Monday, June 17, 2013

It has been far too long since I made an entry here. I find that I spend a lot of time daily on Google +. I have a large number of people who are in my "Cycling Folks" circle, and so much of my G+ time is spent reading about other people's experiences with cycling along with their opinions, perceptions, stories and the like. Recently, I saw a post in one of my cycling communities that I read. I typed a very lengthy reply, then before I added it, I decided it had merit enough to warrant posting here in my blog instead. So, to begin with, here is the original post from the G+ cycling community:

Here is a link to the page the G+ poster is referring to:

Below is my lengthy reply which I've chosen to post here instead. 

This disparity between US cycling and Amsterdam has been brought up before. It's comparing apples and oranges. In the United States, there are almost no communities (even our best cycling cities), that equal Amsterdam, or Cophenhagen, Denmark. Vehicular speeds are much higher here, even in congested downtown areas, and cycling is nowhere near as prevalent as in those European cities. Drivers here have not learned how to coexist with cyclists yet, and there are very few communities where they have.

The original author of that page has numerous ill-informed opinions as well. Those dynamo lights he disparages so much are much higher quality now than they were 20 years ago, and with LED lighting most are as bright or brighter than our often, heavier and more cumbersome battery-powered lights, with the added advantage of never having to worry about a light that wasn't charged up.

Secondly, he's obviously never seen folding bikes. He has a whole section on "bikes with tiny wheels and extra long seat posts and handlebar stems." Duh, folding bikes - you know, for people who take the train or bus.

I always enjoy seeing photos of how prevalent the cycling culture is in places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but they're not the United States, and one can't hope to expect that sort of change to occur here without a major cultural shift. As more communities here in the states start implementing cycling infrastructure, we're slowly but surely seeing the beginning of a cycling renaissance that will, with hope, allow our communities to be the equal of those paragons of cycling and automotive cooperation, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.


  1. Well, Celt might be interpreted as old and tribal, isn't it (bearing in mind the so called instrument)? Old classical cycles...
    You really do have the right notion of "the whole thing" if I may say so. It's all about ways of thinking according to ways of being - none is better than the other; none is the ultimate truth. They're just differently lived realities; different ways of seeing waht's around us.
    At leat the man was understanding a bit of it in the end alhough, at first, he figured it out as if those cyclers were coming from Neptune!
    The first time I went to Holland I was almost ran over by a "fiet" (that's what they are called in Holland)in Amsterdam.
    The part of the city where the dams are is all "covered" by cycling paths (and sidewalks , of course)but tourists insist on walking everywhere (including me, at first).It takes some time until you get used and for me it not so difficult as I am a town cycler myself.
    The weight of History, an "engineous" people and a flat country, including part of Belgium until reaching the Gent region makes them "fiets" rule and be respected. I've never been to Copehagen, but I can assure in Amsterdam the relationship between men and bicycles is the same I have with my two arms.
    In Portugal we have only one city where there is free use of bikes to let, withing the city limits, and there is also a special traffic regulation, in some parts that pays respect to cyclers. Still, here in my town every car slows down and even stops to give passage in intersections sometimes.
    As for the helmet I feel very happy for having the opportunity and freedom of not having to wear it.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Here in the states, cyclists are still struggling for our rights in the midst of an all-pervasive "car culture." In the U.S. children have it impressed upon them at an early age that acquiring a driver's license and their automobile is not only a necessary rite of passage but signals some larger expression of freedom, when in fact auto ownership is probably one of our greatest financial burdens. We're starting to see the tide turn though. For the first time in decades fewer people are purchasing cars than ever before, and many of the younger generation of recent college graduates are waiting to get their drivers licenses or forgoing them altogether. We're finally reaching a time of what is being called "Peak Car" which means auto use is actually in decline. Someday we'll have the infrastructure for cycling that you see in places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but not for a while yet though.