“I take my two kids, twins, in this every day. But today I had to clear away a huge piece of a broken bottle that was on the pathway. It is just not so easy using bike all the time.”
Photographer’s notes: This rider and I were chatting for a while before the photo was taken. About the bike and family and trying to advocate for better pathways and addressing local politicians about the problems faced. We talked about a local politician, one of the few considered to be a strong advocate for cycling in the city.
I think, in many ways, every cyclist is an advocate. Just rolling along the road on two wheels is a statement about alternatives, a different life.
And there are some who press a little further forward. openly advocate, express satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Argue for something to be changed for the better.
For the better is an odd choice because it is often subjective. Whether a city works better if bikes are given free reign versus being integrated with motorised vehicles. Well, do not ask me, I want a bike dominated horizon, but it may not be fact, yet, that it is the only way. At this stage, maybe it is a heavily populated opinion. A developing opinion.
I am not a Brussels native. I come from abroad. When I was offered Belgium as a workplace, I really thought I was entering the bicycling nirvana. I expected racing cyclists to be everywhere, daily cyclists to fill the streets. In truth, it has been far less than I had hoped.
But I am encouraged to see advocacy in every cycling collective. In every group, there is one voice, or ten, expecting change. At times, when confronted with angry and impatient car drivers pressing the steel tonnage into the frail cycling passageways, that bicycling voice seems overwhelmed in the moment, pressed out by panic and fear of injury. Fortunately, the fear ebbs away, rational thought returns, reflection can occur, and advocacy regains its place.
Always ride a bike. And if you have to drive, respect the bike.