We suggest you start looking for a bike during your first days in the city.
Everyone uses their bike (or fiets) to get around the Netherlands! It is a great way to get from point A to B. You don't have to worry about a thing - the infrastructure is centred around bikes. Generally, cars are very aware of cyclists, and in most places you have exclusive bike lanes. You can even travel between towns by bike (to The Hague in about 1 hour or to Amsterdam in around 3-4 hours). Plus, if you're indulging in the student diet, it’s good for your health!
Remember to stop at red lights - and also learn some basic priority rules. By law, you are required to have your bike equipped with a bell and with lights at night.
Where do I get a bike from?
The cheapest, easiest way is to find a bike sold by a student who is leaving town. You can find some ads on our Facebook page, or in other Facebook groups, such as Leiden Housing (this group is not affiliated with ISN).
Another way is to go on the Dutch answer to ebay: Marktplaats. Remember - Google Translate is your friend! We're not affiliated with this website, so be cautious about your purchases and giving out your information.
There's also a number of bike shops in town. New bikes are usually very expensive (from around €250 to €2000), but most shops also sell second-hand bikes. It's worth walking around to compare prices. You can expect to get a working bike for about €100-150.
Where I shouldn't get a bike from?
If somebody approaches you on the street offering you a cheap bike, don't take it. It's most likely been stolen, and it is against the law to buy a stolen bike, even if it wasn’t you that stole it.
I have a bike. What now?
First off, buy a lock. Or two - bikes tend to get stolen quite often in The Netherlands. Big chain locks will discourage most people who might take a fancy to your bicycle. It also helps to lock your your bike on to something (attach your bike to a fence, pole, etc.)
Get some lights. They are very important in traffic and are a safety thing. If you don't want to spend much money, you can find small attachable bike lights at HEMA (on the shopping street, Haarlemmerstraat), for about €5-10, or even cheaper ones at Action (a big discount store, near Digros/Dirk on Langegracht).
If you have a flat tyre - don't panic! Most shops repair this for about €20-50. If you feel up to it, you can buy a repair kit at HEMA for about €5-10, and it shouldn't take you more than an hour to fix it yourself.
Don't park your bike in places you're not allowed to, especially near the train station. The local authorities regularly pick up bikes badly parked around there, and then you will have to pay around €20 to get it back. If your bike is missing, check here to make sure it hasn't just been confiscated by the authorities.