A Parisian bicycle tourist denounces the banks of the Oise “impassable” and attracts the wrath of Twitter
Stein van Oosteren is a committed cyclist and bike rider*. This 50-year-old Parisian, diplomatic attaché to Unesco, likes to discover new landscapes to explore by bike. This summer, he therefore decided to take the train, his bike under his arm to Creil, then to travel through our department along the Oise and its canal. “I wanted to scout the terrain to see if I could come back to it later with my wife: I am willing to overcome a few obstacles, but she less so”. Unfortunately, the verdict fell quite quickly: “I couldn’t tell the 12 million Ile-de-France residents that I have a very good cycling plan in the Oise for them, because that’s not true”. Because Stein van Oosteren is not just a cycling enthusiast, he is also an influencer of non-motorized two-wheelers. He is the author of “Why not the bike?” a book that has already been reprinted twice. And on Twitter, under the name of @Lcyclabe, he shares his great outings, like his unfortunate experiences. That’s what he did on 1er August, with videos that have already reached hundreds of thousands of views.
—Stein van Oosteren (@LCyclable) August 1, 2022
“My goal is not to make the buzzhe defends himself, even if when my posts and videos are seen, it’s very good, because it helps to attract attention”explains the promoter of soft locomotion.
His video, showing the right bank of the Oise between Compiègne and Pont-L’Evêque, too wild for his taste, and far too colonized by quads and motocross, attracted attention and generated debate on Twitter. The native Dutchman had also started his journey by calling on the president of the departmental council Nadège Lefebvre:
Dear @NadegeLefebvre_the potential for cycle tourism and cycle transport is evident at the edge of your precious waterways.
Despite the non-development of the Oise and Oise canal, there are bike riders.
—Stein van Oosteren (@LCyclable) August 1, 2022
“I saw a lot of beautiful things in my crossing of the Oise, but unfortunately, I would say that the potential is not exploited, the banks of the Oise are not designed for bikes, we are deprived of a lot possibilities, including economic ones”, judge the cyclist. On the famous social network, the Twittos always ready to issue definitive opinions in less than 280 characters, went down in flames the cyclist guilty of having denounced banks that were too grassy and badly signposted.
Like this user with a rather simplistic opinion:
Well yeah Jean-Michel. We’re going to concrete the banks of the river because you prefer to ride a road bike than a mountain bike. Well no. You are going to buy yourself a mountain bike and you are going to respect nature.
— Pierre B. (@Pierre_B_y) August 2, 2022
“When we talk about ‘bicycle’ people imagine and think ‘MTB’ or ‘racing bike’, but when we talk about a car who imagines a Formula 1 car? The bicycle should not be reserved only for sporting practice., he replies with well-honed arguments. About “concreting”: “Developing the towpath could mean running a small bitumen route, but that’s not the only option”, he points out. He also notes that his critics are never ready for a contradiction “We don’t see many people opposing the artificialization of the soil to create millions of kilometers of roads. However, in doing so, we increase the need for motorized transport, as all the studies show”.
A “Parisian bobo asshole”
A few sections of asphalt along the Oise would, however, according to him have a virtue: “Allow a transfer from the car to the bike to get around, including to go to work”. For this Dutchman raised in a country where “one out of three journeys is made by bike, one out of two in the city”, it is wrong to say that France does not have a cycling culture and that nothing is possible there: “In the Netherlands citizens seized on these questions forty years ago, asked to live differently, France can do the same”. Including in the countryside: “People on Twitter see me as a ‘Parisian bobo asshole’ who arrives in the countryside and wants to concrete everything for his pleasure, but I was born in a village of 1,200 inhabitants and I went to school after 5 km from bike every morning, some comrades did up to 18 km, you can do it here too”. A kind of “Vélobus” of friendly kids, “very good for social cohesion, for health”. And as many solutions “excellent for the economy in terms of health gains, particularly on pollution”he lists.
All the remarks of the cyclist-tourist… already in a report submitted in 2011
Although sharply criticized, the remarks made by this cyclist are also well known to the authorities. In 2011, the Oise-la-Vallée urban planning and development agency produced a report entitled “The development of the banks of the Oise, a new development challenge for the valley”. This report commissioned as part of the future development of the Seine Nord Europe Canal particularly pointed to the “lack of continuity” on the banks, with many “breaking points” citing the “earth dykes” or the “dense vegetation” which make the use of banks complex. This report ultimately recommended giving priority to… “pedestrian and cycle traffic”. Stein van Oosten seems to have got it right.
Will these developments recommended more than ten years ago as part of the development of the Canal-Seine-Nord Europe see the light of day with the emergence of the river “highway”? Maybe. In the meantime, if we want to be able to cross the Oise along its eponymous river from north to south, there seems to be only one solution: a departmental desire to bring unions around the table, communities of municipalities and municipalities. This is how ambitious “cyclo” plans have emerged in other departments. Besides Stein who does not want to conclude on negative arguments, notes: “When it’s very good, I’m the first to say it, along the Burgundy canals there are wonderful bike rides to do, it’s accessible to families, it’s a joy”.
*Those who go “tafer” by bike
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