Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cycling Nirvana

We've just got back from a weekend in Bruges and what a difference! The infrastructure and attitude are there and everyone cycles - and it's brilliant.

Of course Bruges is quite compact, and full of gnarly little cobbled streets. But there's no ban on cars. No need. They've not really discouraged cars, they've just encouraged bikes with:
  • Cycle paths galore - many dedicated to bikes and not just the edge of a road
  • Somewhere to park your bike (and nowhere to park your car)
and most importantly:
  • People drive and walk with an expectation that there might be a bike coming round any corner
It's a different world, really. Cycling is just part of life: the obvious way to get to the shops. And it's interesting to note that the vast majority of the bikes are not pseudo-sports machines - no "mountain" bikes, very few "racing" bikes. Almost all of them are what you might call "Town Bikes" like mine: a comfy saddle; raised handlebars; road tyres; often hub gears and brakes; some sort of luggage. Dutch-style, I suppose. A bike to go to work on and buy some dinner on the way home. No lycra to be seen - and very few helmets.

The benefits are enormous. Clean, quiet and less crowded. Somehow it feels more friendly and cooperative - more egalitarian. No question it's what we need in London.

And the girls have great legs.

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