Monday, September 17, 2012

A Long Bike Ride

First, a comment on cultural differences.

If a car or bike is heading towards me, I don't think about right-of-way, I just get out of the way.  In my hometown, cars don't even think to look for pedestrians, even if they are crossing on a green light in a crosswalk. (I know that there are parts of the US where this is different!)

Here, if pedestrians here think they have the right of way, they'll ignore you, car or bike.  We'll be biking down a narrow sidewalk and Sophia will ring her bell, and sometimes they'll look at us, but rarely they'll move.  Even if there's obviously nowhere for us to go.  I get so frustrated, but I have to tell myself, it's a cultural difference.  They just assume they have right-of-way, and we better work around them.  Which is a nice thought.  And I will work around them, when I can, but I'd appreciate it if they would move out of my way when I can't!

So, biking here can be frustrating, but it can be so wonderful!  The weather right now is mild, the leaves are just starting to change, and yesterday we went on a 6-hour bike ride--my friend, her daughter, my daughter, and me.  We first biked to Mega (the mall by our house) and waited while my friend went inside to the sports store and had someone help her with her headlight.  She'd just bought a headlight for her bike and it wasn't working.

Then, we biked through the big central park and over the pedestrian bridge, maneuvering through pedestrians.  Luckily, as the weather cools, there are less and less of them.

We stopped and watched people on some of the rides--there are amusement park rides in the park, fascinating and scaring Sophia at the same time.

We stopped again at the park on the other side of the river (the one with play equipment designed like gym equipment--so much fun!)  We let the girls play while we checked out a newly opened Irish pub.  A glass of Guiness (not sure how much) is well over $10.  Overall, the prices were very expensive, so although the place looked very nice and was playing Irish music, I'm not sure if we'll come.  Maybe once, just for drinks.

We biked again to the Zhanur shopping center, on Valikhonov Street, in hopes that the supermarket there would have peanut butter, as they used to 3 years ago.  They didn't, but we did find caramel, which was nice.

We biked down Abai Street, checking out two restaurants as we went--an Italian restaurant, which we weren't in the mood for, and another Irish pub.  This one had a more moderately-priced menu, however the place was empty except for a bartender and two guys who just stared at me when I entered and said nothing, but kept on staring, as I asked the bartender for a menu.

They were smoking, too, so we decided this wasn't the place for us, so we biked to the American Bar and Grill (formerly TGI Friday's) and ate there.  We had the flambe, so the girls could be excited when it was set on fire.

By the time we were done, it was getting dark.  My friend had her helmet headlight one, which blinded us when she looked at us.  We biked home, over the bridge called the Rainbow Bridge due to its multicolored lights.

The weather here (currently) and the flat land is perfect for biking!  Astana just needs some bike lanes and a biking culture...

1 comment:

  1. On sidewalks, pedestrians do have the right-of-way. In most places bicycles should travel streets and follow the same road rules as vehicles. In Astana, it is illegal to ride a bicycle on sidewalks. In those instances where riding on the road is prohibitive, bicycles should be walked and otherwise yield to pedestrians.