Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Major league vs. minor league attitude

While in North America, cyclists would rather bicker and fight among themselves over such trivial and secondary issues such as helmets or so-called scofflaw behaviour, to the point of actually drafting open letters to officially and publicly insult each other, Belgians are resolutely stepping into the 21st century with flair and avant-garde type of attitude.

The Commission Infrastructure de la Chambre, most probably a sub-committee of the parliament on infrastructure issues, is about to vote the right for cyclists to turn right on the red light. Neighbouring countries such as France, the Netherlands and Germany are all experimenting on the same vibe with no increase in accident rates. Of course! Cyclists there probably did not await the advent of a law to practice common sense... To be noted: Idaho already has a law allowing cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs.

Which puts them all on a whole other level, in major league, where structural aspects of society are being analysed and reviewed in order to promote cycling. They estimate that cyclists waste up to 20% of their time waiting stupidly for the green when they could simply roll the red (coast being clear of course), preserve that precious momentum and be home faster than those in tuna cans.

Meanwhile, back in minor league, bogus journalists cook up dishonest videos, based on which they produce shallow analysis, police cracks down on inoffensive behaviour, and the majority of Torontonian cyclists (or so it seems) moronically agree with the whole thing.

How does Montreal fare amid all this nonsense? As usual, we have our butt stuck in between: on cheek in upper league, one cheek in lower league.

The lower cheek: it seems that the police has given up on such crack downs and is adopting a "campagne de sensibilisation" attitude. So far, they've been distributing warnings to those cycling around while listening to music. Funny thing is cell phone on bikes is perfectly legal. Given the Bluetooth epidemy, one wonders how will the police sort out the geese from the gander.

However, there is some hope.
The upper cheek: on December 10th 2010,  the Loi 71 was adopted, updating the Code de la sécurité routière du Québec with, in my view two major changes:
1. The requirement to use cycle paths when present was dropped. One can cycle on the road despite the presence of bike paths.
2. The most important: municipalities can now officially organise bike circulation against traffic in secondary streets. This could mean against-traffic lanes which, anyways, was already the case all across the Plateau (too many to quote), the Mile-end (Clark) and the Ghetto (Milton).

That's nice, but what I would like to see is this:

Or this:

Even both at the same time:

On all residential and secondary streets.

Finally some candy for the eyes. City of Lille created a nice cycling pamphlet/guide. Note how displaying people riding against traffic with no helmet looks so normal and natural.

Damned froggies...

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