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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 you have to watch out for yourself. If you neglect your own safety, you probably can't sue anybody for it.

Low cast-iron fences bordering a sidewalk might be topped with decorative spikes of significant hazzard. If there's a hole in the sidewalk, you have to know to not step in it. An infrastructure project might not be protected by even a strip of tape. Operators of heavy equipement are watching for you, and you must also watch for them. If there's overhead work, you decide whether or not you'd like to walk underneath.

A Dutch girl in Ireland laughed that there are so many warning signs there. I hadn't noticed. Very little goes without warning in America. If a potential 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.