Photo by ascendeddaniel via flickr.
Because the bike is one of the most efficient forms of transportation ever devised by man, it is sometimes hard for us hard-riding bicycle proponents to remember that not everybody loves bicycles. In fact, escalating road rage shows just how much some people can't abide bikes. What's amazing is that so many places exist in the world where it is actually illegal to ride a bike. Perhaps the funniest example is Baldwin Park, California, where it is prohibited to ride a bike in a swimming pool, while the saddest is the injunction against Saudi Arabian women bikers. Read on for wild and crazy rules keeping bikers from their bikes.
Here's one interstate where cycling is allowed. Photo richardmasoner via flickr.
1. On U.S. Roads and InterstatesThat many interstate freeways have prohibited cycling (and other slower traffic) makes sense, when you first think about it. On the other hand, to take such huge swathes of road away from the most efficient riders is also, when you think about it a second time, absurd. Not that city cyclists would want to mix with swift-moving traffic. Just that maybe we should rethink the laws that make car centrism so predominant, and possibly leverage some of the area around those swathes for protected bikes paths, too.
In awful precedent, in Johnson County, Iowa, a petition is currently being circulated to ban all bikes from roads considered 'farm to market,' (state or country roads that connect rural or agricultural areas to market tows) because "shared roadways are no longer safe or practical in today's society." That would deny a significant portion of the less-trafficked roads cyclists and motorists now share to bicycles, and one imagines increase motor traffic. As a side note, while the article on this banning provision states 698 cyclists were killed on U.S. roads in 2007, it fails to mention that in 2008, 43,313 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents.
Photo Daily NK.
2. In North Korea (For Women)Since the mid-1990s, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has declared it illegal for women to ride bicycles. Since 70% of households own a bike, there's undoubtedly a lot of illegal riding, as bikes for transport and to aid the commerce at local markets is well-known. Enforcement of Kim Jong Il's purported ruling banning females on bikes is said to be uneven, and involves a fine, rather than directly jail time. Bicycles were also banned up until the '90s in the capital city of Pyongyang.
3. In Saudi Arabia, Women Can't Drive or BikeWhile it's hard to fathom, Saudi Arabian women are forbidden from driving or cycling 'on public roads.' According to this Utne story, Saudi clerics considered bicycles 'the Horse of Satan" back in the 1960s, and author Marwan Kraidy says a permit was required to ride one. Things have changed, of course, but gas is cheap and cars are king. The official injunction doesn't mean women never drive or bike, simply that they aren't sanctioned activties, though economic conditions may eventually allow these rules to be softened.
(Photo from the We the Women campaign for giving women the right to drive. Site expired 2012)