Sunday, October 02, 2005

Of bikes and people

Sunday. Just woke up. My parents, aunt and uncle have just departed back to Helsinki. What a splendid weekend. Took the canal ride for the first time during my stay here. Have to admit, it was supernice.

The canal rides start from the Central Station. If you look at the picture, they take off from the left corner. The bike thingie there is the free bike shed at the station. Every single tourist I have met has commented it. I personally love the fact that in Amsterdam a bike park is bigger than the car park.
I cycle everywhere in this city. One essential device on the bike is the bell used for letting the tourists know that a bike is approaching. There are a few different reactions.

1. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned: Quite often Asian middle-aged men with a camera. They do an exaggerated leap to the side with the low volume soundtrack:"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

2. Bambi is my favourite film: Women of all ages, often seen in groups. Jump to the left, jump to the right, back to the left, again to the right. Soundtrack:"Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh my God, Oh." One of the trickiest groups for cyclists . Slalom is rather difficult as it is but even trickier if the poles keep moving.

3. They don't see you if you freeze: Middle-aged women. They completely stop where they are, hands pointing down. No sound and often even closed eyes.

4. Taxidriver is my favourite film: "What the F**k are you ringing that bell! Do you want to get beaten, eh?" I presume no reason to specify the gender. Potentially biggest risk for the cyclist.

5. I am, therefore I am: Middle-aged men torn away from their private cars. They seem to think that the bicycles are offending their private sphere. The only impact of ringing the bell is a comment to the spouse:"Another one of these. Just don´t mind him."

6. What a perfect day: Usually groups of women or couples spending a wonderful weekend in Amsterdam. The reaction to the bell is a smile and stepping aside. Soundtrack:"Sorry, dear. Oh, darling, this biking culture is so sweet. I wish we had it back in the States as well."

Ok, it's 12.30. Time for breakfast.

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