- Bicycle Culture by Design: A new story of our lives….

...Thats what we need.

The new government is admirably determined to build a congestion-ring, around Copenhagen City. For the first time in since the oil-crisis in the early seventies, and the car-free Sundays, Danish motorists are under  fire. Was the state of our tasteless self-indulgence and waste of natural resources not so catastrophic, it would be quite amusing to observe how closely aligned the excuses of smokers and motorists are. Except second hand car-driving kills twice as many as second hand smoking.

Photo: Steven Depolo

Fact is that only a small insignificant number of people drive, because they did a thorough analysis. Some are genuinely forced to, as we for sixty years build our infrastructure to favour cars over all other modes of transportation. That’s something we need to address, and strangely the government does not realize this, and specifically the Social Democrats as they continue to invest heavily on freeways, car parking and bridges. Rather than reprioritizing and making up for lost time, during the last six decades, to build better bike and public transportation infrastructure.

Sorry, I get carried away, back to the rational choice, few make it, not unique to motorists, that’s just who we are. We believe we make rational choices, after careful deliberations, well in most cases we don´t, and that’s fine, as long as we don´t pretend and rationalize after the fact.

We need politicians who acknowledge this, who have the courage, as it seems our government do have in the case of the congestion-ring, to ease our choices in a more rational and healthy direction.

And then there is one more thing we can do, because apart from 5% fact, analysis and intelligence, we base our choices on the stories we tell, the symbols we use to construct our identity, the value negotiation we constantly have with our surroundings.

We need to put first things first, an old President Carter address to the nation, reminded me of this, a really courageous speech, which I am sure stripped him of all commercial campaign contributions

We need to reemphasize the importance of well functioning personal networks, close knit communities, our families our health, rather than obsessing with quick fixes & instant gratification, material prestige, addiction to fossil fuels, economic growth and abundant fatty, sweet and meat foods.

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Today our life stories are told by the marketing machines of multinational consumer good and foods companies write our histories, the billion dollar advertising budgets, ensures their stories are heard more often than that of our intellectuals, our novelists like Emerson, the Picasso´s of our day. Even the bicycle manufacturers and similar industries with a mostly positive influence on societies, are not heard thru the wall of marketing noise of Nestlé, Bacardi, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Shell.

Photo: by Sergio Maistrello

We cannot rely on our communities suddenly becoming rational, and probably, that would present its own set of problems, we can neither expect people not be influenced by advertising. But I believe the stories of our lives, of the people close to us matters more. We can thru each of our own actions change the stories, we can ignore the marketing noise, when we teach our children to bike safely on their way to school every morning, we we put carrots and low fat milk in their bag-pack, when we encourage them to run and play ball, rather than play wii or watch Disney channel. And the great thing about it, the car is such a big part of family economy, that if you get rid of it, your budget will not need you to work as much, their will be work-positions for more people, you will have more time to tell the important stories to your children, to enjoy teaching them to bike, listening to the birds, when you drive them in the cargo bike. 

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