As a pedestrian, I’m scared of cyclists.
This came about because of previous experiences in a country where cycling is also very popular: Germany, Munich to be precise.
Although pavements and squares are divided into cycling and pedestrian lanes, German cyclists don’t respect them very much.
They are an aggressive bunch, riding at top speed and going where they want to, crossing lanes without giving any kind of signal.
It seems to me that they expect pedestrians to jump out of their way, possibly right into the path of another approaching cyclist.
Frankly, when walking the streets of Munich, I spent more time looking behind me than ahead which did not make for a very pleasant experience.
So, it was with a certain apprehension that, on my recent visit to Amsterdam, I stepped into the streets.
The Netherlands are Europe’s bicycle country no. 1.
I got the impression, that cyclists outnumber pedestrian 5 to 1, but I got a pleasant surprise with Dutch cyclists.
To start, Dutch bicycles are very different to others.
The saddle is low and the handlebar is much higher and very straight.
The result is that cyclisst sit ramrod straight, look ahead and around without any effort.
Nobody is hunched over.
I guess that that position is much more comfortable and healthier.
It also looks quite regal.
The next thing that catches the attention is, that nobody wears a helmet.
This indicates that there is little risk of a fall or an accident.
And it is true. Cyclists respect their lanes and the pedestrians.
And in turn they are respected by drivers.
Cars wait to let them pass, there are plenty of traffic lights for them and cars wait patiently.
They ride at a leisurely pace and don’t bother pedestrians at all.
For once, I was able to walk relaxed, without fear of being knocked over by an approaching bicycle and enjoying the many sights of beautiful Amsterdam.
Maybe, cyclists in other countries should take notice.