Halmet: A Tragedy Narrowly Averted (by William Shakespeare)

To ride, or not to ride? That is the question.


Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The king has been killed–run over by a carriage while riding his bike. Some think it wasn’t an accident. The king’s pro-bike stance had earned the scorn of some big-wig fat cats in Copenhagen who wanted to bring in more stuff from giant stores on the outskirts of the city. They needed more carriages to carry all that stuff, but the king wanted more bike lanes so riders could feel safe and ride to work every day.

Now the king’s brother, who doesn’t even own a bike, has named himself the Minister for Traffic, Big Roads, and Big Stores. I think you can see where this is going.

Soon, bike lanes are being taken down in the night like unwanted confederate general statues. Carriages were running wild in the city, acting as if they owned all the roads. Soon the people were in open rebellion because they no longer felt safe in their own city, but they needed a leader. Enter young prince Halmet, the late king’s son, and founding peer of the Légion de Velo.

In front of a huge crowd of angry bikers, Halmet gives one of the most memorable speeches in Bike Drama to the assembled populace:

To ride, or not to ride? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of carriage drivers, outrageous potholes, or a sea of bad weather, or to give up and get a carriage instead? If it only were so simple! The fact is, my good people, we Danes were bred for this! We know that the benefits of biking far outweigh the costs. Nor are we ignorant. There are those who want us to sell ourselves out to the idea that cities have to be designed around big roads and carriages. They are mistaken if they think we will exchange what we know is right and good for a fallacy… (insert dramatic pause here)

To them, I say: We ride! (á la Braveheart. This is where the crowd goes wild.)

Halmet’s love interest, Ophelia, is a bad ass bike mechanic who has a piston tattooed on the back of each of her calves. Together, they ride out into the mean streets of Copenhagen, offering bike safety advice, protecting bike lanes, and helping enforce the rules. They also hand out “Halmet’s hats” to kids to protect their heads while riding.

Soon, the king’s brother moved to the suburbs and gave up on trying to convert Copenhagen to his twisted way of thinking. Halmet and Ophelia became bike royalty and were greeted with great enthusiasm by their loving people everywhere they rode.

And they all rode happily ever after. The end.

 

 

It is an irony of history that the people of Copenhagen today feel so safe on their bikes that they don’t even wear “Halmet’s hat” any longer. But that name is still with us in English, somewhat modified. This is also why Denmark didn’t become as crazy for carriages as all the other countries that it shares a land border with. And also why Danes don’t need as much stuff from giant stores and instead focus on making what they already have very nice, which you can read about here.


This blog post was written by a guest contributor to this blog: William Shakespeare. He actually died a while ago, but he emailed this to me so I could post it for him. Thanks, Bill! Cheers to you wherever you are now!

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