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Ride time ... cyclists fill the broad bike lanes all over Copenhagen. Photo: Johan Spanner

COPENHAGEN: Mikael le Dous has it in for cyclists.

A power plant engineer, he rides a bike himself, as do his children. He just  wishes cyclists would behave.

"We call cyclists the plague of the pavement," he said.

Mr le Dous, 56, a bearded, animated man, doesn't just complain  about  delinquent riders. As the head of the Danish Pedestrian Association, which he  founded six years ago, he has dedicated his spare time to doing something about  them.

Armed with a digital camera and a video recording device mounted on the  dashboard of his car, he photographs cyclists who ignore traffic lights, go up  one-way streets the wrong way or plough through pedestrian areas without  dismounting, gathering material to present to the authorities to argue for  stricter surveillance of cyclists.

Sometimes, he says, the results of rider misbehaviour can be fatal. "It  happens occasionally that you'll have an older woman, not hit but surprised and  frightened by a bike so that she falls and maybe even dies," he said.

In a nation dedicated to cycling, however, Mr le Dous has been fighting an  uphill battle. The association now has only about 160 members, with a meagre  annual budget of a little more than $1900.

"We don't mind cyclists," Mr le Dous said. "We mind people who don't respect  the law."

Every day, 55 per cent of Copenhageners travel to work or school on a  bike.They fill the broad bike lanes that abound in the Danish capital which has  a population of 1.2 million.

Mr le Dous looks enviously at a group he sometimes considers his nemesis, the  Danish Cyclists' Federation. Founded in 1905 and boasting 17,000 members, the  federation wields the enormous clout in Denmark on matters of traffic that  automobile associations have elsewhere.

Frits Bredal, 46, a former television journalist and the federation's  spokesman, said it was aware of anger over cyclists, but "bicycles are not just  nice and cute; they will be, and should be, a central part of Danish transport  policy, local and national."

Bike safety has improved recently, he said, thanks to a range of measures,  including wider bike paths and educational programs. "Last year, we had the  lowest number of traffic accidents ever, including the lowest number of  fatalities involving bicycles," Mr Bredal said.

Like many in Copenhagen, Natalia Privalova, 37, an office manager, has two  bikes.

Cyclists respect pedestrians, she said, then tempered the assertion by  adding, "when they follow the rules".

"Of course," she said, "rush hour is another story."