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Today is the end of an era as Amsterdam bans the use of mobile phones while riding a bicycle.

This daily habit of cycling while using a phone is now prohibited by law as of Monday July 1st, 2019. This also applies to other devices like cameras. If caught, you risk a fine of 95 euros.

What is allowed

While cycling with a device in your hand is prohibited, you can take your phone out of your pocket while waiting at a red light or on the sidewalk, as long as you put it back in your pocket once you start pedalling. In addition, you are permitted to operate your phone from a mount or by any other hands-free method.

Moving forward

I’m decidedly neutral on this law. Yes the safety concerns are obvious. I can attest to whenever a bicyclist is riding slow or meandering in the bike lane, it’s almost always a result of them using their phone. Even people who ride drunk or under the influence are more predictable on the road.

Unfortunately this law also applies to cameras, which practically puts a nail into my Rear View Wheel series as well as other instances of where I ride and shoot.

I’m also dismayed a bit knowing that this unique sight will disappear from the Amsterdam landscape. Observing from the sidelines, it’s easy to see this habit transcends the bicycle beyond just a commuting tool. But while riding in the bike lane, the perspective does change a little.

What is certain is that photos from this era will be etched into a historical period that will likely never be repeated again.

Note: In respect to bicyclists I captured above, all photographs were taken prior to the Amsterdam phone ban.

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  • Antony Denahy says:

    I wonder how many injuries resulted from riding with phone or camera in hand? The rider would generally be going quite slow … perhaps, as you suggested, more of an inconvenience for other riders. I read recently that in Tokyo there are quite a few laws regarding bike riding, most of them flouted with impunity – the police have better things to do. However, if you crash or cause someone else to crash, then the police may well throw the book at you. So I imagine this would encourage you to follow a guideline like “ride safely and think about others”.

    • Gus says:

      I think your assessment is pretty accurate about riders in Amsterdam. The police do have better things to do than to stop people riding while using phones. But yes if involved in an accident while doing so, it will give law enforcement justification to throw the book at you.

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