Saturday 16 August 2008

Reclaiming the streets

We've now lived in Assen for nearly a year. It's been the most peaceful year of cycling in my life. No-one has tooted a horn aggressively at me, no-one has driven their car at me, no-one has shouted at me in the street in an aggressive way.

This is surely a large part of why people cycle to such an extent in this city. It's a very pleasant thing to do, whether day or night, hot or cold, wet or dry. In effect, the streets are socially 'reclaimed' by cyclists at all times.

We've had several events in this city this year which have involved closing streets to cars. The Jeugdtour, held in Assen each year, is the world's biggest youth cycling event, and attracts participants from all around the world. This is serious racing. One of the Swedish competitors this year followed on with a silver medal in the Beijing Olympics. Anyway, this is but one of the events for which streets are closed to cars.

I've also seen closures for the fietsvierdaagse, a four day recreational cycling event which attracts a wide range of people from young to old, for musical events, walking events etc.

I like the attitude that the streets exist to serve the people instead of merely to serve the automobile.

The photo at the top shows friends riding two of the 107 bikes on the recent historical bicycles ride. A few streets were closed in one of the outlying villages for this event too, though in this photo they're on a bike path. I made a video:

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