Do you need a bicycle to survive?
Amsterdam is par excellence city for biking, but do you really need one if you are coming here to study? Are there any alternatives? Read what our blogger Daria has to say about this topic.
Living in the Netherlands is often associated with riding a bicycle - it is the only country with more bicycles than people. Indeed, the Dutch have a very well-developed infrastructure for cycling, and it seems that every resident has a bike and uses it regularly. That is why international students who have limited or no experience with cycling may worry about it when coming to the Netherlands. But do you actually need a bicycle to survive?
Long story short, the answer is… No!
Amsterdam has a wide public transportation system, and you can easily travel around without a bicycle - metro, trains, buses, and trams are at your service. But, of course, there are nuances you need to know.
First, metro and trains often go at intervals of 10-20 minutes, and they can be suddenly delayed or canceled. Besides, public transport does not run throughout the whole night, which can be an issue if you want to have a night out. You should always keep it in mind when you plan your route. Luckily, mobile apps like NS, 9292, or GVB can help you with that.
Second, the transport is not very cheap. One way from Amsterdam Central Station to Amsterdam Zuid (where the VU campus is located) costs 3.30€. For Dutch students, public transport is free, but if you are an international student, unfortunately, you have to pay. There is an option to buy a subscription or get a student transport card which gives you discounts on trains outside rush hours - it can make your travels somewhat cheaper, but not that much.
Having these aspects in mind, you can travel around Amsterdam without problems. Besides, Amsterdam is not very big – if you like walking, you can often reach your destination on foot.
From personal experience, I can say that riding a bicycle is not necessary to live in Amsterdam. I have friends who prefer public transport or walking - and they are absolutely fine with their choices. As a bonus, they do not worry about bicycle-related issues like repairing the flat tire or subscription payments (if you rent it). Your bicycle cannot be stolen if you don’t have one :D
What choice did I make? In my personal value system, the benefits of having a bicycle overweight the costs. For me bike means freedom: I am not dependent on public transport, I can change the ways how I reach my destination and enjoy nice views on the way, and I save money. After all, I learned to cycle when I was five years old, and I always liked it. For me getting a bike was an easy decision to make. However, you may have a different view – and the final choice is yours.
Hope to see you on a fietspad,