It's true that former Soviet republics have unwelcome experience with tanks in the streets of their capitals. But never before, it seems safe to say, has a political leader brought out the heavy artillery to protect the integrity of a bike lane.
However, that's just what happened recently when Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, declared virtual war on automobiles crowding out bicycles in designated bike lanes.
Zuokas, who was recently reelected to a second term, climbed into an armored personnel carrier turret to crush a Mercedes parked in a Vilnius bike lane. The resulting mayhem was, of course, captured for posterity on YouTube, in the video below.
"In the past few days, expensive cars have been illegally parked in almost this exact place," the mayor says on the video.
"What should the city do about drivers who think that they are above the law?" the narration continues. "It seems that a tank is the best solution."
"Mayor Zuokas wanted his message to be loud and clear that the city will not tolerate brazen and disrespectful behavior by drivers who disobey parking rules," the mayor's spokeswoman Irma Juskenaite told the UK Guardian.
"The mayor hopes that he will not have to repeat his performance, although he says that he is prepared to do so," she added, in a thinly veiled threat.
Zuokas installed bike lines in Vilnius to make good on his campaign to expand public transportation and bike usage in the Baltic capital. And lest you fret over the collateral damage to the Mercedes, Vilnius purchased the vehicle specifically for the video stunt, according to the Guardian report.
- crowding out
- virtual war
- armored personnel carrier
- former Soviet republics