Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Who Put That There?

Sometimes I'm walking along the sidewalk and there's a bicycle in the big middle of the sidewalk. I think, Who would put a bicycle in the middle of the sidewalk? Isn't it more logical to put it against a wall or next to a pole, keeping the sidewalk clear so that people can walk? Some times I look at a bike standing there and I think, Maybe someone wanted that space and they just moved the bicycle here since it wasn't chained down. This thinking has caused me to chain my bike to something whenever possible. I want it to be there when I return.

This bike-in-the-middle-of-the-sidewalk problem is really horrible at the Albert Heijn at Museumplein. Making my way from the bikerack, where I have chained my bike, it is sometimes like a maze getting to the door of the supermarket.

Then last week, I was walking to our Albert Heijn, a less busy one than the one at Museumplein, and a guy rode past me, stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, dismounted, locked his bike and walked into the store. Maybe somehow it seemed safer to him for his bike to stand there instead of in the crowded bike racks. Or maybe he's just an ass.

I would never do that because I would be afraid someone would knock my bike over or, worse, knock it over and in a fit of rage stomp on it, doing some damage. (Hey, I'm from NYC.) But there's also the problem that it's just inconvenient for other people to have to walk around a bike that's sitting in the middle of the sidewalk.

If it were limited to bikes, it would be a manageable problem. But people here just stop in the middle of the bike path and talk, blocking the path. They will get off their bike and fix it in the middle of the bike path. They will block paths, entire sidewalks, just stopping to chat, with no concern, no thought that other people will be using the sidewalk, too.

Of course I ran into this problem in NYC. People who get to the top of the escalator, don't know which way to go and stop to look both ways and consider options, etc. But here it's different. Here it's done not with that, "Oh! I'm so sorry. That was stupid" attitude. Here, it's done with a "Gaw! Just walk around!" attitude.

It's not just the Dutch (although young, Dutch women are notorious). This is very much a multicultural city. There are people here from everywhere. It's just something that's allowed to go on. It's unfortunate. It's wack.

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