When a 20 minute drive took me an hour just recently it got me thinking about this movie: "Brussels Express" which features the issues of a major European city overburdened by vehicle traffic and the stories of the bike messengers who weave their way through the gridlock.
This is a story about our growing dependency on cars to get around and a few brave souls who negotiate the busy roads on bicycles. It is also a story about our priorities and the importance of urban planning and education.
“And then there is one major reason for the lack of bicycle traffic, lots of people used to ride bikes in Brussels. It is only due to the choice, what I call modernism, the wrongful prioritization of vehicular mobility as the ultimate mode of transportation, the investments made in car roads and the relentless promotion of cars that people switched to cars. Here in Brussels this coincided with the elimination of many bicycle paths. There were decent bicycle paths on the beltway and boulevards”
- Brussels express
Interestingly, if a little off topic, I remember when growing up all the neighbourhoods had footpaths on both sides of the road. Now I live in a modern development which has no footpaths at all, and the residents have to walk along the road with the cars to get to a park or to the corner shop. Mum's with prams, dog walkers, kids on skateboards and cars sharing a narrow road.
Later in life I regularly rode an 80km bike commute and rarely crossed paths with another cyclist. Hopefully our attitudes and priorities can shift to a more sustainable reality.
The plus side is that when the oil does finally run out we will have some awesome bike paths to get around on!