Copenhagen

Why do bicyclists hate cyclists?

On my commute home the other day, I passed a woman bicyclist ambling and weaving in the Bloor Street Viaduct bike lane. She called me an “asshole” as I passed. As I rode the rest of the way home, I thought about the reasons why she would call me an “asshole”. Not that I’m not sometimes, but I don’t think I was this time.

AfIrp

I was moving a lot faster than she was but I gave her plenty of space. The lane is certainly wide enough to accommodate several bicyclists and, as is my usual practice, I rode on the white line separating the bike lane from the road. She had plenty of room to do her bobbing and weaving. So it couldn’t have been that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I didn’t say anything to her nor look at her as I passed.  I didn’t throw anything at or in front of her. I wasn’t wearing an offensive t-shirt or political button, not that she could see them anyway.

So what was it?

In the two or three seconds it took me to pass her, something I did pissed her off. Then it occurred to me – maybe it wasn’t something I did. I suspect it had something to do with who I am and who I represent.

You see, there are two types of people who ride bikes: the bicyclist and the cyclist.

The bicyclist likes to amble in a bicycle lane safe from cars and trucks; they ride in fair weather only – no rain or snow or any temperature above 20C or below 10C and even then they wear a parka; they ride slowly on heavy, multi-speed bicycles and carry bulky panniers or bags. They sport all sorts of lefty political buttons and flags. They hate cars but own two and one is a Volvo. They use terms like “bicycle infrastructure”, “cycle tracks”, “separated lanes”, and other catchy phrases. All well and good and I love these people.

The cyclist on the other hand likes to ride fast on the road with cars and trucks; we ride all year, in all sorts of weather; we carry a small backpack, courier bag or Henty Wingman.  We ride a fixed-gear Wabi or single-speed, racing or cyclocross bike. We use bike lanes if they are available but, when they’re not, we ride wherever we can. We respect cars and trucks because we drive one and pedestrians because we are one. And we respect bicyclists too.

But it seems some bicyclists, but mostly the bicycling advocates, actually hate cyclists.

And I know why.

You see, bicyclists want to turn “cycling” into mass transit. Have you seen the photos of bicycle lanes – BORING – do any of these people look happy? Just like taking a bus!

Copenhagen

They want cycling regulated and protected, hemmed in and controlled. They want to slow it down and make it boring and safe.

They hate cyclists like me because they resent our freedom. We are the rebels; they are the conformists. They try to insult us and make us seem selfish. They label us a “sub-culture”. One guy called us a “sect”, like we are apostates from the accepted religion of Velo. vintage4Here is my fisking of that guy, Michael Colville-Andersen, a Danish bicycling zealot, who I respect but who is dead wrong about this:

It is a small, yet vocal, group that is male-dominated, testosterone-driven [so what, why is that a bad thing? And I know plenty of young ladies who would disagree] and that lacks basic understanding of human nature [ya, cus we’re dumb, come on]. They expect that everyone should be just like them – classic sub-cultural point of view [sort of the pot calling the kettle black, don’t cha think?] – and that everyone should embrace cycling in traffic and pretending they are cars [I really don’t care if you do or you don’t]. They are apparently uninterested in seeing grandmothers, mothers or fathers with children or anyone who doesn’t resemble then contributing to re-creating the foundations of liveable cities [yawn – like we actually think about that when we’re riding] by reestablishing the bicycle as transport [wow – so much dreck here it’s hardly worth commenting – again, I wish the grandmothers all the best and hope they can ride well into their older age, on cycle tracks if they must]

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I urge you to read the whole smear. Heaven forbid we disagree. Check out London Cyclist and this former Labour Minister for some perspective.

My advice: don’t wait around for the zealots to force you into the bicycle lanes. Just hop on your bike and ride. There is plenty of room for all of us on the road – and plenty of good ideas from everyone in the debate.

