End of a workday. 6:30 pm. Winter. Dark. Raining lightly. I hop on my bike and head home. Turning into my street I ride along the sidewalk on the left hand side of the road. Slowly. Don‘t want the bike to slide out from under me. I also want to be respectful of pedestrians.
I see a woman about twenty-five meters ahead of me. Just before I pass her she suddenly sticks out her left arm like a pole to block me. It works. I brake suddenly, jump off and confront her. “Are you crazy? I could have fallen from my bike and injured myself.”
She stands her ground, looks me in the eye and says very calmly: Sie fahren auf dem Bürgersteig, auf der linken Seite der Strasse und ohne Licht. I was riding on the sidewalk as an adult, on the left hand side of the street and without a bicycle light on.
In Germany, all against the law. I was flabbergasted, not so much at the laws, which make perfect sense, but at the audacity of this woman to play enforcer of the law. I could hardly contain myself. Upon arriving at home I described the scene to my German wife. Her response? Sie hat recht. The woman was right. The marriage didn’t last.