Don’t Other Cultures Just Blow Your Mind?

Okay, I know this blog is based on the premise of me visiting Missouri (or just any state, but well, there’s the title and all…), but I really liked this youtube clip. It’s actually an American doing the same thing I do. He came from Seattle to Groningen to see the bicycles. I have seen American tourists take pictures of the bicycles here. I have heard them complain how you cannot just cross the street without looking first to see if you’re about to be run over by some riding a bicycle. Somehow, the guy in the next youtube clip is noticing something quite extraordinary about Groningen. He is riding his bike through the city center and cannot get over one thing. If you guess what it is, you win a prize. Also, notice how he’s the greatest danger on the road. If you’re not used to cycling in Holland, maybe filming it is one step too far. For those of you who would take pictures of a bicycle shed (it happens), make sure you check out 3:30. Thanks to Jelle for sending me the video  and Mario for shooting it.

Can you guess what his culture shock is about?


12 thoughts on “Don’t Other Cultures Just Blow Your Mind?

  1. If you don’t know the answer to Bas’ question you could take a look at this video in which Mario gives some more subtle hints.

  2. wow. I knew Europe had a MUCH better public transportation system and was more biker friendly, but I didn’t know that Groningen took it to such extreme. I’m curious. How spread out is the city? I’m in Memphis, a medium, creeping toward large, city. Unlike New York or Chicago with networks of subways or trains, Memphis’ public transportation sucks. Most cities here sprawl so that even by car one might live a good twenty or thirty minutes from work, and some insane people live even farther out. I have a bike for recreational use, and they are putting bike lanes in some of the key thoroughfares, but it simply isn’t practical here to bike farther than perhaps a few miles unless it’s for fun (My boyfriend’s aunt biked something like 100k or something for charity…I’d keel over :D). Of course there’s also the lovely problem of bike thieves. I think it’s worse than the car thefts b/c most people don’t bother reporting it. What’s the point? The police will take a report and tell you “Sorry, but there isn’t much we can do.” You end up going out to buy a new bike no matter what. It’s a sorry state of affairs when your kid leaves their bike next to the front door and someone walks up in the driveway and helps themselves.

    • Few things: Groningen is probably the most extreme example I know. In my own city (and every other city here), cars are allowed, but bikes are the fastest way to go around. In the city centres, the bike to car ratio is probably around 10:1. Public transport is different throughout every single country, but set up quite good in The Netherlands (although bikes aren’t part of it). If you’re thinking Memphis, you’re thinking way too big, although I suppose in comparison to the bigger cities, Memphis and Groningen take about a similar spot in size for their own country. Groningen has 190.334 inhabitants (Wikipedia) and no metro area, so you can get anywhere by bike within 25 minutes I guess. The main thing that Mario also points out is that cities like Groningen and my beloved Leiden are built before cars were even thinkable, in contrast to American cities. Also because everything is within such a short distance, bikes are the main mode of transportation.

      Don’t think that bike theft is unknown here because everybody has one. It seems the more bikes are around, the more theft is possible. My current bike is my sixth or seventh bike in seven years. I spent a little extra on the locks this time and so far it’s worked well for me, but you can get a stolen bike within ten minutes for under 15 euros. After the bars close, people hunt for bikes that aren’t locked well, ride them home and then sell them to a homeless person, who’ll sell it along. It’s a problem here too.

  3. Pingback: Visiting California & Laughing At Myself | visitingmissouri

  4. Pingback: Intervention: Missouri visiting | visitingmissouri

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