A few days ago the ambassadors of Denmark and Sweden took part in an opening ceremony of a photo exposition showing how cycling became a fundamental part of Danish culture and life. Exactly one day before the event footways in the area were decorated with a few hundred meters of fresh paint in the form of a bike path. The bike path was so useless and obviously done with no planning to speak of that it immediately became a laughing stock, both for the media and citizens: it was so obviously bad that the mayor felt forced to admit it, to say that that the responsible people will be sanctioned and that the city will have to fix it.
A few weeks ago, a cyclist protest took place in front of a police station: the cyclists were there to demand that the city council and police come to some sort of a solution about bike lanes and driving on footways. When the group of about a thousand cyclists got there, to their surprise, they could see a few hundred meters of what looked like freshly painted bike lanes on the footways in front of the police building. The only difference between the new strips of yellow paint and proper bike lanes was Continue reading “In Loving Memory of Potemkin”→
It is probably obvious that any police force has much more work than it could possibly handle: additional officers could write a few more jaywalking tickets, others could be at a radar speed check, one could handle the theft of a few kilograms of flour from the local grocery shop and so on. It is therefore clear that it has to prioritise, evaluate which laws get broken, what kind of impact that has on society and deploy its officers so that it maximises the beneficial effect on society. That is the police’s only purpose.
Now, if the police were to send all its people out into the streets to fine whoever they can catch jaywalking, people would (rightfully) be quite disappointed and frustrated with the way the police force is transforming public money into very little of value. Normally, the police force – including traffic police – is busy with more important work, so they send officers to crash sites, catch speeders on highways and so on, but recently, for reasons only they know, they have decided to regularly, frequently and in large numbers fine cyclists cycling on footways.
There are lots of resources on the web about cycling in winter, but since more often than not, people still (incorrectly) perceive near-zero temperatures as way too cold to cycle around town, here is my take on the subject.
I cycle year-round, roughly 10 to 30 km per day, in an urban environment in a continental European climate. Of the two main obstacles to comfortable cycling – rain and cold – in this article I will address the later: 3-4 months of daily sub-zero temperatures in the morning with minimums of -15 or -20 °C.
This afternoon a meeting took place in front of the Mimara museum in Zagreb. Everyone riding bicycles – or anything which could be called one, with a moderate stretch of the imagination – was invited. The idea was to show a glimpse of the total cyclist population in Zagreb, i.e. the size of the population which would be happy to see Zagreb turn into a cyclist-friendly city.
As it stands, Zagreb has around 180 km of cycling lanes. Allow me to put this into some kind of sensible perspective:
about 50% larger than the Arena shopping centre
less than one third of one percent of city surfaces dedicated to motorised traffic
less than one tenth of one percent of the total city area (roughly 20×10 km)
When we get the city to invest 0.5% of the city’s surface into cycling, I am quite certain that it will be possible to measure and register a clear improvement in air quality as well as a heart disease and obesity reduction. If it were easy to measure exact happiness levels, it would certainly be on the list as well.