Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Dutch and the Americans

Recently a bunch of American city officials went off to the Netherlands to learn about how they got to where they are in terms of city biking.

There is some interesting information in the article but the big one is ignored. What they have ignored is the type of biking being done in these cities and towns: Civilized.

My neighbor has 3 girls and decided to encourage them to bike more. We are but a mile from the Capital Crescent Trail and from there it's up to Bethesda or down to Georgetown. He rounded them up and off they went with a plan to lunch in either or then make a leisurely return trip, happy in mind that all would enjoy the days outing of feast and fun.

Of course the poor man had to come to terms with the cloudiness that invades the minds of parents the world over. The very idea that he could take 3 girls on a short bicycle trip on a public path and all would be peaches and cream is the very definition of the clouded mind.

Apparently the littlest one is prone to a bit of the wobbly and a lack of concentration. I suppose this is to be expected from a 6 year old. The other two are prone to chatting and giggling and a lack of concentration. I suppose this is to be expected from 10 and 13 year olds. What the father failed to grasp was what was to be expected from the other bikers on the path.

The problem lies in the manner of biking we here in the US engage in. "Civilized" gives way to a more get out of my way attitude.

The parent, only out to spend some time and a nice lunch with the offspring, is not prepared for the mentality of the US biker. Leisurely is not part of the vocabulary.

The father complained to me about this approach and wonders how anyone can enjoy biking on these paths. Which brings us to the survey. In the article they say that 60% of people surveyed in the US would like to bike more but feel it's unsafe. They are referring to roads with cars. The Dutch are addressing this by going with more separate bike roads. The Americans see this as the way to go.

They are ignoring the one thing that will keep most of those 60% in their cars regardless of how many separate bike paths they manage to create: the US biker.

No comments:

Post a Comment