24 October 2013

Vicious Cycle

The United States of America is still learning to ride a bike.

In the US, it is common to associate bicycles with danger, antiquated ideas, and annoyance. In many American cities, the rhetoric about bikes has become warlike. Bicycles are the enemy of cars and the dominant way of life.

However, this issue is a great example of the saying, "Life is what you make it." If we want to see bikes as an enemy, that's what they'll turn into and remain, but we can also create a world where bicycles are an important, seamlessly integrated part of a better life. The following video of bicycle usage in Amsterdam opens our eyes to such an alternate reality:

Bicycle Anecdotes from Amsterdam from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

So many things in the video are remarkable. First, the number of bicycles is amazing. They, not cars, are the preferred (and sometimes only) mode of transportation. Second, the bicyclists aren't dressed for a space mission (they don't even wear helmets), suggesting they lack the fear we have of getting on bikes. Third, the flow of the whole society is simply stunning. People are connected to, in tune with, and responsive to each other, and even five-year-olds pick up on that flow. Cars and bikes are not at war. Clearly, people in Amsterdam are on a much different cycle than Americans.

With regard to the place of bicycles in society, the US is still using training wheels, and the video above makes it obvious that this is a self-inflicted, self-perpetuated state.

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