Javol, mein Führer!

January 11th, 2007

The Nazis were out in force today. As I was returning from the grocery store, which is a few blocks away, I watched in horror how a cop was writing this woman a ticket for not having a light on her bike. His partner was loitering in wait for another victim. Thankfully I was on foot, but I halfway expected to be pulled over myself, even though there didn't seem to be any reason for it. The horror, I come to the end of the block and there too there's cops. I glance across the street in one of those "what would I have done" moments and I see more cops. It's a trap.

It's obvious they're trying to catch as many people as possible. Dressed in black, you don't seem them from far away and it's just after dark, so they're stopping a lot of people who probably thought they would be home before dark. And for what? I could understand this rule about lights after dark. If you live on a farm. Or cycling cross country through a forest. Then it would be impossible to see you. But this is a city, the streets are relatively well lit, and there are no high speed roads, no big intersections, and no speeding by motorists.

Fining bikers for not having lights is akin to fining soldiers for having dirty uniforms after battle. In fact, maybe if bike theft wasn't so rampant, people would actually have nicer bikes, with lights, brakes and the works. How about doing something that? Then you'd actually be helping us.

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9 Responses to "Javol, mein Führer!"

  1. erik says:

    Good point. I hate those sting operations that you know is only cause they need more money gah.

    But the lights on bicycle thing is a big problem. I've read the reports on bicycle-accident related deaths on an annual basis and the figures are startling. You yourself admitted visibility from a car is pretty bad, especially when it's raining and dark: I've almost hit cyclists without lights *numerous* times while driving myself. You just can NOT see them coming.
    And very few of them cyclists are skilled enough to be able to pull off cycling without a light.

    Not saying that fining is the way to tackle the problem. I agree the theft and vandalism of bikes are the main causes and they're doing zilch about those problems.

    But a helmet-law in the Netherlands is just as likely as a gay-marriage law in Texas.

  2. Piet says:

    To compare this with Nazism is very lame. These persons get fined and can walk away. In Nazi Germany, you (or even your relatives) would be at risk to be beaten, detained, tortured or even killed on a mass scale. Please take a look here for you make such claims:
    http://www.katardat.org/marxuniv/2002-SUWW2/Images/images08-nazicruelties.html

    Besides you are permitted by law to have a working light at all times. It is your own responsibility if you choose to break that law.

  3. numerodix says:

    A helmet *culture* rather than a helmet law would make a whole lot more sense. In Norway biking is a lot more dangerous since we have *hills* and in winter the roads are icy and stuff. There is a strong culture for helmets, one that I never subscribed to actually, but it makes sense. Especially people who bike a lot tend to have helmets.

    Cars vs bikes depends on where you are, though. Not having a light on your bike I would say is definitely a bigger hazard in some places in Trondheim than it is in Utrecht. I mean the car traffic here is sort of choked, there are no heavy throughput roads. I guess they have successfully limited the amount of car traffic in the city to a certain level. If you live in a city where there's more intense car traffic, then it's a much bigger issue.

  4. numerodix says:

    I'm not comparing it to Nazism, it's just an expression.

    And just because something is a law doesn't mean it's per definition a good idea. Or it doesn't mean that it's a law that should be enforced. Laws are created for all kinds of reasons, stating your argument in terms of the law does not make your opinion any more convincing.

    Besides, if I did have a working light on my bike "at all times" and someone stole that light, _breaking the law_, then the only reason I would be breaking the law is because someone infringed upon my ability to follow the law. How is that then my fault?

  5. erik says:

    Well Utrecht might be one of the safest places in that regard I suppose. But in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and even The Hague you couldn't catch me cycling without lights on: dead dangerous. As for the rest of the country: the countryside is traditionally poorly lit and cycling without light is just asking for trouble. Especially because most Dutch people cycle like lunatics: always in a hurry, quickly cross the road, that type of thing. That'll go well maybe 8 times out of 10 but at some point, if you're poorly visible, you will get hit.

  6. numerodix says:

    Lunatics? Are friggin kidding me? You're all lambs. I come off as the stuntman here, everyone stops at a red light even when there's no traffic, I go right through. And I time my crossing just so I will make right after the last car has gone by.

  7. erik says:

    Well sure, you also have bicycle lanes downtown, we don't here in M. It's a mess. Then of course there's the truckload of cycling tourists...

  8. Sigh says:

    Get a light and quit your crying.

  9. King says:

    get a life