Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I was honked at for the first time yesterday... and for once I'm absolutely sure it was my fault. The street signs for cyclists are different here and I'm still trying to work them out. Apparently, Dutch schoolchildren take classes on cycling and learn all this stuff both by doing and instruction.

Unfortunately, I'm only learning (or unlearning) by doing. So now I know, again, that if I want to make a left hand turn at a 4 way intersection, I should pull in front of the cars to wait for the light even if there is no clearly marked bike lane. A sensible rule, a universal rule, a rule that I had forgotten...

Here, once the light turns green, they will wait for the cyclist to turn left instead of honking, gesturing, screaming and veering around as I am used to in New York City.
My mistake was that I stayed to the right of the cars in the clearly marked bike lane and pulled out into the intersection to wait, defensively, for the cars to pass before attempting the left hand turn.

This is incorrect.

The car drivers expect the cyclist to sit in front of them. Polite waiting is done by the car drivers, not the cyclists. To my surprise, a car stopped behind me and honked at me, letting me know that I should make my left hand turn.

How weird is that.

At the pub last week, one of Evan's friends told me a saying in the Netherlands- a person truly learns to ride a bicycle after learning how to drive. Driving a car on the road with cyclists teaches you how to ride a bicycle around cars. It's mutual reinforcement.
And it is fantastic!

Here's a photo of me buying stroopwafel with my bike.

1 comment:

  1. Alicia! I'm so so sorry I missed your leaving! Hope everything is as nice as it looks in your pictures. Enjoy! Best to Evan.