Here are a few news stories that caught my eye:
From ASAHI SHIMBUN comes a story about very sensible new bike related laws taking effect in Japan:
Proposed revisions this spring will ban cyclists from holding an umbrella, listening to music, gabbing on the phone and riding in other reckless ways, sources said.
In particular, wearing headphones while listening to a music player or talking on the phone and steering with one hand will be banned.
"Triple-riding," an unsafe practice in which a rider carries two children on a bicycle in attached front and rear seats, will also be prohibited.
Parents will be required to ensure their children wear helmets while riding their own bicycle or when riding as a single passenger on a bike.
Other more minor infringements, such as constantly ringing a bicycle bell while riding on a crowded sidewalk, will also be discouraged.
Of course some of our friends in London, Seattle, and Portland may see more of a need for brollies than we do. Speaking of Portland, the New York Times had a piece about efforts there to prevent bicycle traffic fatalities. While I applaud these efforts, I would also like to see bikes viewed as real vehicles, at least in city centers where speed limits could be set at 15 or 20mph. That is, they should occupy a full traffic lane, as does a motorcycle or scooter.
“Ghost bikes,” riderless and painted white, were placed at two busy intersections in Portland, Ore., last October, makeshift memorials to two bicyclists killed when they were hit by trucks in accidents that month.
This spring, at those same intersections and at 12 others across the city, “bike boxes” will be laid out on the roadway to provide a clearly designated place for cyclists, in front of and in full view of drivers, to wait for traffic lights to change. The boxes will be marked with signs and wide stripes alerting drivers to stop behind them at red lights.The Europeans really know how to encourage bike use. From the very very cool Copenhagen Bike Culture Blog:
Employees in the southern region of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration [Statens Vegvesen] are rewarded for riding their bikes or walking to work. They can look forward to an extra week of holiday per year.And:
Senior Engineer Rune Gunnerød rides to work more or less all year round. The right clothes, a good bike and good, cleared bike lanes have made it possible - now it is just pure pleasure.
The offer from Vegvesenet is part of a larger environmental strategy. Employees who bike or walk to work recieve 4 hours free each month and that adds up to a week of holiday in the course of a year. In addition, the employees must exercise four hours a month in order to qualify.
In Denmark, the Socialistisk Folkeparti [SF] - one of the nation's largest political parties - has always been known for it's environmentally friendly policies and proposals.
They came up with a clever one eariler this year, aimed at reducing illness. In short, reducing VAT on healthy foods and paying people to ride their bike to and from work.
Danes should be healthier and illness should be prevented rather than treated. SF proposed paying cylists 1.78 kroner [€0.23 / $0.36] per kilometre to commute by bike. Companies and the city would pay the wage which should be tax-free for workers and tax-deductable for companies.