2120305012_aa4c6e551fFrom flying buttresses to fine teas to mandatory nap-time regimes for all ages, it’s no secret that Europeans are better at life than us. Just ask that sorority girl who always manages to sit in front of you during your Women’s Studies seminar who, as you and anyone within a 20-yard vicinity are all-too aware by now, spent her spring semester nibbling crudités with Gérard Depardieu in the south of France.

San Franciscans seem to agree, at least in the realm of cycling.

Reps from the Municipal Transportation Commission, BART, and the ever-omnipotent SF Municipal Transportation Authority sat down yesterday with a gaggle of bicycling advocates, using European urban planning tactics to blueprint improvements for bike commuters.

In other words, a convention of Bay Area fixie-snobs wishing they lived in Amsterdam.

Three years in the making, the initiative includes striping bike lanes and improving bike rack security. Methods of coping with bully motorists are also in the works. While our two-wheeled tantrums have failed to get the message across, perhaps a hip public service campaign (or a sharp influx in meter prices) would really serve to stick it to that Audi-driving, suspender-wearing bald man whose life’s ambition appears to be running you out of his lane.

You know Baldy, cyclists can speak middle-management jargon too. See the deposition we just faxed you from the ample storage unit above our rear tire for more expletives.

We all know San Franciscans can talk the talk until they’re green and 100 percent sustainable in the face. And yes, bike programs are the cheap way out of building a new highway. But will a simple infrastructure plan motivate would-be bike commuters to really pedal to the metal?

The panelists flown in from Holland, Belgium and Denmark by the German Marshall Fund remain skeptical. Dutch bicycle advocate Hans Voerknecht insists that the plan’s success hinges not only on a sizable financial investment, but an ideological one. Be it our chronic fear of bikes polluting the streets at rush hour, or our tendency to measure success by the make of our luxury vehicles, the European bicycle experts seem to view our efforts to increase ridership as a royal waste of everyone’s time.

As always, we remain optimistic and pedaling. After all, inciting road rage is half the fun of braving the asphalt jungle.

Image Source: = xAv = under Creative Commons
Europeans School Bay Area Transportation Agencies on Bike Plans [SFAppeal]

Hans Voerknecht said:
Oct 11, 2009 at 2:32 pm


Great article. Though we did not say that your efforts were a waste of time. On the contrary, you’re doing great things with little money. But if you look at the enormous effect of the deficit on physical movement due to the sedential life we live and the enormous effects it would have if we just replace a serious amount of car use by bicycle movements (be it only for the trips up to 3 miles), than a more sizeable effort would be logical.

Hans Voerknecht

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Mar 24, 2013 at 10:15 am

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