A common feat among locals in Amsterdam is riding a bike while holding another bike.
Are these thieves?
This was a question I was asked when I was entertaining a guest in the city. It never dawned on me that it could be a bike thief. But more than likely it’s not.
All bikes sold in the Netherlands (excluding high end road bikes) come equipped with a back wheel lock. Most thieves are opportunists in Amsterdam. If they come across a bike that is not locked to anything, they will simply lift the back wheel and walk away with it.
Wheel locks are a minor deterrent. The likelihood that your bicycle will be stolen while it’s parked next to dozens of other bikes is pretty slim. As such, most people just use the wheel lock if they quickly go into a shop.
But if left unattended for a long time (or if you forget your keys in the wheel lock) then it will turn into a thief magnet.
Why do people ride a bike while holding on to another?
Anytime you need to bring a bike from one destination to another will be a reason to bring the bike along with you.
You could be bringing it to a shop for repairs. Or you could be retrieving it from a shop. Some people return to tend to a bike that needs repairs and fix it on the spot.
Whatever the reason, riding your bike to get another is more practical than either walking or taking public transportation. It can save time and money.
Tips for riding a bike while carrying another bike
The best way to bring another a bike with you is to hold it at the top of the stem between the handlebars. You can control the balance and direction better. I’ve seen some expats (a person who lives outside their native country) really struggle with this feat because they hold the end of the handlebars.
Don’t be in a rush and take your time while doing it. It’s best to avoid high traffic areas and during rush hour. This is a real skill, suitable to the Dutch who are masters at carrying things on their bike. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it, there are other ways in which to carry your bike.
If you encounter someone carrying another bike, be empathic and give them space. But at the very least, don’t point and scream “fietsendief!” (bicycle thief.)