Friday, November 2, 2007

Dutch nation wracked by Bike Light controversy


The Dutch are in open revolt against plans thought up by some council of police chiefs to fine people for having "substandard" lights on their bikes.

Only in Holland!

Rewind a few years.

In the old days, every Dutch bike was outfitted little generator on the side of your tire that was supposed to power a little light on the front and back of your bike. (you can see one of those generators in the photo above, just below the fender).

And either the light would break, or the wires would get torn, or the generator would be too loosely pressed against the tire to work.
And if it all actually did work, then you would have to pedal about 10 times as hard as normal because the generator was pressed so hard against the side of the bike.
In any case, you'd get your hands greasy flicking the generator back and forth in the morning or evening.

So when the police first started ticketing people (EUR50 a pop) for not having working lights on their bikes (like 2001?), vendors saw a gap in the market. They started selling little battery powered lights that you could mount to your bike or better, clip on to your clothes.

These have advanced quickly over the years to become cheaper, and most of them have the option to flicker, and some are colored. Basically they've become expression of a person's individuality and freedom of choice while achieving the basic aim of not getting hit by cars.

(a short clip of bikes crossing near the Museumplein Thursday night. I've figured out how to compress videos by the way, so my page should load faster in the future.)

After the clocks were set back for Daylight Savings Time last weekend, the cops began their annual warning/ticketing campaign. But this time, for no apparent reason other than that they are fascists, the top cops said they wouldn't accept anything but unblinking lights, attached to the bike, white on the front and red on the back.

This morning, one newspaper had a story about how even some police officers were refusing to enforce the rule, and by tonight, it was the top story on the six o' clock news.

The Interior Affairs minister, Guusje ter Horst sensing that this was a stinking loser, politically, said that the country should have just one rule.

"The most important thing is that you're visible. I'm already happy if a biker has any kind of light."

(photo: sindandune)

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