Theodore Dalrymple on the recent killings in Copenhagen

Denial and Grandiosity
Some observations after the Copenhagen killings

Twisting language is generally the easiest way to evade unpleasant truths. The Guardian, the British liberal-left newspaper, offered a good example, in the wake of the Islamist killings in Copenhagen. Under the heading SCANDINAVIANS VALUE FREE SPEECH, BUT NOW THEY NEED TO BE PRACTICAL, Andrew Brown wrote: “When the Swedish Democrats [a political party that wants to limit severely immigration into Sweden] caused an election film to be banned from national television in 2010 because it showed hordes of immigrants taking benefits from native old people . . . Danish politicians queued up to accuse the Swedish authorities of a betrayal of free speech.”

How did the Swedish Democrats cause their own election ‎film to be banned? How, indeed, could they have done so? They might have suspected that the film would be banned, but that is not the same thing as causing it to be banned. Only authorities with powers of censorship could do that—and whether they should have exercised those powers is another question. The proper way of putting the matter would have been: “When the authorities banned the Swedish Democrats’ election film.”

Read the whole thing here at City Journal

Elevated Cycle Paths: Is Toronto missing an opportunity?

Check out this article from City Journal about elevated bicycle lanes. For Toronto, maybe these elevated lanes could be designed to run along the LRTs or John Tory’s Smart Track system?

Other cities think big. In London, famed architect Norman Foster has proposed an ambitious, 136-mile elevated bike path, to be suspended above the city’s suburban rail network. Foster’s “SkyCycle” plan—which could accommodate 400,000 bike commuters daily—has the support of former mayor and potential Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson, as well as the local government agencies responsible for London’s public transportation system. Architect David Nixon envisions a floating bike lane in the Thames River that would allow a car-free commute from the city’s residential areas to the financial district.

In Melbourne, Australia, a consortium of investors has proposed attaching an enclosed, mile-long “Veloway” to the side of an existing rail viaduct running through the city. “[C]ars, bikes and pedestrians just don’t mix well,” Committee for Melbourne CEO Kate Roffey told a reporter earlier this year. “This would solve the problem of separating cars and cyclists moving east-west across the city, and pedestrians can go under or over roads.” A similar approach would seem well suited to New York’s outer boroughs, where, unlike midtown Manhattan, elevated rail viaducts remain the norm. Many commuters in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx would likely take advantage of an option that would get them from home to work in about an hour, safely and free of charge, with a little fitness thrown in.

In Denmark, bike-friendly Copenhagen cut the ribbon this past summer on its Cykelslangen, or Cycle Snake—an elevated lane providing cyclists with a much-needed traverse over a pedestrian-heavy corner of the central city. “It is one of those rare occurrences in Copenhagen where seemingly everyone is happy,” wrote Classic Copenhagen blogger Sandra Hoj. “Cars have not had to budge an inch, the lower level has been returned to pedestrians, and cyclists love it. Besides easing the transition from highway to bike bridge, it is a pure joy to ride.”

Copenhagen is a cyclist’s dream city?

Well some cyclists would say so. The UK Guardian reports:

Copenhagen remains the benchmark as cities around the world try to figure out how to take the bicycle seriously as a mode of transport again, and enable this 19th-century invention to solve 21st-century urban challenges.

With its narrow medieval city centre streets and broad 20th-century boulevards, Copenhagen continues to inspire planners and politicians from around the world who can squint a bit and see their home city superimposed on retinal images of the Danish capital.

While the tools for establishing a bicycle-friendly city were designed more than a century ago, in Copenhagen people are figuring out new ways to use them to build beautiful things. There is nowhere producing more new ideas to increase bicycle traffic than the Danish capital.

My readers know I’m skeptical but there are some cool innovations here.

The ‘green wave’ for cyclists was one of the greatest ideas to come out of the brainstorm started by former actor Klaus Bondam when he was elected on to the city council. On most major arteries leading into the city centre, the traffic lights are coordinated to allow continuous flow of traffic, allowing cyclists to flow into the city in the morning rush hour without putting a foot down. The lights reverse in the afternoon to send people home on a simple, tech-based tailwind.

