I’ll write more on this later; this is a rant, but it’s probably the most important thing I’ll ever say on this blog.
I have many, many allies in this. Pretty much 100% of motorists and the vast majority of cyclists all agree that infrastructure is necessary to make cycling a serious transportation means.
However, we run into problems when our allies unwitting undermine us.
How is that?
Now, if you read old posts, you’ll see that I, too, am guilty of this mistake, but it stops here.
Please, never say, again things like:
1. “Forester had good ideas for his time.”
No, he didn’t. He misread a study and created a program which used fear, uncertainty, and doubt to hold cycling back.
None of these things were ever good ideas.
2. “I ride VC.”
I don’t know how people ride, but I suspect that people who have not had a cycling safety course do not ride VC. Riding in traffic is NOT riding VC. Riding in a safe way from experience is NOT VC.
VC is the notion that you are driving a car when you really are riding a bike.
This is delusional.
3. “VC is a safe way for me to ride in current conditions.”
Long time readers know that this statement is broken in many ways. First of all, what is “safe”? If “safe” means teaching people to fight, politically, what has saved lives in other places, then yes, VC is “safe”.
Read the stats and weep. The door zone is not as dangerous as they say. Bright colors and flashy lights don’t protect you. The sidewalk isn’t the death trap it’s made to be.
I can go on, but the point is that instead of these phrases, we need to start saying some things that are more useful.
1. VC is a terrible idea, even in the 70′s. It’s a dangerous way to ride, and the classes that encourage this style give people a false sense of security by having them deny their normal instincts and emotions.
2. A bike safety course will NEVER make one as safe as proper infrastructure. We actually would like to see better statistics on current practices to learn how to ride safely.
3. Nobody rides VC. Nobody. Outside of some staged movies, the vast majority of cyclists learns from trial and error which is good as it’s our genetic heritage. Things suck now because cyclists can’t have harmless collisions (error) because the roads are inherently dangerous. Thus, riding (trials) are decreased, and this actually discourage the education of the public.
True education occurs on the roads, alone, at night without lights (necessarily) in all forms of weather.
When people first start riding they learn that the streets are louder, scarier, and filled with anonymous and hostile machines which could kill them at the slightest mistake.
Is this the lesson we want our children to learn? Is this the world we want to leave them?
Look around, and you’ll see very few cyclists riding alone in the middle of a high speed lane up a hill around a bend. They won’t last long there.
4. No infrastructure, no rights. Just as allowing modern motor cars to drive up and down the natural sides of a mesas is empty as a right because it’s impossible, it’s equally impossible to claim that cyclists have equal rights now.
Until the paths for cyclists are the same or shorter than for cars, until the grade we have to climb is the same or shorter than for cars, until the death rate for cyclists is equal to or less than for cars, until the amount of money spent by the government is equal to or more than for cars, we aren’t equal.
Right now, a bicycle is as free as a typewriter in Soviet Russia. Sure you can type anything you want, but if you do, you may die for that right.
I can’t wait to read what you write while obsessing over the Gulag.