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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cyclists Not Welcome in Valencia


The hostile campaign against cyclists continues in Valencia with police now targeting bikers for drunk “driving.”  Once again you have to applaud the city government for trying to solve a problem that never existed. The truly sad thing about this is that many citizens—none of whom have ridden a bike in their adult lives—seem to be in agreement with the police as they single out people on bikes for infractions. Meanwhile, Valencia continues to allow car drivers to do pretty much whatever the hell they want. If you were to observe any traffic light in town you would see an almost infinite number of violations throughout the day.

One practice that I find particularly obnoxious is the completely accepted custom here in Valencia for drivers to begin to drive through the light before it has even changed to green. This is something that is as much a habit here as accelerating through yellow traffic lights. I have never seen the police ticket a driver for this potentially lethal practice yet cyclists are being handed 200€ fines for riding on sidewalks at pedestrian speeds.  So police turn a blind eye to opposing vehicles racing through an intersection but are putting their foot down concerning cyclists sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians.  

Valencia should take a look at cities in Europe that have adopted the bicycle as a legitimate means of transportation. All of those cities are better off than Valencia in so many obvious ways that it almost seems silly to list them.  The city could provide a lot of other, more useful city services if they didn’t have to keep building more roads and parking facilities but instead local leaders have decided to all but stamp out the nascent bicycle culture in Valencia.

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