There I was cycling nonchalantly through the Pedestrian Heart, careful as always in case a pedestrian suddenly remembered that Big Mac and changed course two feet from my handlebars. When suddenly from behind me, I heard a loud whistling and shouting.
My natural reactions kicked in - am I doing something wrong here? Has the trial period ended prematurely, and the council employed Climate Change Police (encouraging it, that is)to make sure we are all off our bikes and back in our cars?
Stuff that, I thought, they'll not get me, and on I went, still nonchalant of course (don't want to look riled, do we). The shouting and whistling continued for a good 20 seconds, but I felt well out of their reach by the time I came to a halt to find somewhere to park. Anyway, maybe they weren't shouting after me?
I turned round to double check this was true. SHOCK! My rucksack had vanished from my rear basket. Suddenly the penny dropped. All this shouting and whistling was indeed directed at myself, but for positive reasons. People actually wanted to help me in my hour of loss. And then I remembered where I was - Bremen, Germany. All this fear and guilt had followed me 1,000 miles from the "debate" back in Darlo about cycling in the Pedestrian Heart. But here, it's an utterly inappropriate response. Of course cyclists use this pedestrian heart - look at the width of the street compared to the number of pedestrians.
I got may rucksack back within 20 seconds, with 6 or 7 people directing me to the police hut where it had just been handed in. Bikes are part of everyday city centre life here, and the people are proud that they are encouraging healthier, sustainable lifestyles.
Hope is certainly a much more attractive feeling than fear. Merry Xmas all.