Corbyn and the bicycle

wie döt mij wat, wie döt mij wat
wie döt mij wat vandage
'k heb de banden vol met wind
nee ik heb ja niks te klagen — Skik

Last week Jere­my Cor­byn was elect­ed the new leader of the British Labour Par­ty. This elec­tion has occu­pied the nation for months. It is of course an inter­nal mat­ter, but Labour is the largest oppo­si­tion par­ty, so the out­come deter­mines who will be the leader of the oppo­si­tion. It turned out to be Cor­byn, a vet­er­an left­winger who makes no secret of his social­ist ideals.

But how­ev­er good his ideas about the dis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth, how­ev­er heart­en­ing his speech about refugees, I only became a fan when I saw him strap­ping on his hel­met after an inter­view and then cycle away on a patchy asphalt road with faint traces of a bicy­cle lane. It turns out that Cor­byn has no car, but two bicycles.

In Dutch pol­i­tics, you often see men in suits bik­ing towards Par­lia­ment. That is not remark­able in a coun­try where you can find two-lane bicy­cle paths, spe­cial traf­fic lights and most impor­tant­ly social accep­tance of cycling. When I cycle to work, I have the choice between annoy­ing car dri­vers and run­ning over pedes­tri­ans. Peo­ple step­ping out of their cars only watch out for cars, so before you know it you are fold­ed around a car door.

I recent­ly received an email about the Cycle to Work Day where you could pledge to cycle to work on that day. This solem­ni­ty is very appro­pri­ate, because cycling should not be tak­en light­ly here in Eng­land. When you get on your bike, there is no telling in what state you will ever get off it.

Dai­ly using a bike in these cir­cum­stances is noth­ing less than hero­ic. It shows ded­i­ca­tion to the good cause; improv­ing the world regard­less of per­son­al risk. So I can only say: Go Cor­byn. And if he makes it until 2020 and wins the elec­tion, my hopes are on a bicy­cle path in Gillingham!