As a student mentor, I once told a Polish exchange student that it was perfectly fine to ride her bike home while drunk. After all, most of the students that go out partying, hop on their bicycles and go home. There's nothing too special about that, right? Well, after the weekend, she came to me and complained. "You said it was fine to ride a bicycle while drunk," she said. I was surprised, so I asked her why she was complaining. Her answer? "My friend hit a car, and there were cops nearby, and ...". I had heard enough. I guess I had underestimated what "drunk" really meant. Ever since, I tell people "it's fine to cycle while drunk, but just don't hit any cars."
Truth be told, there are many rules for riding a bicycle in the Netherlands. Many are never enforced unless necessary. If you're caught putting a dent in somebody's car, there are likely to be consequences, whether you're drunk or not. Still, other rules may be less obvious.
Traffic fines for cyclists in Rotterdam
• Cycling under the influence of alcohol => €100 (235 Ugl / 0.54 permillage)
• Cycling in the wrong direction => €55
• Cycling without reflectors on pedals/wheels/rear => €35
• Making a turn without raising your arm => €35
• Bicycle bell not working? => €35
• Parking your bicycle in a no-parking area => €35
These are the more 'popular' offences, but the complete list of bicycle fines is quite extensive.
Don't text and bike!
The best way to avoid the fine is to use a holder and avoid handling the phone while cycling. In other words, place that phone call before you start pedalling and avoid touching the phone once you're underway.
Voice assistants and smartwatches
If you really have to use your phone, you could try using your voice assistant. Google Assistant, Siri, Bixby all respond to voice commands. Alternatively, a smartwatch will allow you to read snippets of your messages. If it's important enough to read it fully right away, just step off and hop back on when you're ready to continue your journey.
p.s. Is the information in this article incorrect or outdated? Please let us know.