‘The plague of the pavement’


All is not well in bicycling heaven.
In Copenhagen, Denmark, bicycles
are everywhere, and 55 percent of Copenhageners travel daily to work or school on a bike. “Cyclists in Copenhagen travel a total of 1.2 million kilometers (745,645 miles) by bike every day,” boasts a city website.

City of Cyclists logo

But that popularity of two-wheeled transport has prompted a backlash among pedestrians, says a story in Wednesday’s New York Times, “In City of Cyclists, Pedestrians Feel the Squeeze.”
“We call cyclists the plague of the pavement,” the Times quoted Mikael le Dous as saying. Le Dous, a 56-year-old power plant engineer, is head of the Copenhagen Pedestrian Association — and a cyclist himself.
He complained that Copenhagen’s ubiquitous cyclists ignore traffic lights, ride the wrong direction on one-way streets and plow through pedestrian areas without dismounting.
There’s a lesson here for urban cyclists everywhere, particularly in cities where cycling has not become generally accepted. Cyclists who flout the rules of the road, who are discourteous in their encounters with pedestrians and motorists, who arrogantly act as if the bicycle is, or should be, the only means of transport, blacken the name of all cyclists.
To get a taste of the cycling scene in Copenhagen, check out the video from the city webpage “City of Cyclists.”

Copenhagen City of Cyclists from Copenhagen City of Cyclists on Vimeo.

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6 Comments

Filed under Environment, Travels, Urban cycling

6 responses to “‘The plague of the pavement’

  1. As a cycling Copenhagener, I agree. I rage daily over cyclists who apparently have a death wish and conduct themselves without any consideration whatsoever. One of the big problems is the differences in speed. Some cyclists in Copenhagen are sloooow while others look and behave like Contador. This causes much friction and frustration on the bike paths, because people depend on being able to reach their destination on time. Urban planners could avoid much of the trouble by making sure cyclists have the space they need. And by not placing traffic lights half way down a hill. 😉

  2. Ben

    After reading the post I felt the same way when I went to Amsterdam during the summer. At times it was quite difficult being a pedestrian with bicycles dangerously zooming by without a care and behaving as if they were the only users of the sidewalks, roads and trails. In addition, motor scooters are permitted to use the bicycle trails and lanes.

  3. Nice to hear from someone in Copenhagen. The people living in Denmark are said to be the happiest in the world. Is that after they get off their bikes? Our new Sunset Beach, NC, bridge has 5-foot bike and pedestrian lanes on each side. While that might be inadequate in Copenhagen, it works here.

  4. Pingback: A Different Spin on the Dangers of Urban Cycling – WSJ.com « Pit's Bicycle Blog

  5. Pingback: Five steps for pedestrians « classcae

  6. Pit

    I really agree that – and that is everywhere – bicyclists should adhere to the traffic rules.
    Best regards and safe bicycling,
    Pit

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