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Dutch tolerance

Personal safety is a personal decision in The Netherlands

Crane on canalside road, Amsterdam
Crane on canalside road, Amsterdam

Holland is safe — it's civilized. But if you neglect your own health or safety, you probably can't sue anybody for your mistake. You have to watch out for yourself.

• Low cast-iron fences bordering a sidewalk might be topped with decorative spikes.

• If there's a hole in the sidewalk, you just have to know to not step into it.

• An infrastructure project might not be protected by even a strip of tape — never mind a barrier. The operators of heavy equipement are watching for you, and you must also watch for them.

• Overhead work? You decide whether or not you'd like to walk underneath.
I met a Dutch girl in Ireland once. She laughed that there are so many warning signs there. I hadn't noticed — I'm from America. Very little goes without warning in America. If a potential civic legal responsibility is involved — and there usually is, in a litigious culture — there's a sign for it.

Warning this, danger that. This kind of posting is rare in The Netherlands — as is much of the protective apparati that one might expect in the case of urban dangers.
The Netherlands is a safe country. But the legal atmosphere does not require anybody to warn everybody about every danger, and it is not customary to do so.

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