The Dutch are a proud, hard-working, and rather tall people. They’ve made many contributions to global culture, particularly in the arts, water management, seafaring, and the slave trade. The Netherlands is also well-known for the use of bicycles in their bustling cities rather than automobiles. The result of this two-wheeled transportation point of view is that the fine, fine ‘Nederlanders’ who do operate motor cars can’t park them worth shit.
Of course, the above is hyperbole and intended to induce a chuckle or two. But the fact remains that if there’s one skill the Dutch lack, it’s the ability to properly park an automobile.
First, I think it is somewhat important to mention that while cars are commonly used here, I wouldn’t identify the Netherlands as having a driving culture. I’d say that on average, bicycles and small scooters are as prevalent (if not more prevalent in some areas) as cars on the road. The truth is that the vast majority of towns and cities that weren’t leveled during WW II are old as hell and were certainly not designed with cars in mind. However, there was a post-war period of prosperity where cars became prominent and many cities turned local squares in to parking areas, bike paths were removed, and new construction took cars into account. That is to say they tried to make these old towns (many dating back to medieval times) more car friendly, but it was a massive failure. Pedestrian and bicycling accidents (and deaths) rose sharply and after some pretty dramatic protests, these policies were not only scrapped, but often times completely reversed.
So, yes, we can all agree this isn’t a car culture.
But even still, there’s no excuse for the atrocious parking I see on a daily basis.
Here are three examples. Keep in mind that I took all three of these photos on a single walk home from the train station which is only about 600 meters.
In the first photo, the car in question is pretty far outside of the proper space and not even close to the curb. And since parallel parking is quite common, you’d think they’d be better at it.
The second photo is a classic example of how utterly fucking hopeless the Dutch are when it comes to perpendicular parking. Go to any parking area where the spaces are perpendicular and I’d bet Guilders to Oliebollen that at least 40% of the cars there will be parked as badly as this.
Finally, in the third photo we get a double-whammy of awful parallel parking. First, the blue Volkswagen in the foreground is obviously all cock-eyed and again, nowhere close to the curb. Second, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the black minivan-type thing’s back tire is on the line that indicates where the space begins and ends.
So you get my point.
Finally, this kind of chaos illustrates an interesting point about Dutch culture. And yes, I’ll be making some broad generalizations here.
The Dutch like to pretend the appreciate organization and efficiency, when in reality they seem to actually prefer things to be in a state of complete bedlam – anarchists in disguise.
Otherwise, there would be nothing to talk about here, it seems. It is, after all, a pretty boring place to live unless you want to live in Amsterdam, smoke pot all day, shag hookers until your bits and pieces fall off, or just love dog poop. The sidewalks are paved with it.
But, if you have something to complain about, you have something to chat about. So, if it weren’t for these cultural quirks, the whole damn place would be full of mutes.