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In cities across Europe, there is a popular graffiti stencil with a simple, if somewhat crude, message.
Next to a picture of a bicycle is the text: “THIS ONE RUNS ON FAT AND SAVES YOU MONEY”.
Next to a picture of a car: “THIS ONE RUNS ON MONEY AND MAKES YOU FAT”.
For those familiar with Brussels, the pedestrianised Boulevard Anspach sports such a stencil (presuming city authorities haven’t washed it away by now).
The message is part of a cycling culture that holds bicycles up as the solution to a myriad of societal ills (the medium of the message reinforces urban cyclists’ self-perception as vaguely counter-cultural, every two-wheeled journey a small rebellion against the dominance of cars).
Within this culture, bicycles are the solution to our sedentary lifestyles. They are the solution to reducing noise pollution from traffic and making streets safer. And above all, they are the solution to the environmental issues posed by private vehicles, from air pollution to climate change.These truths, to paraphrase America’s founding fathers, are held to be self-evident.Usually, critics of cyclists go after their bad behaviour, such as breaking red lights or riding on pavements.However, recent newspaper articles have aimed to turn cycling’s climate credentials on their head. The unassailable green bona fide of bicycles is being assailed.A column in the Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung has made a bold […]
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