When one thinks of countries like Germany, Holland or Demark we hold them up as being the epitome of bicycle friendliness.
However, in this lengthy article in the German publication Spiegel apparently they have the same cyclist behavioral problems as anywhere else. Cyclists making their own rules, riding where ever they please. Ignoring red lights, riding on the sidewalk, or the wrong way on the street, etc., etc.
Cyclists are becoming more aggressive as they grow in numbers. One cyclist in Munich tried to stop another riding towards him on the wrong side of the road. Instead of stopping he punched the 43 year old on the arm and kept on going. The cyclist who thought he was doing the right thing was left with a bone fracture.
A typical experience from a car driver’s perspective is described as stopping at a red light and have cyclists pass on either side, some ride straight through the red light, others stop and block the way for both cars moving forward and pedestrians in the crosswalk.
Civility has gone and there is an attitude of every person for themselves. The writer suggests there is a sense of anonymity whilst in traffic that applies equally to cyclists; it is no longer necessary to be encased in steel and glass.
There is a “Me” attitude that can switch elegancies according to the mode of transport. A person will curse out the cyclist who gets in their way driving to work, and then the next day the same person on a bicycle will berate the driver who cuts him off, or the pedestrian who steps out in front of him.
That evening while strolling though the city he will become enraged at the cyclist who buzzes by on the sidewalk. And at any time this same person is likely to engage in any one of these behaviors himself.
Even in Denmark, a country always looked upon as a cyclist’s haven; they are not without their problems according to this article. Some cyclists ride too fast, ignore traffic lights, and so on and so on.
I’m not sure what the answer is. I feel it is not a just traffic planner’s problem, one of more bike lanes, and enforcement of the rules. It is a social issue of everybody getting along with everyone else.
Every time I watch one of those nature programs on Public Television, and I see the behavior of primates in the rain forest. I realize as far as the human species may have come technologically, it doesn’t take much for us to switch back to those primal instincts.