One of the things I love about Holland is the lack of overprotection. Amsterdam is a city of canals with nary a fence, or even a low railing, to prevent the cars, or horse carriages, or people, from falling in. You fall in, too bad. Watch out next time. And it happens surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly) rarely. The main street near us is a construction site at the moment, and while there may be some barriers up, it’s not quite clear to me who they’re for. Certainly not pedestrians, because at several points one is actually veered off the sidewalk (which is fenced off from the construction) directly into and through the construction site, alongside working bulldozers, excavators, deliriously close to deep gouges where a new water main is being laid.
Last summer, I rode past a playground being torn up in de Pijp, in southern Amsterdam, and kids were playing on the heap of sand that the excavator was busy adding more dirt to. Parents stood where they usually stand in playgrounds, at its edge, completely unconcerned, just like the excavator driver.
Sadly, I have no pictures of that incident, but there was something about it that was so refreshing, so trusting that you would be smart enough not to deliberately put yourself in harm’s way when the excavator swung its shovel around to dump another load of sand that you were playing on, and if something happened, well, it was probably your fault.