A few items on cycling during Bike-to-Work week.
First up, if you missed John Pucher’s great talk – Cycling for Everyone: Lessons for Vancouver from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany – then check it out here.
Said the “Copenhagenize” blog:
I can only say that it is absolutely brilliant. It’s an hour-long filmed seminar with legendary John Pucher at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. See the film now. Quickly. It’s wonderful.
John wasn’t at the Car-Free Cities Conference in Portland last week (“Live Free or Drive”) – but he would have loved it. Best part was hearing about what’s happening in places like New York, San Francisco and Amsterdam. The panelists were educational and entertaining – and confirmed that Vancouver is way behind when it comes to new initiatives.
And what issues are they working on in, say, Amsterdam? Well, this:
Actually, this is in Portland – but it’s indicative of what’s coming. Namely, bike trailers and attachments of all kinds that make the bicycle more useful for real life – and that take up more road space. Typically, these pedal people are moving more slowly with wider loads, and start to back up the cyclists behind them on narrow paths. Amsterdam is recognizing they have to provide passing lanes for faster cyclists if they’re to avoid bike rage.
Yup, it’s come to that.
It’s not new, but more cities are adopting Bogota’s Ciclovia – the temporary or permanent closure of a major street (or streets) to motorized vehicles so that people are free to use the roadway without concern for their safety. Portland had a Sunday Parkway event at the end of the conference. Gil Penalosa (brother of former Bogota mayor Enrique Penalosa, and now executive director of Walk and Bike For Life in Ontario) gave a great presentation – and here’s his interview with BikePortland.
In Vancouver, we have Critical Mass, of course, and the Vancouver Cruisers. I confess I was unaware of this group, which hold rides periodically around the city on their classic cruisers, until they showed up at Leg-in-Boot Square on the South Shore of False Creek last weekend.
You’ll notice that no one is wearing a helmet, and they’re all dressed in street clothes. No Lycra to be seen. I think this a deliberate attempt to ‘Europeanize’ cycling in Vancouver, to make it accessible to everyone, a normal activity integrated into daily life.
Loek Hesemans nailed it in Price Tags 99: Cycling has been a subculture in our cities – a way to express identity: “to create a sense of togetherness, of companions in adversity finding support with each other.” It may be a necessary phase, but as John Pucher stresses, cycling must be for everyone if it’s to truly effect change on the scale we need.
The time is right: major issues are coalescing – climate change and peak oil, obesity and public health, traffic congestion and livable cities. Decision-makers are more open to ideas that previously would have seemed too fringy to be comfortably embraced. Budgets – the sincerest form of rhetoric – will follow.
And speaking of dollars, what I am I doing with my Campbell Cash? The Tyee’s helpful campaign to direct the hundred-dollar dividends to organizations that can make better use of the money than most of us gives you some choices, and mine is the High School Bike Crews – another grass-roots campaign by Arthur Orsini.
Giving away money for cycling is the next best thing to actually doing it.
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