Bicycling in Amsterdam
As a city reclaimed from the ocean, Amsterdam is totally flat. Therefore, bicycling is easy, and everyone does it. You will see chic ladies in high heels and skirts, businessmen in suits and ties, senior citizens, and kids of all ages, including teens in social groups.
The authorities have encouraged the practice by building bike paths everywhere there is a road. Bicyclists also have the right of way over anyone else, including pedestrians. Which means walking can be hazardous. Each road consists of the car roadway, a paved bike path, and a sidewalk. Major streets also include tram tracks. Oftentimes, all these things are on the same level, with little to mark one lane from a different one, not even a curb.
Whatever method you are using to get around, you need to be very careful as people and cars come from all directions. Not to mention the scooters, which as far as I can tell are allowed on any surface they can find. Cars often park on the sidewalks, which forces pedestrians onto the bike path, and bicyclists will not be happy to see you there.
Notice the child in the box on the picture above. To his right is another child on his own bike. It is common to see a mom moving her children around this way. Or here's an alternative method. Ride on the back.
You will see people carrying umbrellas, texting, talking on their phones.
If you are observant, you will have noticed one unusual fact about bicyclists in the Netherlands (versus the US). No one is wearing a helmet. No one. I never saw a single helmet on a bicyclist in Amsterdam. Not even toddlers in the little boxes attached to the front. (See note below.) But I did see my first bicycle garage.
Note re bicycle accidents: Amsterdam is a very safe city traffic-wise. Approximately 200 people per year die in bike accidents in The Netherlands, with an average of only 6 per year in Amsterdam. http://www.tobysterling.net/2007/12/bike-accident-deaths-in-amsterdam-and.html
Death in traffic accidents overall is the lowest in Europe at 45 deaths per million inhabitants per year vs. the comparable US rate of 147 deaths per million and the European rate of 90 deaths per million. (credit Toby Sterling). So I guess that's why they don't feel the need for helmets.