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Hitchhiking the Amsterdam Way

When living in Amsterdam, one doesn’t need a car. It can be quite a nuisance, especially when getting stuck behind a lorry unloading on a canal. But in Amsterdam, one cannot live without a bicycle.

Cycling is the number-one mode of transport in the Netherlands, come sun, rain or snow. Not even a little bit of ice deters the Dutch from slipping and sliding across town on their beloved fiets.

There is in excess of half a million bicycles roaming around in Amsterdam, and some people even have more than one to their name. While the city is quite safe, God help you if you leave your bicycle unlocked! Once stolen, it is most likely being sold by junkies cycling around the center trying to sell it on the cheap.



Locals are so used to their bikes being stolen that it’s become a rite of passage of sorts for honorary Amsterdammers and expats alike.

The bottom line is, if you own a bicycle in Amsterdam, then you have to be prepared to say goodbye to it. Because if a thief doesn’t claim your fiets, then the canals will.


Once a person masters the art of cycling through the busy streets of Amsterdam, they can cycle almost anywhere in the world.

But how a tourist who is completely new to the Dutch cycle path and code survives their journey, is anyone’s guess.

The number one thing on every tourist’s list of stuff to do in Amsterdam is to ride a bicycle. Well this, and eat cheese, gawk at paintings in the Van Gogh Museum, walk along the canals and smoke weed. Amsterdam is ever thankful to the millions of tourists gracing its streets every year.

But while the Dutch love tourists or at least say they do, there’s one thing they can’t stand: a tourist on a bicycle. There’s nothing more frustrating than a group of tourists on a bicycle who don’t know the rules of the cycle path. Well, that and a group of loud, drunk English lads over for a Bachelor party.

So what are the Dutch to do about this predicament? One Amsterdammer decided to reinvent the way tourists get around by starting the Yellow Backie initiative. Keeping cycle paths safe and arguably “to spark some love” between locals and tourists, Matthijs Groos has made it easy for travelers in Amsterdam to hitch a ride when out and about.

The yellow Backie

Amsterdam Style Hitchhiking


At the moment, there are more than 150 locals cycling around with a bright yellow luggage rack. Locals are invited to send in their motivation for joining the Yellow Backie crew.

Only selected participants are given a free yellow luggage rack, which makes their bicycle stand out from the hundreds of thousands roaming the city. So if you’re in the market to hitch a free bike ride, good luck finding one!

But if you are lucky enough to spot one in your vicinity, simply shout out “backie” to get them to stop. If they have time, they’ll give you a ride and maybe even show you around their beloved city. Groos compares his new scheme to couch-surfing, but without the smelly socks.


The ride is completely free and meant to be a way for locals and tourists to meet and share a good time together in Amsterdam. If you’re really, really lucky, perhaps they’ll even take you for a good old-fashioned Dutch borrel, and if sparks do fly, who knows maybe even a little bit more.



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