Color me pessamistic

They are having a meeting -- in Merida -- about the more democratic use of public spaces, emphasising that the city “should not be held hostage by motor vehicles”.

As a boy, growing up in a small town, my bike was my best friend. And while living in Amsterdam in the 60s my bike became more than a best friend; it became a necessity. And there was a special train car for carrying one’s bike between cities and villages. And it was free.

The road to Aachen

Until, I started out on icy roads one weekend, searching for the distant city of Aachen, the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, a trip that ended in disaster. My bike and my body were severely bruised and crushed. The bike was left there in the bike hospital morgue, and I returned to The Hague without seeing Charlemagne’s chair, or tomb or any Medieval relic. He’s buried there in the cathedral.

Holland’s love affair with the bicycle is logical. It’s flat, as Merida is, with almost perfect conditions for bike transport.

EXCEPT: for the arrogant macho mentality of those behind the wheel of an automobile or bus. They’re crazy. I know because my first two years in Merida were spent on a bike. I was a novelty when I tied my racing bike to a tree in Parque Hidalgo. Stupid Gringo ! But I live to tell the story.

It was mentioned in this week’s Meeting of Mexican Cities of the Ibero-American Center for Urban Strategic Development, here in Merida, that the City of Stockholm has more bikes than cars. And it seemed, when I lived in Amsterdam - that city certainly had more bikes than cars.

The truth is that Merida is becoming more and more friendly to bike users with special days, attractions and surfaces marked for bikes only.

Aachen Cathedral

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