>considering cycling utopias


I have been showing a lot of cycling related videos from or about the Netherlands and Denmark. Amsterdam and Copenhagen may be the most bike friendly cities in the world or, at least, in the Western Hemisphere. And since I have never been to either city they function as Utopian cycling destinations for me, which probably means I have a false picture of their realities. False or not, here is another great look at Copenhagen from the Little Known Travel site:

There is some value in considering these kinds of cycling utopia scenarios if only to highlight the gap with our own scenarios. I say “our own” because if you are not living in Copenhagen or Amsterdam it is likely you are not living in a city designed nearly so well for cyclists. So, wherever you are you probably noticed some gaps with your own city and that of the video. Raising consciousness, as it were, is a good thing. It can lead to positive change over the long run.

What I find interesting is how cycling enthusiasts and, to some degree, just plain old commuters, speak of cycling in such glowing terms. They talk as if they have reached the shores of Valhalla or some kind of Nirvana. I imagine it was the same way for motorists decades ago. At one time a car was just about the most exciting thing a person could buy. Then came the personal computer and the Internet. But now people are acting like bicycling is this new, exciting, even transformative thing, even though bicycles have been around longer than cars. If anything it demonstrates that the car never fully replaced nor completely improved upon the bicycle. 

This rediscovery of the bicycle, if that is what it is, may end up being something akin to the Renaissance when those of the (then) modern world rediscovered and enthusiastically appropriated the great thinkers of the ancient world. This is not to say that the bicycle ranks with the brilliance of Plato or Aristotle, but one could say that the invention of the bicycle ranks as one of the best in all of history, a perfectly balanced and beautiful combination of form and function. What the movers and shakers of the Renaissance sought was harmony in thought, design, polity, business, and art. May we do so well.

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