Amsterdam – the city of approximately 850,000 bikes so of course I had to explore this city using this popular mode of transport!
Now considering I am scared of cycling alongside traffic this was a BIG DEAL for me and certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone. Despite living in Oxford for 3 years I never got a bike and I only rode a Boris bike last year exploring Cable Street so to now explore a new city by bike was exciting and challenging for me.
There are plenty of bike tours and companies within Amsterdam but it always helps to have someone who lives in the city to show you around and get you the best deal. And so my friend Carlos introduced us to Hello Bike – a bike sharing platform that allows you to move around the city with ease.
How does it work?
All you need to get a bike from Hello Bike is a smart phone with mobile data and Bluetooth capabilities, the Hello Bike app downloaded on your phone and a debit/credit card to pay for the bike on the app.
You look up on the app map where the bikes are available for hire and then you can reserve the bike for up to 20 minutes whilst you make your way to get the bike. We were staying in Amsterdam Oud-Zuid on PC Hooftstraat, a shopping street (think London’s Bond Street full of designer shops), named after the Dutch historian, poet and playwright Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft). We took a local tram and picked up our bikes in Beethovenplein which is near the World Trade Center Amsterdam.
The red bikes of Hello Bike are just sitting in their location, not chained to anything but not able to be carried off by Joe Bloggs. I was so impressed by the technology of it all and the ease of getting our bikes. We signed up for a monthly subscription, ensured our Bluetooth was on and to unlock the bike we entered the digits of our desired bike (which is printed on the bike) and through the magic of Bluetooth, you heard a ‘click’ and voila the bike was unlocked for use.
So where did we cycle to first? Hillsong Church – Amsterdam. We needed the prayers for our safety lol! It certainly was a race against time to make it to the morning service given we were all newbies to the bike. I struggled a bit with my bike by getting onto it as the frame was quite big for my lil’ legs. One can adjust the seat of the bike which is great but sadly my small frame still meant my legs dangled from the bike and made my start offs difficult (you should have seen me at traffic lights, I’m sure it was either hilarious or annoying to watch me try to take off each time)
Me practising trying out the bicycle before attempting to take on Amsterdam
What did I think?
Word of warning – the bikes have no brakes in the normal way that one is accustomed to on the handlebars. Instead to break you need to pedal backwards and that makes the bike brake/slow down. This did result in me crashing into my friend at the square beside Westerkerk, the largest church in Amsterdam (so you can imagine a lot of people watching and thus a lot of embarrassment!)
What I loved about Hello Bike is the ability to pause your ride, lock up the bike (again through the Bluetooth) and go off and do what you want with no worry that the bike would be stolen. It really is quite innovative how it locks and renders the bike useless unless unlocked by yourself. I thus, on my cycling around beautiful ‘Dam, was able to pause my session as we rode to make it in time for our Sunday church service (yes we made it! #FISTPUMP), paused for lunch at a delicious Thai restaurant and then paused to take in the delightful Banksy and Dali exhibition at the Moco Museum in Museumplein.
When all was done with exploring Amsterdam we could then drop off our bikes, end our session and cancel our monthly subscription. We dropped it back in Beethovenplein but with Hello Bike you can at any desired Hello Bike parking spot as per its map. I can’t recommend Hello Bike enough to go around Amsterdam. It was only €4 for 12 hours and if you only want to use for an hour it is only €1 – bargain!
Hello beautiful ‘Dam!
Cycling round Amsterdam was so amazing. It truly is a beautiful city and we got to see the amazing architecture,
the picturesque canals,
and cycle through Vondelpark.
What I loved about seeing the city by bike was just truly focusing on my surroundings and enjoying it without the intrusion of trying to capture the city’s essence on my camera. As I always say the best camera are your eyes and they will store the memory vividly!
Living my best life by bicycle,
The 5 to 9 Traveller x
This post was not sponsored and all opinions are my own.