Q: You’re jogging or riding your bike in the park in Germany and the route is blocked by people walking side by side by side. They won’t move out of the way for you, even though they are using the entire lane. What’s up with that?

A: That’s one reason there are bells on the bicycles, according to Waltraud Wagner, a family therapist from Darmstadt. But another thing: Germans walk to talk. To many, parks are not for exercise but for walking conversation-groups.

The no-yield attitude is also about power.

“Normally, when people walk in groups, they believe they have the right of way,” Wagner said. “People walking as single should walk off of the path, they believe.”

On Ploeck Strasse in downtown Heidelberg, no one wants to give in, according to Joachim Funke, professor of psychology at Heidelberg University.

“They all claim they are the person who has the right to use the street,” Funke said.

And though he knew of no studies on the subject, Funke also suspected that while in the parks, the groups feel dominant enough to hold their ground. Share the path? Nonsense!

Wayne Henry of Stuttgart, a civilian employee at Patch Barracks and competitive walker, said he still doesn’t know why some groups won’t make way for someone to get through.

Some Germans have been walking this way for so long, Henry said, they might not even realize they are impeding anyone. So he relents.

“I do a little of whatever works,” Henry said. “If I see a way through, I’ll work through it. If I don’t feel like getting over, I will say, ‘Excuse me.’ Or I’ll go off (the path) and around them. Whatever the mood of moment is.”

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