Tuesday, 4 June 2019

World Bicycle Day − 3 June 2019

Yesterday, 3 June, was World Bicycle Day, so declared by the United Nations in April 2018. The resolution recognises "the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation."

World Bicycle Day has not been widely publicised, but I found out about it on Facebook. I follow several bike-related FB pages, one of which is The NZ Cycle Trail, which listed this United Nations link.

Being Dutch (by origin, at least), I also look at two Dutch Facebook pages relating to cycling, and both mentioned World Bicycle Day today.

“Fietsen123” had a link to an amusing little video about the development of the bicycle. The commentary is in Dutch, but some of the images are interesting or amusing. There is a picture from an exhibition about cycling in a Rotterdam Museum, which shows an African version of the vélocipède, in which the chain consists of a rope with knots that engage with the chainwheel. Also interesting is the clip of the pre-war Netherlands Army bicycle battalion, complete with the band playing while cycling. The thousands of bicycles in towns caused parking problems, resulting in police removing offending bikes, which, if not claimed, ended up being crushed (ouch!), and eventually becoming an “art” exhibit in that Rotterdam Museum. Bikes have inspired artists, and many bicycle variations have been invented. Check out the water-bike with 15 peddallers, which made a “serious” attempt to cross the Channel from Holland to England!

The other Dutch Facebook page, “Nederland Fietsland” ("the Netherlands, Bike Country") had this timeline of the development of the bicycle since 1817. I was interested to see that the first folding bikes were developed in the 1890s for military use, and the e-bike dates back to 1992.

Nederland Fietsland, by the way,  is a great website about exploring the Netherlands by bike. The brilliant network of cycle paths and suggested cycle routes would make any cycle tourist drool. I would love to take John biking in the Netherlands, if only I could get him onto a plane!

Finally, I regularly look at the Cycle Wellington Facebook page. It is a source of interesting information on the bicycle front in Wellington, though I think it is too often a forum for people (mainly cycle commuters) grizzling about the status of Wellington cycle lanes/tracks and attitudes of motorists.

Personally, not being a commuter, I usually have no problem with the behaviour of motorists because we tend to avoid biking in places where the car is king. Having said that, we also do use our bikes to get around our own suburb – down to the supermarket or the local café – and we do have to be wary of cars trying to overtake where there isn’t enough room, especially when cars are parked on both sides of the road on streets that are too narrow for this.

The battle between motorists and cyclists rages on, as discussed in yesterday’s article in the Dominion Post, “Road rage and bikelash: the battle for our city streets”. Some of the comments make for interesting reading. It does seem like a battle − how much better would it be if everyone would try to see things from the other person's point of view and be a little less selfish.