In other countries it usually doesn’t mean a lot of good when a driver stops for a cyclist, lowers his window and starts ‘a conversation’.
But this is the Netherlands.
The other night I was waiting at a traffic light at a nearby but unfamiliar junction. Some road works were in progress. There I was, in a small side street waiting to turn left on a big arterial road into the city. It took a real long time! Way too long as it was cold, raining a bit and there wasn’t much traffic. Not even on the arterial. Just one car was waiting there to turn left into the side street where I was standing.
When that car got green the driver made the turn but suddenly stopped as he got passed me. He lowered his window and raised his voice to speak to me. “Sir!” Slightly confused I looked at him; what could he have to say to me? I was just a lonely cyclist waiting for the light to turn green. “Have you pushed the button?” My surprise could be read from my face and before I could think of a response he continued. “It’s because of the road works, sir. You have to push the button now. If you had, you would have gotten green before me.” Clearly this friendly man knew the junction better than I do, including the green phases. He must be one of the few residents here. So I thanked him and after he assured me “it happens to many people sir” he continued in his big dark blue executive style car. I dismounted and walked back to push the button I had overlooked. Sure enough, within seconds the light turned green and I could also continue home.
It’s great to live in a country where there is a lot of mutual respect between drivers and cyclists. Not very strange when everybody can be either one. But I must admit, the level of consideration from this driver was remarkable, even for the Netherlands.