13. September 2022

The Bike, Your True Sport Utility Vehicle

SUVs with four wheels? Zero sport utility, questionable utility for the climate, questionable use of limited space in cities, and on top of that a danger to pedestrians. An opinion in favour of making Switzerland friendlier for the bike, your one true sport utility vehicle.

Having cycled in Munich, Stockholm, London, Zurich, albeit often infrequently, I have collected subjective experience on navigating cities by bike. The experience was usually mixed.

I remember Munich as being full of dangerous spots where cars may turn right at any given moment, without a moment’s notice, and thus run straight onto your projected trajectory. That is, unless you cycle through the car-free axis along the river or the English Garden, which is what I usually did to avoid the nasty right turns and the many parked cars. To be fair, I haven’t cycled in Munich for about a decade or longer, so hopefully things have improved a little bit.

London requires practice and knowledge, is full of multi-lane roads and one-way streets. London forces cyclists to compete with Chelsea tractors (SUVs) if you ever find yourself in the undesirable situation of having to find your way through that neighbourhood. But there are plenty of places to go in London that aren’t Chelsea, so that speaks for London. But besides such tractors,there are mindless pedestrians to reckon with. Still, on the upside, you may get rewarded with epic routes such as cycling along The Mall towards Buckingham Palace, shared with taxis and horse-drawn carriages. See also: Cycling in London.

Among Zurich’s unique challenges, I must name trams, hills, narrow cycle paths, one-way streets, and way too much traffic. In all fairness, I have not explored Zurich sufficiently by bike, but must say that my attempts so far weren’t filling me with large amounts of joy. It feels that this city is still offering so much more to cars than to bikes.

In an attempt to make the situation improve, help cyclists get better conditions in Switzerland, I have thus donated to Pro Velo Schweiz (for each 25 metres climbed in the Swiss Peaks 360 challenge). May their work help inspire more people (including myself) in the future to stop pouring money into (four-wheeled) SUVs, get on the bike, set the policy towards a bike-friendlier Switzerland, assist in slowing down climate change, and do something good for one’s health. The sooner, the better.