Locking your bike, unlocking it, putting the seat cover on, taking it off.
Cycling to go to work, to school, to the grocery store, to the gym, to the restaurant. Cycling with a suit, with high heels, under the rain, under the sun.
Bike trail, bike route, bike lane, bike highway.
It is no surprise for anyone that Denmark has a strong cycling culture. This is part of the charm of this country… and its specificity. But if in Denmark it is difficult to survive without a bike, in France it is difficult to survive if you do ride a bike.
It seems that French people see cycling as a sport more than a means of transportation: being sandwiched between cars and buses on the streets scares more than one Frenchie off. However, not everyone is against importing the Danish bike syndrome to France.
This morning in Le Monde, one of France’s biggest newspaper, an interesting story was featured in the blog section: “Activists draw fake bike lanes”. The story was framed as if these “bike activists” were starting a war to fight for their cycling rights, as silly as it might sound. Their weapons? Paint cans, paint rollers and a stencil to draw a bike with the white paint. Apparently the hostilities started in Toulon, in the South of France, and little after the lane was drawn by the activists, it attracted many bike lovers.
A couple of days later, the road officers retaliated and covered the lane with black paint. The funny thing is that in between, local government officials had cut red ribbons with big pairs of scissors at fake openings organized by the activists for the legal lanes drawn officially but never released -probably because no one care about cycling lanes in the municipality. Trapped in their own naivety and convinced by the lobbyists, the officials had no choice but to finally draw official bike lanes in the city over the clandestine routes. A victory for the true cyclists after their “commando operation” as the journalist of the Le Monde ironically called the sham.
As for me I will miss putting on my sushi-to-go boxes on my bike and seeing my friends transporting a double bed on their bikes when I go back to France… Let’s hope by then I will be able to ride my cute little bike in my home country safely!
Photo credit: Le Monde & Fanny Chays