My friend Bob in Portland--ceaseless searcher for Bigfoot, among other interests--sends me this image from his friend, who had recently returned from Europe. She writes:
Yep, Brugge, Thursday, 3/29 about 10 am. I wish the bike parking photo did justice; I think the bikes took up half the lot.
Not trenchant because it's so obvious: when I went to Amsterdam in '89 I was thrilled by all the bikes; this time they seemed even more knit into the fabric of urban life. And this time it made me sad to live in a city that can't look at Amsterdam or Belgium or any other intelligent city and see how valuable fostering this kind of transportation is. In Amsterdam, street parking is 8 euro an hour and they are about to outlaw it in the city center.
People are on the streets, businesses are thriving, and folks are healthy and happy. Here in New York City, FedEx, UPS and the NYPD treat bike lanes as reserved parking; and residents grow prematurely old breathing exhaust, stressing from traffic noise, and dodging aggressive drivers who feel entitled to run anything down to escape their gridlocked fate.
I'm totally nursing the idea of going back and doing a low countries bike tour; it's all flat, beautiful, and full of people who respect two-wheel transportation.
Image: Elizabeth Peters. Train station bike parking facility in Bruge (Brugge), Flemish area of Belgium.