Yesterday, I was unexpectedly bemused by a tweet from rock star urban mobility consultant Mikael Colville-Andersen.
May sound counterintuitive to some, but this is a sure sign of a healthy, mainstream bike culture https://t.co/h4vmdAd65Y
— M. Colville-Andersen (@copenhagenize) January 6, 2016
I read the article, read it again, read it once more and sent a short tweet back: ‘Why?’
Now, when it comes to social media or critiquing, I’m neither prickly nor obtuse. The question is quite genuine and driven by a need to understand the sentiment. I didn’t receive a response. In fairness, he’s a spectacularly active urban mobility consultant and probably has an inbox that resembles an office supply store that’s recently been sacked by Vikings. But the statement is bold, definitive, interesting and needs some substantiation.
So why do images of discarded bikes in a city canal give a sure sign of a healthy, mainstream bike culture? To my mind it suggests a number of other things;
- It could represent a lassaiz-faire attitude to dumping of municipal ‘waste’.
- It could represent a lack of respect for other people’s property.
- It could represent an act of protest at expenditure on the Paris Velib scheme (they were found among the bikes on the canal bottom).
- It could represent a lengthy time period between canal cleanups.
- The same situation could equally be repeated in urban areas not reknowned for a healthy, mainstream bike culture (and we’d only know by dredging them).
To my mind, a healthy bike culture would recycle – or upcycle – the components of these bikes in a manner successfully achieved by The Bristol bike project, the Cardiff cycle workshop and others. However, I’m willing to be corrected and the question still stands; Why? Any thoughts on the subject? (if so, please do comment below).
The final word on the matter should probably go to the Paris Mayor Celia Blauel:
‘If everyone mucks in and avoids throwing anything in the water, we might be able to swim in the canal in a few years, as in numerous other European cities.’
What a glorious thought.