Last weekend, Arturas Zuokas, the Mayor of Vilnius in Lithuania, had himself filmed behind the controls of a tank crushing a Mercedes illegally parked in a bike lane. With the not very happy car owner standing by, Zuokas then swept up some of the debris, got onto his bicycle and pedaled off. Zuokas is, says the BBC, an “avid cyclist” and has made urging city residents to cycle more a priority while he has been in office.
Here’s the mayor doing what a number of cyclists have perhaps wished someone could do, rather than having to weave out into traffic:
The BBC Russian Service reporter in Vilnius, Aushra Radzeviciute, noted that “illegal parking is not a big problem in the city, but in its central streets it is strictly prohibited.” Zuokas was filmed in the tank last weekend for a Swedish TV series, 99 Things You Should Do Before You Die.”
My husband and our 14-year-old son Charlie are serious bike riders. One of their favorite places to ride is a tree-shaded bike trail out in New Jersey’s horse country where there’s lovely farms and rolling grassy hills. Most of the time, they ride in the neighborhoods around our town which is in an older suburb. This inevitably brings them into contact with vehicles whose owners presume that roads are for cars, trucks, etc. Granted, Charlie (who’s autistic) does sometimes ride too close towards the center of the street but sometimes that’s because he has to swing out around, you guessed it, a car. Charlie definitely understands about stopping at intersections, stop signs and red lights (not that drivers around here always do).
Cycling to work and for pleasure has so many benefits: You get somewhere (and on your old power) and you get a workout; you do the environment a favor; a bike is far more affordable than a car. Let’s hope Vilnius residents don’t just see the mayor’s action as a stunt but as a serious call to keep bike lanes opens so cyclists can actually use them.
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Photo by dylanpassmore