Go for a walk in Florida and you risk being stopped by the police. That was the experience of Viktor, my friend and colleague from Germany.
We were at a work conference in Florida back in February. The conference was about 40 miles north of Orlando, in a pleasant area covered with orange groves and lakes. The roads were surprisingly good for cycling.
But like in many places in the U.S., you can’t really walk anywhere.
Viktor, being a good European, wanted to go for a walk after the day’s meetings and before dinner. So he left the hotel complex and started to walk along the main road — a 45mph state route. This apparently was an odd enough occurrence in Florida that the police pulled up and asked what was wrong, and whether he needed help.
“Just going for a walk”, didn’t seem to satisfy them, and they were insistent on giving him a ride … somewhere.
By definition, there must have been something wrong, because no one in Florida would “just go for a walk” out on a main road. (They apparently didn’t consider that was the ONLY place he could walk, given his starting point).
Once you get beyond this as a good source for jokes … it’s discouraging to consider that this is the sort of mindset that would need to be overcome in order to make more pedestrian- and bike-friendly areas in the U.S.