by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. on August 22, 2013
Amsterdam cycling advocate Marjolein de Lange regales us with this tale from 2006 about how cyclists came up with a very simple solution (draw bike box outlines directly on the pavement!) to better organize the chaotic, random bike parking outside of a popular supermarket which is used by many blind patrons, physically challenged individuals and seniors. It’s so simple and shows how sometimes engineers might over think a simple solution to a problem.
Marjolein tells us these are now common in many shopping areas in Amsterdam and other cities. Although I will add one comment: this also only works well in cities where nearly all the bikes do have kickstands.
I pass a junkyard on my way to visit Hales Corners, WI. At one end of the place are a dozen or so very old auto bodies that are nearly completely rusted. I see that very vision every single time I witness the usual bicycle parking lot. In fact this past weekend while visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden it was painful to see just how sloppy and messy a bike parking area can look.
Mercifully their is tucked behind a hedge row that encircles the area. There are inverted ‘U‘ stands all over the place. And yet many of them lay empty because the patrons who rode there by bicycle decided to ignore the inverted ‘U‘ stands in favor of places for which their bikes were not intended.
This is a fairly common practice because bicyclists are first and foremost ‘pigs‘. I mean that as no disrespect to my porcine friends. But we cyclists are a lazy lot. We ride a bicycle for miles to reach a beautiful spot where we end up attaching it to fences that do not belong to us and in clear disregard to posted warnings. Why?
Well if we can get a few feet closer to the building we hope to enter we won’t have to walk as far!
The Video Is Nice, But We Yanks Hate Kickstands!
Once again the evidence points to the fact that Americans are clearly ‘not ready for prime time‘ when it comes to dealing with a cycling culture as vibrant as that in the Netherlands. For instance the place has bikes that we Yanks are unlikely to buy and in fact cannot get at easily because of their rarity here and the fact of their expense.
But whether you are talking club level racer wannabes or your garden variety hipster on Milwaukee Avenue there will be nary a kickstand anywhere to be found. When Mr. Eckerson made this video he was either bored silly or was suffering from a ‘food coma‘. Urban cyclists have no intention of attaching kickstands and certainly no intention of using them to hold their bikes upright while they waltz into a business with the bike unlocked.
There is a stark difference in cultures between there (Europe) and here.