A Run-Down Of Normalcy In Cycling

29/07/2008 14:36 by Amsterdamize

This post is dedicated to normalcy in everyday cycling. Albeit, one that's derived from my genetically altered cerebral cortex, but this is a pretty common phenomenon on the continent that is known as Europe.

I'd like to use a real life image of everyday cycling as a point of reference, so that nobody, and I mean anybody that lacks the aforementioned cortex tune up job, cries foul play.

Our specimen:
Location: the Netherlands, downtown Amsterdam, along a busy shopping street.
Weather conditions: 31 degrees Centigrade, high % humidity, no wind.
Cycling speed: approximately 15 km/h.


These observations can be explained, both empirically and by way of common sense:

These are outdated statistics, NL cycle death rate has dropped since

Besides these practical observations I can tell you, dear reader from presumably a car-dominated culture, that this is not at all an isolated case for Amsterdam. All over the Netherlands you'll encounter this phenomenon. However, it's not something of late or something that's been there for centuries. This infrastructure was built and improved over the last 45 years. Through public(!) and political will and determination, coorporation and vision (and a big bag of pragmatism). Nothing is easy, but it sure isn't impossible.

The same developments can now be seen all over Europe (besides bicycle friendly countries like the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany), even in some cities in the US. Paris transformed into a bicycle friendly city in just a year, for instance.

Bicycles are not suited for all commutes or purposes, obviously. But short trips (largest share) are. Having public transportation options i.e. alternatives also helps. Cutting down on car use has so many advantages, I don't think it needs an explanation. In Amsterdam over 40% 55% of all trips are done by bike. Nationally, it's 27%. Again: of ALL trips. That last figure has politicians and cycle organizations shaking in their boots, it's too low to them. So a new national cycle campaign has just started.

If you live in a country where cycling is marginalized or demonized, and you're thinking of joining or starting a cycle advocacy organization, please do me, and more importantly, yourself a favor. Don't make it more fringy, cultural or political...and certainly not 'the green thing to do'. That's just a by-product, it shouldn't be promoted as such, there's enough greenwashing going on already. Bicycling is normal, like how it started it out. Just do it, in normal clothes, comfortably. Have others join/follow your lead, inspire. If you currently can't count on political vision or will from your town/city council, sheer volume will get you there. Indeed, safety by numbers.

Maybe not today, but certainly tomorrow.

Ps. Don't assume we can all relax, sit back and dwell over our accomplishments.

Ps #2. I'm not against helmet wear, I'm all for personal choice. But I'll go ballistic when people or politicians push for mandatory laws, trying to legislate something that doesn't need or isn't helped by enforcement. So all you zealots, ill-informed and scared fellow human beings, read this post twice if you have to, challenge me and this basic concept of cycling, but let's do it with putting thought into it, ok? Cheers.

I'll finish this post with an episode from Amsterdamize Bicycle TV, a video impression of normal cycling ;-p.

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