When you first arrive in Amsterdam, especially if you arrive via the central train station, you’ll immediately notice the amount of bikes. For Amsterdamer’s biking is a way of life not a Sunday stroll. Back home in your various countries if you are driving a car on the wrong side of the road or driving in a way which obstructs the normal traffic flow you’d expected to get honked at. In Amsterdam, it’s the bike bell!
Now it should be known you will hear bike bells even when you are doing nothing wrong. Sorry about that. It’s Amsterdam life. But more often then not you’ll get dinged because you are crossing the street with out looking (jaywalking) or walking down the bike path or standing right in the middle of the bike road. Unfortunately not all bike roads will be clear to a recent arrival in Amsterdam, again… it’s life. But when you are in our way we’ll let you know.
Bike bells will come in all shapes and sizes. The hardest to hear will be a simple *ping* and will usually come in groups of 2 or 3. My favorite and easiest to notice is the Ding Dong bell (pictured), it quiet literally will sound *ding dong.* Now, from time to time, our bells are broken or hands too full to ring so we’ll simple say the words, ping, ding dong, tring tring or if you hear me beep beep, which I’ve only recently learned is the most effective way to get people to move. I know, it’s crazy, and even people laugh, but I’ve had such an easier time getting through crowds with that then the others.
Now, my all time favorite thing I’ll hear from an angry cyclist with out a bell is HELLO which sounds like ‘hello’ and is technically the translation, but in this case it means ‘hey you’re in the my way and I’m coming through.’ If you want to have a bit of fun just say back to them, softly and in a kind voice ‘ well, hello!’ It will throw them off every time!