I was strolling down the street, thinking about the excellent dinner I had just finished, when suddenly my heart skipped a beat as I realized a car was fast approaching. I froze. At the same time the car slowed down gently and the driver waved happily to indicate that I could cross the road safely. I still remember this moment when I was a Master’s student five years ago in the Netherlands. Coming from a country where the roads are dominated by large numbers of motorbike users, I was always scared to cross the road, especially during rush hour. In Vietnam nobody wants to stop for pedestrians because stopping unexpectedly can cause a crash at any time.
The fact that the Dutch give priority to pedestrians crossing the road really caught my attention. For a while I was surprised and still nervous every time I crossed in front of a car. But the Dutch let me cross the road even when they are in a hurry to get to work! I think this behavior is just a habit. The Dutch have put a lot of effort into road planning for a safer transportation for cyclists and pedestrians. Safety is a priority and of course it makes an impression on people arriving here for the first time. In the Netherlands now, I always feel comfortable and safe cycling with friends, crossing the road and enjoying the bike transport system.
By: Dung Duc Tran, Vietnamese PhD candidate in Water Management