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Europe

Bikes for all—at least in theory

Pierre-Yves GeoffardLibération

The early verdict on the new bicycle service in Paris is in, said Pierre-Yves Geoffard in the Paris Libération. It has proved “such a tremendous success” that it is in danger of failing. The idea was brilliant: Place bicycle stations across the city, every 1,000 feet or so, and let riders pick up a bike for just one euro and drop it off at another station across town. Now that we’ve been doing this for a few months, though, we’ve noticed that everyone tends to bike the same routes. So we Parisians find ourselves “hurrying from one empty station to the next, equally empty station.” All are filled with desperate commuters “sharing the same delusion” that surely the station after this will have some bikes. When, halfway to our destination, we do finally get hold of a bike, we “pedal in ecstasy for 10 minutes or so,” only to find that we must ride around for another 30 minutes before we can locate a free spot to park. The planners should have predicted that Murphy’s Law would kick in: “When you need to rent a bike, all the stations are empty; when you need to park one, all the stations are full.”

How to turn racists  into victims

Ron HuchuliLe Temps

Left-wing radicals have done their archenemies, the far right, a huge favor, said Ron Huchuli in Geneva’s Le Temps. The right-wing Swiss People’s Party was holding an orderly, if repugnant, rally in the Swiss capital of Bern last weekend when about 1,000 leftists wearing black masks attacked. The leftists ripped down banners and tents, threw rocks, and set fires. Such appalling violence, of course, made the right-wingers—“who have led an aggressive campaign” against immigrants—look like victims. The scene could have been scripted by the People’s Party, whose favorite campaign poster features white sheep expelling a black sheep from the herd. Until the riot, it was easy to dismiss the poster as racist and exclusionary. Yet now that the whole country has seen People’s Party members as innocent sheep being menaced by black-clad anarchists, the party’s message might resonate more widely. Ultimately, the attack “did not wound the party but rather strengthened it.” Way to go, leftists. The far right is now “in an ideal position” for parliamentary elections later this month. “It was a black day for democracy.”

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