I was trolling the internet for something interesting to write about, and it seemed like there was a really good mix of international news.
In the US, there was the usual bunch of charity rides, fatal accidents involving cars, and a couple of shootings. I rarely even read about the shootings, since it’s usually a guy who happens to be on a bicycle, as opposed to an actual cyclist.
In the UK, what caught my eye was an article about a “rare” bike that was stolen recently. When I first saw that, I was thinking of one of Dave Moulton’s beautiful handcrafted bikes, perhaps with some history to it. Imagine how disappointed I was to find out that it was only a Kona Stab Deluxe mountain bike. I guess that’s rare over there.
In India, the United Cycle parts Manufacturers Association has approached the government in an appeal to save their cycling industry. Anyone that follows international finance should be familiar with China’s underhanded dealings, wherein they artificially suppress the value of their currency to make their exports more attractive to other countries. Since India’s rupee is rising against the the US dollar and British pound, their exports cost more, while their Chinese imports are cheaper. Now, I’m not interested in a political discussion, but the net result is that the value of India’s exports have dropped by nearly 30%. This is a serious blow to that segment of the cycling industry.
In South Africa, a young girl by the name of Vanessa Jegels was given a gift that she could previously only dream about. A group called Reach For A Dream recently donated a bike (actually a large trike) to her. She was born with a birth defect that affected her spine, and not too long ago had surgery that allowed her to go from a wheelchair to crutches. Now she is riding a bicycle. If that’s not a great story, I don’t know what is.
Paris, France is getting rental bikes! Hey, they can’t produce a tour winner, (don’t they have EPO over there?) but they’ll make sure no one is without a bike. The mayor of Paris is having 750 bike rental stations put in all over the city. We’re talking 10,648 bikes here, folks. The goal is to have 1,400 stations with over 20,000 bikes available by January. That works out to never being more than about 900 feet from a cheap rental. And they even get the first 30 minutes free. The entire cost of the program is being underwritten by an advertising company in exchange for 1,600 billboards around the city. It would be great to see that kind of leverage put to use in the US and other countries.
Finally, we stop in Mexico City. Back in April, the mayor decreed that all city employees had to ride to work one day each month. And he was serious. Four months into the program, he’s gone so far as to close downtown to vehicular traffic on Sundays. The result was that tens of thousands of people head downtown on their bikes. All this without even one critical mass. There are also plans to put in 186 miles of bike lanes (sorry John and Serge) and the World Bank even ponied up $100,000 to help get the master plan rolling. Again, we can only hope this is contagious.