On certain stretches, LED lights embedded in the asphalt help cyclists keep their speed in order to catch the green light at the upcoming intersection and there are simple speed radar signs reminding cyclists to maintain 20km/h in order to surf the wave. Version 2.0 is currently being tested, with sensors able to register a group of citizens riding together and then keeping the light at the intersection they’re approaching green for a little longer.

But also some not so good ideas. Footrests? And I’m not a fan of nudging.

If you want to see improved behaviour among cyclists, just build best-practice infrastructure for them – separate bikes from pedestrians and cars and give them their own space in the urban landscape. Copenhagen has the world’s best-behaved cyclists: only 7% bend or break a traffic law and only 1% do something like run a red light or ride on the pavement. Good design improves behaviour.

Danish cyclists queue patiently at traffic lights, Copenhagen, Denmark - 01 May 2013 - Photo by Francis Dean/REX (2313952a)

Danish cyclists queue patiently at traffic lights, Copenhagen, Denmark – 01 May 2013 – Photo by Francis Dean/REX (2313952a)

Queue patiently? Jeesh.

Read the entire article and watch some videos here.

Two Videos courtesy of Urban Velo

Bike Friendly Cities – Video Series

Earlier in the week we posted an uncut interview with Mikale Colville-Anderson on the ideas of Copenhagenize. This video contains excerpts from the interview as a new series by the people at WeLoveCycling who are showcasing bike friendly cities around the world. Then content for Copenhagen is up now and more cities are soon to follow.

“…It was a pleasure to talk with famous urban mobility expert Mikael Colville-Andersen. Or with Morten Kabell, head of Copenhagen’s Technical and Environmental Administration. And we’re sure you will love the wizards from bike repair shops or the beautiful lady who ferries sperm samples to fertility clinics around Copenhagen on a sperm-shaped cargo-bike.

For a number of days we researched whether Copenhagen really is paradise on Earth for cyclists. You can find the answer in our report.

The Biker

Don’t you hate it when motorized vehicles use the bike lane? I mean, hate hate hate it?! Don’t you wanna ride up next to them and kick em over. Don’t you get so enraged you wanna..wait….oh, never mind.

The Biker

Check out Urban Velo for more on riding in the city, gear and bikes reviews, and good advice. Not sure I agree with Copenhagen being a cycling paradise, and frankly I don’t care if motorized vehicles use a bike lane — I’ll just go around them. I use the entire roadway when I ride and I don’t want to be relegated to a stupid bike lane.

Rush hour in Denmark

Two Danish tourists visiting Canada recently criticized Canadians for not having enough parks in our cities and for not encouraging cycling. Well, I’ll have none of it. Here’s what rush hour looks like in Denmark.

640px-Cyclists_at_red_2

“Cyclist at red 2” by heb@Wikimedia Commons

What cyclist in their right mind wants to navigate through that!!! It looks like a bike accident waiting to happen.

Anyway, so what, Danes like to cycle. It’s not that big a deal.

Let’s consider:

– the size of Denmark is 43000 square kilometres, smaller than Nova Scotia [we have more park land than they have land!]

– Copenhagen (the capital and largest city) has a population of 550,000, fairly small by North American standards, and it’s as flat as a pancake

– the climate is very mild all year with the average high of 11C and low of 5C [not 33C in July or -25C in February]

– and gas cost $8US a gallon or $2.20 a litre and there is a car ownership surtax of 180% of the value [that’s right 180% – think about that for a moment and ask yourself (1) if you could afford that and (2) if you would not start riding a bike tomorrow if that were imposed on your car.

It’s no wonder then that:

– 52% of all Copenhageners cycle to their place of work or education every day, even when this is located outside the municipal boundary

– 4 out of 5 of all Copenhageners have access a bike.

– There are 650,000 bicycles in Copenhagen and app. 550,000 inhabitants. Compared to 125,000 cars, corresponding to 5.2 bicycles for each car.

So, before we start congratulating the Danes, it looks to me like they are being forced onto their bikes by the cost, and they don’t mind riding because it’s not a hardship given the mild temps and flat terrain – whip-di-do. Try riding in Toronto. I bet most of them would drive a car if they lived here.