I have just had to kill an hour between trains in Cologne.
As it is a lovely day I wandered outside the Hauptbahnhof to the Cathedral Square (Domplatz), up onto the pedestrian cyclist bridge over the Rhine and looked back at the leafy path car free route along the river bank.
Disgrace. Unacceptable. Impossible. Out of control. Can’t be done. What do they think they are doing?
Yes hundreds of cyclists and pedestrians are inhabiting the same space. Politely. Without conflict. Without the world coming to an end. And its official – this is a major corridor across the river for all users.
Young ruffians on BMX bikes. Lycra louts. Parents setting a bad example. Old and young; male and female.
Oh, and you know what – that bridge rail isn’t specially raised to stop the lemmings with pedals throwing themselves off. So that bridge will have to be closed off immediately. The signs industry can celebrate as hundreds of “Cyclist Dismount” signs are ordered and the economy is saved.
Enough cynicism Englishman. Just because you come from a country that is frequently clueless about creating great cycling places doesn’t mean you have to infect the whole of Europe!
In fact it is a wonderful sight as the quiet German cycling revolution continues. Personally I am convinced that the large areas of car free permeable city and town centres that people actually want to walk and cycle in are as big a contributor to the growth in cycling here as many other measures. I must get round to posting the photos I took in Leipzig recently that showed just the same pattern as I have seen throughout the country.
In fact the more time I spend around Germany’s cycling stories the more I do not despair for the future of the human race. To my long suffering cycle campaigning friends in Britain can I just offer a suggestion that there is far more to creating a cycling culture than going Dutch, and there are fantastic examples right here.
PS Some things are however crimes against nature. I have saved them to last, to avoid upsetting the sensitive among you.
Nobody in Europe is as good as the Brits in queuing. Actually, Europeans are generally quite inept at queuing up, that is, they are accustomed to navigating through mild chaos whilst the Brits do not deal very well with a lane that becomes a crossing. Perhaps there is a clue about cultural predisposition that is relevant for contemplating cycling ‘infrastructure’? It makes me wonder…
I tend to agree. When I spoke at the “Get Britain Cycling” enquiry I noted that the UK was uniquely bad at cycling, so it couldn’t just be that we hadn’t followed the Dutch.
Although I also put the fact that the British so completely put the unrestrained use of the car at the top of the transport pyramid as more important.
The car does have a special place in a Brit’s heart. It is the only place on earth that I know where the year of registration is encoded on the number plate. ‘Mine’s newer than yours!’ Rather curious.
To reply to Chikashi, in the Netherlands we don’t encode the information about year, but it is readily available. E.g. http://static2.hln.be/static/FOTO/pe/7/5/6/large_234486.jpg is from June/July 2006. Which I found via http://www.mijnautohistorie.nl/ah_lookupregistrationnumber.php?r=98-SX-VF