This morning I came across two items in the media that juxtapose two very different attitudes about cycling.
One is an article in the Guardian about how, for the first time, bicycles outnumber cars in Copenhagen.
Many people believe it’s unfair the compare North American cities with this European city. Wrong. In the 1960’s and 70’s, Copenhagen was well on its way to becoming the type of car-centric city that is now common in Canada and the US. But then there was a change in attitude, and over a few decades, Copenhagen became one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world.
The second item is a column in the Ottawa Citizen by Kelly Egan in which he complains that some of the streets where the city has accommodated cyclists are becoming a big mess for motorists.
He bases his column on the experiences and observations of two individuals. One is a senior who complains that, because of a bus stop, a bush, and utility pole, she has a difficult time backing out of her driveway across the bike lane on Churchill Avenue. The second person is an Alta Vista resident who complains that reducing Main Street from four lanes to two lanes takes space away from motor vehicles. He also doesn’t like the new signage going up on Main Street.
Mr. Egan states that the changes to Churchill and Main will lead to a reduction in traffic speed and volumes, but he suggests there will be undesirable consequences for the rest of the city. He goes on to raise the question of whether the city is “engaging in a war on the automobile” (to use a phrase made famous by the late Rob Ford).
He closes off his column by quoting the Alta Vista resident: “How are we supposed to get around in our cars?”
Old attitudes die hard.
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