Turn signal optional

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ImageThe following entry is from Wednesday April 9, the first week I was in Amsterdam. It serves mostly as an introduction to tomorrow’s entry.

Today by some undeniable stroke of good luck, I have rented a car and by faith am driving to the tiny German town of hassel. This is the tiny spot on the map where my great great grandmother and great great grandfather and great great aunt were from. I’m beside myself- though at the moment I’m focused on the terrifying idea of navigating a car out of the city of Amsterdam.
I’ve never seen a city that drives this way. Of course the signs are all in Dutch and even the street signs that are only symbols appear no less confusing than hieroglyphs. At night and on the weekends, they turn off the stop lights all together. It sounds insane to have no street lights, until you see the way the street lights are regarded during the day.
Let’s talk a moment about lanes. First there are many lanes, lanes for trams, lanes for bikes, sidewalks for bikes, or pedestrians and periodically cars. There are lanes that turn, lanes that go straight, lanes that go south and lanes that go north. All the lanes have white lines. Sometimes the lanes have arrows. In the time that I stayed in Amsterdam I did not discover how it is decided when the bicycles and motorized scooters go, but they seem to maintain the right of way in all situations. Even a tram will stop for a bike. I did not see any accidents while here, but anytime I saw someone with a cast I assumed it was from a biking accident. Oh, and the bikers never wear helmets. They do however talk on the phone, transport groceries and other goods and more people. I saw a regular two wheel street bike with four people on it, four. It was not unusual to see two people on a bike, the second on the flat cargo holder on the back, sitting side saddle. And there were plenty of children on bikes, never with a helmet. I am eager to research the incidence of head injuries in Amsterdam.

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