, which I love to ride up. I never got much fitness biking in Amsterdam. It’s kind of impossible actually. Here I’m super fit, even my commute gets me 100’s of calories of burn.

They are different. In parts of PDX, it’s very possible to do it Dutch but in others it is not. No reason to argue about it. What we need is the A, B, C approach mentioned by JM in the Utrecht post to address the different types of bike infrastructure needed in different settings. Stop the arguments about separated or not or what to wear. We have an ok start on the core of our city, but it still stinks compared to the Dutch. We have a winner in our “bikeways” around town but lack the major separated pathways needed for type C roads. Those are what everyone in Amsterdam knew and used to get around, they are the backbone and the core reason biking works. Bikelanes are useless on these roads. Bikeways are great for type A and maybe some type B applications. Cycling outside town is not biking as we are talking here and can be made a lower priority for now I think.

We need separated bike tracks on 6 major crisscrosses across town, then everything else will fall in place. I’m fine with a tax to get that done.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Here is a little video we made during our time there…some great bicycle footage in there. Enjoy!

Mike
Guest
Mike
PorterStout
Guest
PorterStout

Awesome bikes, and a lot of them look vintage though that might be just the style. Did anyone else notice there isn’t a dropped-bar among them, visible anywhere in any of the photographs? It’s definitely a different culture.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Jonathan —

I note that 14, 19 and 24 are the only ones panned with a blurred background — do Amsterdamers ride slower than bicyclists in the other cities where you’ve done photoshoots?

Great photos, thanks!

Ted Buehler

marian
Guest
marian

ha ha love it! reminds me of when i had to deliver a cake for the bakery i worked for, wearing a maxi skirt, riding my bike with one hand, holding the giant box.

and when i was in high school, kids from small towns, 10 miles away rode their bikes to school. no lycra, no helmet. and no the kids did not smell.

Matt
Guest
Matt

No one in spandex! Over there, biking is just another way to get around. Here in Portland, it feels like a subculture with an entry fee–spandex and a fancy drop bar roadbike. I know this isn’t entirely true, but it sure feels that way…

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

I rode home from the BTA Alice awards in a dress with a cut similar to that of number 7 (although i did swap out my shoes.). The previous posters are correct in that it was not particularly comfortable, but it beat changing clothes again.

Point is, it is certainly possible. A dressy event doesn’t mean you can’t bike!

Matt
Guest
Matt

Good distinction between commutting and exercise.

kelly
Guest
kelly

what do they do when it’s raining? rains there a lot…they still wear fancy heels then?

Arjen
Guest
Arjen

This is such a funny discussion from a Dutch perspective 🙂

To understand this, just picture the Dutch as being pedestrians with a bike. The Dutch only walk when they didn’t bring their bike. Those people in the pictures probably aren’t commuting at all, but are on their way to a shop, a pub, their friends, a party, school, whatever. Just moving around the city. Would you dress up everytime you got outside to run an errand? I don’t think so.

Sure, for my 10 mi commute I dress up too and wash when I arrive. But for all the other daily trips? no way Jose.

What do you do when it rains? You use an umbrella or put on a raincoat.