The always-fascinating BLDGBLOG reports from Copenhagen, where 500,000 people bike to work or school every day and the city is built, to an inspiring and enviable degree, around human-powered transport. With the Danish capital set to host the global climate summit in December, the world’s mediasphere may soon be awash with images of attractive Scandinavians cruising their lovely city in a state of two-wheeled bliss. I see no downside here. It’s all just another sign of the dawn of a Golden Age of cycling, as the state-subsidized Automotive Reich crumbles before the grassroots yeoman democracy of the bike.
Of course, there are always the haters, naysayers and layabouts to account for. Here in Portland, the city just unveiled an “experimental” new variety of bike lane which turns one downtown thoroughfare’s usual line of parked cars into a de facto barrier between bikes and auto traffic. Even in America’s most bike-friendly city (arguably), and even though this model works perfectly well in many European cities, the move has engendered the usual pseudo-populist backlash. (I do not intend to malign the legitimate debate, carried on in mostly civil tones among local cyclists, over whether the new lane works as intended.) Most of the criticisms pack about the same logical weight as the townhall battlecry of “This is America! We want our country back!” That won’t stop them, of course. The dumb, like the poor, are always with us.