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November 20, 2009


Wim Ahlers

The Netherlands is notorious for its strong winds on open plains. We still cycle.
I also cycle about 12 miles to work. I do this on a regular Dutch bicycle with a coaster braker and no gears. No problem.
Of course it helps that there is a good bicycle infrastructure where I live (near Rotterdam). My top speed is about 20 kph. So is my average speed. I have 4 stop lights between my suburb and the center of Rotterdam. And the road is about 80% cycle path, about 15% cycle lanes, and about 5% on, mostly, cul-du-sac roads. And that is a typical example of Dutch cycling.

Richard Prouty

Sounds like an ideal commute, Wim. Chicago has introduced a bike sharing program and greatly increased its bike paths since I wrote this post--perhaps my most popular. Still, it's not easy to commute by bike here. I work in the middle of the Loop on LaSalle Street, which is pretty dense with cars and pedestrians. Uber drivers have become just as aggressive as cab drivers, if not more so. And there's no place to park a bike in my office building. So, for the time being, I do a train and walk commute.

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One-Way Street [Einbahnstrasse, 1928] was Walter Benjamin's first effort to break out of the narrow confines of the academy and apply the techniques of literary studies to life as it is currently lived. For Benjamin criticism encompasses the ordinary objects of life, the literary texts of the time, films in current release, and the fleeting concerns of the public sphere. Following Benjamin's lead, this blog is concerned with the political content of the aesthetic and representations of the political in the media. As Benjamin writes in One-Way Street, "He who cannot take sides should keep silent."