All Is Not Sweetness and Light in Bicycle Heaven…


The latest blog entry from Copenhagenize begins as follows:

Mogens Knudsen, Operativ leder i færdelspolitiet ved Københavns Politi

There’s a man in Copenhagen named Mogens. Mogens Knudsen. What’s interesting about this man is that virtually every single day he goes to work he hurts and, in many situations, kills people.

What’s more, Mogens actually gets paid to do so. He is a civil servant with a badge. A policeman. The head of the Traffic Dept in Copenhagen Police.

Mogens hates those fellow citizens of his who ride bicycles in Copenhagen. He has for many years and has always been vocal about it.

If Mogens seems scary, it gets worse. Mogens has colleagues who feel the same way and who also get paid to hurt and kill people. Mogens and his colleagues make the Danish Road Safety Council’s crusade against Danish bicycle culture look like piecemeal.

Welcome to the Danish Police. Welcome to The New Copenhagen.

You have to love the hyperbole of the author of this blog entry. But whether you think he is going too far or perhaps not far enough you can see that even in Bicycle Heaven things are not all sweetness and light.

At its heart the bicycle movement is less about bicycles than it is more about the dissolution of the stranglehold autos have on the public’s imagination. For those that make bicycles this is a good thing. For those whose livelihoods rely on all things motorist it represents an evil.

To the general public cyclists are sometimes just what they act out, “weird and strange and lawbreaking”. Some cyclists are merely in the movement because it gives them a legitimate means of acting out in ways that would normally be considered sociopathic. I wonder at times whether the life of Critical Mass has been extended far beyond its usefulness just to serve as a release valve for these kinds of riders, people who are outliers within society.

You cannot help but realize that the bulk of the reason for forums like the ChainLink is to provide a real social networking platform for a very incestuous group of individuals who are far too cozy with one another to be helpful in developing a broad and meaningful world view. They always put me in mind of the Tea Party. Very insular and unable to do too much more than stick to their talking points which is essence is the basis of their narrative.

Theirs is a world in which automobiles and the people that love them are the enemy. Theirs is a world in which collisions between cyclists and motorists is no longer an “accident”. These events have been raised to the level of some sort of conspiratorial evidence that “they are out to get us”. This group is both shrill and chaotic and seemingly unable to plan even a simple thing like a Halloween Party without screwing that up by not getting the properly licenses to serve liquor.

But it would appear that even the Europeans have the same sort of myopic view of the world. So I wonder whether things on this side of the pond will ultimately change for the better? Given the problems that cyclists and motorists are having on the West Coast, I think not. There is an ongoing battle to restrict the free-wheeling ownership of bicycles by having them be subjected to the same sorts of controls placed on motorists.

Cyclists of course hate this sort of thing. They feel themselves to be above the law and any crackdowns are as one young lady in a recent video clip put it “there are better things to do than hassle cyclists who run red lights”. Of course as the author of the piece in question learned if you bring any kind of critical judgment to bear on cyclists you are labeled as “anti-cyclist”. I guess this is the sort of thing that police the world over have had to deal with as they try to enforce rules created by the politicians.

The folks who have joined the cycling movement in the hopes that once all the streets are painted green and new bicycle-specific stoplights have been installed the level of deaths on streets of cyclists will drop to zero are sure to be disappointed. Cycling Advocates are as apt to lie to you as their cousins the politicians. All they are interested in are the funds that the wealthier suburbanites can contribute to their bottom lines. If you remove those dollars from the equation by counseling them that the fear mongering of their advocates is so much “crying wolf” the reality of cycling might become a bit more clear.

Groups like the League of American Bicyclists lie at a crossroads where their bread-and-butter training expertise is being called into question by the new “we need more bike lanes” crowd. In fact that latter group is openly hostile and dismissive of Vehicular Cycling and old-timers in the various suburban clubs of Chicago and elsewhere should understand that fact. If you give to these groups you are sounding the death knell for Vehicular Cycling and there is nothing being offered in exchange.

The lanes styles that are being promised are paltry in comparison with the cycle tracks that make up the majority of the European scene. But we Yanks are largely ignorant of these facts. We are all giddy with the green colors painted on the asphalt and are proud that our city is racing towards parity with places like New York, San Francisco and Portland. But beware the green paint. It does not mean that situations will clear up anytime soon.

Even Bicycle Heaven has its problems and they have long since found the Truth when it comes to cycling, right?