Pedal power

The latest model

The latest model

I like to welcome personally all new members of staff. Recently, I welcomed a Belgian colleague who, in a previous incarnation, had got actively involved in the campaign (in Belgian Wallonia) to get more people to use bicycles to get to work and to school. Since I come to work on my bicycle when I can, and since the Committee is actively engaged in getting its officials to walk, pedal or use public transport, the subject interested me and we got into a discussion. He pointed out that there is a direct correlation between prosperity and use of bicycles. He even gave me an example of two Belgian cities, Tournai and Courtrai, that effectively prove this. (In Tournai, under 3% of pupils go to school on a bike. In Courtrai, the figure is around 50%.) For poorer people, use of a bicycle is seen as an admission of lack of prosperity. For more prosperous people, use of the bicycle is seen as being ‘healthy’ and ‘responsible’. When I think back to the Giovanni Guareschi Don Giovanni stories I used to read, the Italian┬ávillagers in Emilia Romagna were always on bikes. Now it’s motorbikes and cars. On the other hand, in prosperous cities such as Bologna, bicycles have made a great comeback. It’s not only to do with relative prosperity, of course, but there is a great irony here nevertheless.

1 Comment

  1. Joanna Kyriakis

    14/09/2009 at 9:56

    Totally agree with your comments Martin. Lots of photos in the press in London of Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, frantically pedalling in and out traffic. blonde hair flying in the breeze, as he makes his way to work.

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