Baghdad bans bicycles

Kinda says it all, doesn’t it? From AP, Feb. 23:

BAGHDAD – The Iraqi military on Saturday indefinitely banned all motorcycles, bicycles and hand-pushed and horse-drawn carts from the streets of Baghdad, a military spokesman said.

Although the reason for the motorcycle and bicycle ban was unclear, the decision for the carts came after a bomb hidden under a horse-drawn cart exploded in downtown Baghdad on Friday Feb. 22, killing three civilians.

The ban on motorcycles and bicycles goes into effect at dawn Sunday while the one on carts went into effect just after noon, said Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the chief Iraqi military spokesman for Baghdad.

See our last posts on Iraq and the WHY WE FIGHT.

  1. Bicycle-Free Baghdad
    From Carl Hultberg’s RagMag e-mail list:

    As of today, Sunday February 24, 2008, bicycles are prohibited from the streets of the capital of US occupied Iraq. As a symbol of the progress achieved by the American backed Iraqi government, the bicycle ban may be a first, on the worldwide scale, perhaps since Mayor Koch in 1987 attempted to ban bicycles (in particular minority bike messengers) from Fifth, Park and Madison Avenues in midtown NYC. The resulting swarming bicycle demonstrations up Sixth Avenue and down the “illegal” Avenues gave birth to the Critical Mass demonstrations worldwide. The name Critical Mass came from a comment NYC workbicycle/pedicab pioneer George Bliss made in the Return of the Scorcher video, while watching Chinese bicyclists building up numbers to penetrate a moving stream of motor vehicles without the benefit of a traffic light.

    Then again, looking back, there was also the confiscation and dumping of hundreds of Indonesian pedicabs in the 1980’s. In fact, pedicabs have been banned in a few communities. The bicycle taxi cabs used for years by Mr. Bliss in New York City, for example, had seen service in Hawaii and Miami before being made illegal and shipped on.

    The principal objection to pedicabs seems to be that they impede all important motor traffic, important or self important people who do not like to be delayed by less important people stopping to enjoy themselves in the open air. People getting where they want to go under their own power, without polluting are such a threat, on so many levels. The principal objection to the bicycles of Baghdad (sounds like a movie) is that they somehow facilitate the nearly daily rocket and mortar attacks on the US Green Zone castle from the “safer… and improved” streets of the city. (“Come With Me on My Rocketbike!”)

    That brings to mind another liberation struggle (are we allowed to call it that?), when the Vietnamese were also trying to shake off foreign occupation so they could finish their civil war. The Vietnamese used bicycles to haul cannons up mountain passes to blow the French out of Dien Bien Phu and they also used pedicabs to hide bombs to strike at US forces in Saigon.

    Nothing more dangerous than a bicycle. I just remember the slogan from the streets of NYC in 1986: “Don’t Mess With Messengers!”