The OV-Fiets is a cost-effective annual bike rental membership scheme run by the Dutch national train company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen).
It offers basic bikes for rent at around 250 locations in the Netherlands for just over 3 euros per time. The OV-Fiets scheme has over 100,000 members and could be useful for expats or frequent visitors to the Netherlands.
Fiets means "bike" in Dutch and OV is short for for Openbaar Vervoer ("public transport").
The OV-fiets program costs €10 per year - to join you need to fill in a form and send off a copy of your ID. As a member you can either receive an "OV fietspas" card or you can incorporate the membership onto an existing personal OV-chip card. This scheme is open to both Dutch residents and non-residents with a Dutch bank account who have access to a Dutch address (eg - of a friend or relative).
Bike rental is just €3.15 per time which gives you up to 24 hours use of the bike. You can rent up to 2 bikes with 1 pass if you want to cycle with a friend or partner. Payment is taken automatically by direct debit.
If you keep the bike for over 24 hours they will charge you another €3.15 and so on. If you keep the bike longer than 72 hours they will start charging a daily €5 fine. You also have an excess own risk if the bike or key is lost/stolen - €20 for losing the key, €50 for loss of bike but you still have the key, €250 for loss of bike and key.
Some rental locations have a 24 hour automatic facility where you need a PIN number to use them. Others are manned but you should ask when closing time is or whether you can bring back the bike after hours.
No pre-booking is necessary - at the rental location your pass is scanned and you are given a bike key with a number - find the corresponding cycle, adjust the saddle if necessary and away you go.
OV bikes are simple "ladies style" bikes with lights, back-pedal brakes and no gears - they are suited for shorter journeys.
This scheme is very convenient when you are visiting another town or city by train and need the use of a bike for a few hours. It is quite popular with people travelling around on business visiting clients - in Netherlands you have to pay to take your own bike on a train - unless it is a folding bike.
During the 2012 London Olympic games, NS placed 500 OV-Fiets bikes around the Olympic Park in east London for Dutch campers to use.
OV-Fiets had a trial period offering electric bikes and scooters for rent but this was discontinued due to lack of demand.
OV-Fiets Locations in Amsterdam - at all stations and some other locations around the city.
Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA Station
Lelylaan Station - 24h
Paradiso - 24h
Pathe De Munt
Station - 24h
Also check out: Cycling in Amsterdam