It does become rather wearisome, hearing how Copenhagen had lost virtually all of its cycling by the late 1960s, before clawing its way back from nothing. People are told this supposed fact, to be primed ready for instructions on how to reenact history. Most, it would seem, have recently been touched by Jan Gehl. Gehl’s whole routine depends on convincing folk that their shitty dump cities are exactly as Copenhagen once was, before someone (surely not Gehl himself?) step-by-step rebuilt the bike share.
But look at this photo of Copenhagen in 1964. You could hardly say cycling has disappeared. I can count more bikes here than cars, and there are certainly lots of pedestrians. To my eye, this looks like a population ready to vote for more footpaths and bike paths. It’s certainly not a city with a modern Australian or American bike share, of 2 or 3% max. The political reality in countries like mine, today, is very different from that of Denmark or the Netherlands 4 decades ago.
Cycling has been marginalised, and so must look to the margins. Our activists’ limited energies aught not be spent contesting main streets that drivers lay greater claim to each time they vote. Our efforts would be better spent lobbying for high density affordable housing and public facilities (all with no parking) near to networks of bike paths on rail easements, waterways and reserves. I would rather move away from the cars altogether.