"If you leave for work early to beat the morning bicycle traffic ... you might be a Leuvener"
-- Jeff Foxworthy
Ok, ok. Jeff Foxworthy was not responsible for the above quote. (He'd be a southern pariah for even knowing what a Europe is.) But the quote is spot on.
A bit of role-reversal here: Cars in Leuven are the most harmless large objects in the world. They approach bikers with sheer timidity: "No, you first. Yes, I insist. Please go now. Don't make this harder than it needs to be".
No, cars are not the danger here. The bikers are lunatics from which the fear-of-God was purged long ago.
Bikers travel with a cruel efficiency that expends individuals for collective expedience. Games of chicken are as common as lanes, as one hurried biker attempts to pass another to gain a single forward placement. Corners are taken with little hesitation or deceleration. A few inches are considered a safe lateral distance for passing, even when the "passee" has no awareness of the passer. Helmets are non-existent, night or day. It is a lawless frontier.
I am very, very scared.