COLIN NICHOL has just fallen off his bike, again.
TWO million dollars, including grants, is being spent by Fremantle council on making the city what mayor Brad Pettitt calls, “the Copenhagen of the South”. All good if that refers to emulating that country’s liveability and reputation as a safe city, but this is about its being the “best city for cyclists” and, you’re already ahead on this, it’s all about bicycles.
Cities around the world are said to be considering copying Denmark and with the prospect of Fremantle becoming the “bicycle heaven of the south” more than just extra bike lanes will be required.
Judging by present riding standards, it’s reassuring that lessons are planned to be a part of that campaign, while more bikes with a bell would also be an overdue advancement. Even that would not make walking safer unless the rider can work out which finger to use to ring the damn thing.
Central Fremantle’s problem with bikes, or more accurately cyclists, is there are not enough of those nice green lanes for them and little space to add more. But separating vehicles, cyclists and walkers is key to effective functionality of a cycle-oriented city and the City is working on that, hopefully without increasing the frustrations of motorists. Not getting carried away is the point, one must not take precedence over the other.
It’s already risky to walk the CBD without 360 degree eyes, when speed and silent running allow for no warning as riders whizz around corners and zig-zag footpaths and mall. Lights (lack of), is another worry. If Fremantle is to emulate Danish bike culture, the manners and skills of those “world’s best cyclists” should be adopted with it.
Even with the state government keen on the idea, bikes are but one issue among many and surely not a priority over control of security and vandalism in and around the city centre. This has lately exploded a couple of times around Arthur Head and gives rise to concerns over the side-effects of increased activation in that location.
Yes, the security situation in many parts of the metropolitan area has worsened and as a symptom of that, even bicycles have become a major security concern with so many having recently been reported stolen. But the wider situation should not be permitted to further encroach Fremantle. Security continues, indeed increases, to be a focal point for anxiety.
As for “Wonderful, wonderful, Copenhagen” (remember the song?), let it stay where it is, the landscape is more suited. Rather than trying to misfit Fremantle into another way of life, culture and clime, where bikes are the only common factor, rather than a “Copenhagen of the South”, we should concentrate on promoting Fremantle as the “Fremantle of the South”.