February 21st, 2010

Instant Cycling "Culture"

People ask me, "Behoovingmoving, how do we create a cycling 'culture'? We need a 'culture' of cycling. How do we create a cycling CULTURE?"

As one who has learned to shave, I have no time for activism. Life is too short. So I am more inclined to suggest gentler more doable tricks, like publicly funded music or art projects. Sure, this is not real music, or real art, but then the public we are swaying can't tell art from propaganda, now can they!    

I also like the idea (this one is mine) of filling public spaces with excessive numbers of bike racks, with no regard for whatever quantities might ever be needed. In New York they could silence the velophobes by telling them the bike racks were art. This alchemical slight-of-hand was achieved by having the racks designed by somebody famous, David Byrne (who wrote songs about buildings, food, electric guitars... everything except bikes as it happens). 

In car cluttered New York, they at least bar cars from the roads in Central Park on the weekend. Where I live various water-front routes really only provide access to the recreational facilities, and access for hoons to do laps. These could be closed to vehicles at least every Sunday, at best outside of all business hours. A regular occasion would exist then for people to catch the train to the city, with their bikes, and just ride around.   

Strategies bicycle activists have not managed to implement in America, I doubt could be implemented in that country's 51st state (Australia). Like Elvis though, we can dream, dream of a better land, where cars are not allowed to park on the road side, and that lane is instead given over to bikes. 

Dreams aside, my suggestions take the form of symbolic gestures, aimed in first instance at glorifying bikes, and later, perhaps, at making cars feel as unwelcome as cyclists do every day. And voila: cycling culture. Perhaps.