Tuesday, October 28, 2008
"Sorry, Officer. I Don't Speak German!"
Every day I ride my bike to and from work. I am usually in a rush, and in general pretty careless of things such as pedestrians, stop signs, other vehicles, etc. Well, today it finally caught up to me, and I was stopped by the German police, or "Polizei". I was crossing the street at a green cross walk on my bicycle, and on the other side of the street there is a bicycle path next to the road. I usually go over it and onto the sidewalk to pass the other bikers who are always incredibly slow. Well, I saw some police there, but didn't think anything of it, and I was planning to just ride right around them. A policewoman stepped right in front of me and held her hand up to stop, and I stopped my bike right in front of her. She started to tell me (in German) that I am not supposed to be on the sidewalk, and that there is a reason for the bike path. I replied with a very convincing "Uhhh, I am sorry, mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut." She asked what I speak, and I replied "English". Then, very politely, she explained that it is illegal for me to ride my bike on the sidewalk, and that I should proceed to the bike path. I knew it was illegal, but I had no idea that they actually enforce a rule like that, especially since the bike path was out of my way for the direction that I was going. Anyways, I spoke to my colleagues at work, and apparantly those police were there for the sole purpose of enforcing bike laws. They were also supposed to give me a 20 euro fine, which I managed to get out of. Sometimes it pays (or saves in this case) to be a foreigner!