Some still don't consider the bicycle a proper vehicle! An open letter to Ebay and Blocket

Dear Ebay, (Dear Blocket,)

After many years of loyal service, I have just decided that my bicycle needs replacing. Too much of a cheap-Dutch, and too busy (read lazy) to renovate, I went on Ebay to find an affordable newer model. I have been browsing your website (and that of Blocket, Sweden’s largest second-hand website). Both you and Blocket don’t categorize bicycles as vehicles, but rather as toys or fitness products. So, according to you, cycling is just a sport and only motorized vehicles are considered to be “proper” vehicles. I believe, however, that it is time to change that and take the bicycle seriously, as a mode of transportation.

As an urban planner/scholar, I'm quite interested in traffic issues. And, although I drive my car from time to time, I believe that cycling should be promoted as much as possible. It is cheaper than a car or public transport ticket, keeps one in good shape (so you might even save some gym money), and is better for the environment. Considering that we live in a time where climate-change and the rising costs of healthcare are regularly making headlines, promoting sustainable transportation should be a priority.

One of the major obstacles for bicycles to become an alternative to the car is that many are not taking it seriously as a vehicle. For too many people around the world, it is still seen as just a workout machine or a toy. Bicycle infrastructure is, compared to that of the car, highly underdeveloped. A vulnerable cyclist is too often forced to share space with motorized transportation, resulting in (deadly) injuries (see for instance: Bikes vs. Cars). In that way, the physical infrastructure of cities demonstrates that cycling was, and is often still, not considered important enough to plan for.

Cities around the world are increasingly acknowledging the potential of cycling, and massive investments are being made in proper infrastructure. Therefore, I would like you to consider moving bikes to the "vehicle" section, and contribute to the mentality shift that cycling is no less than driving a car. Who knows, it might even contribute to a healthier society.


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Written by Sascha Benes. Follow him on Twitter and Linkedin