Können Sie mir helfen?
This was the question put to me this morning by what appeared to be a Grandma out with her two Grandkids on Mariahilferstraße. This was right around 9:30 a.m., just as the shops were starting to open up, and it was starting to get a little busy.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind helping. I just couldn’t figure out how she picked me out of the passers by. Seems she was having some issues with her high fallutin’ new fangled baby buggy. Well, I don’t think it was actually hers, but she was at the wheel.
Talk about being out of my depth! My guess is that her yuppy offspring were busy working, she was in charge of the kids, and naturally there was no training manual with the thing. They didn’t have these kind of high end buggies when our kids were young, which we wouldn’t have been able to afford anyway.
The wheels wouldn’t swivel, and there was some sort of secret code involved to get them to spin again. I did mention at one point as I got down on my hands and knees (always painful) that my “kids” were approaching middle age, so this could take me a couple minutes.
The buggy kind of looked like this one with the set of duel wheels on the back. I guess that’s for extra payload. Kind of like having a tag axle?
It actually took me a good long ten or fifteen seconds studying the wheels before I realised there was a second little tab that you could lift, and then they’d swivel right around. Good to know! Yessir, gonna tuck that one away. *pfft*
Can’t I just give directions to tourists? Not as hard to get up off the ground I find. My stupid knee still hurts.
Oh, and I didn’t take any pictures of the old girl, the young girls and their “rig”, since I’m not overly keen on taking pictures of kids that would then end up on the internet. Just one of those things.
Speaking of “helpful”, I somehow don’t think this cop had being helpful in mind. At first I briefly thought he was giving some sort of directions or whatever to the fellow with the bike, but there was a bit of a lecture involved, and then some writing. Hm…
I wouldn’t have given that too much thought, but not long after that, I saw him having a little chat with yet another bike rider.
Do we see a pattern here?
There had been a third guy with a bike that he was having a chat with earlier, which I hardly noticed in passing, but then when I saw him with the next guy, that’s when I hauled out the camera. It’s not easy taking stealth photos either.
Looking for a stolen bike? Doubtful. Probably more like hassling some of the rogue bike riders in these parts.
My first European bike experience was in the Netherlands. It’s a place where they have pretty strict rules for bikes, even though bikes and pedestrians are given a wide berth. It’s a rare thing in the Netherlands to be forced to ride with the cars if the speed limit is much more than “dead slow”, and on the bike lanes (“highways” is a better word) there are separate traffic lights for pedestrians and bikes. It’s awesome.
If you want a brief taste, this little video is plenty short.
Now, if you have another four minutes to kill, I’ll burden you with yet another biking video from the Netherlands. This was taken by a fellow by the name of David Hembrow, who lives in Assen. He writes a bike blog, whenever he has a chance, called A view from the cycle path.
I thought the music in this one was is kind of cute.
The paths they are on are a bit narrower, as they are in a less developed area.
You might have noticed that they don’t just paint a line on the road and call it a bike lane. Really, that sort of thing should just be called “bike lame”, since it is. Bikes in the Netherlands have their own space mostly to themselves. I miss that.
One fine morning when I was taking Travelling Companion to work in Hengelo, we saw a cop car go right down a bike path (most are over two metres wide in the Netherlands) to chase down someone on a bike and issue a citation. Something I had never seen before.
Could it be that they’re starting to tighten things up here as well? Wouldn’t hurt my feelings. I haven’t been riding all that much lately since it’s too danged busy out there, but when I did, I stopped at the red lights and followed the rules as best I could. Most of the time while everyone else rode on past me through the intersection. Not a good way to get any respect for bikes, I’ll tell ya much.
So if you did watch the videos, and before you say, “Oh but, Holland is flat, and they have nice weather!” let me just say “No”, the winter we were there I was out riding in -9°C, and yes that was pretty damned cold to be on a bike, but they clear off the snow and put down sand or salt for the bikes as well as for the cars. For you Fahrenheit folks, that’s easy. It’s nine degrees below the freezing point of water. Now you know.
AND, since it’s flat, there’s ALWAYS going to be a head wind. You might have a tale wind on the way, but guess what? you need to return at some point. Why do you think they have all those windmills?
It’s all about making it safe to ride your bike, and not just on some old railroad line that’s now been graciously turned over to the bikers and the knobs on rollerblades for a recreational outing on a Sunday afternoon. I, along with a host of others, rode my bike every day. Often making several trips. It was how I got around.
Just going to take a deep breath here.
Didn’t mean to get off on a bit of a rant, but once you’ve drunk that particular biking nectar, you’ll never be happy with the vinegar that gets served up by your local politicians.
Bike lame. Pah!
T.C. just called and she’s on her way home. Time to cut some cheese. And that’s NOT toilet humour.
Have a fine weekend if I don’t check back.
Keep it between the ditches.
Thanks for….you know.