Please, Please Stop Saying This

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.

Long time readers all ready know that I hate the whole notion of
Vehicular
Cycling, CABO, and more.

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.

8 Responses to “Please, Please Stop Saying This”

  1. Door-flinging driver causes near-quadruple collision; election year politics behind horrible House bill « BikingInLA Says:

    [...] the Trickster; and no, not our frequent correspondent from New Zealand. A writer urges us to stop saying good things about vehicular cycling. Better bike security through [...]

  2. Charles A-M Says:

    You present the false notion–aided by not providing a working definition of VC for the purposes of your rebuttal of it–that VC and infrastructure are mutually exclusive. Your points imply that VC and cycling education are one and the same and because not everybody can or will ride VC that therefore it is dangerous for anyone to have any cycling education, that everyone should remain ignorant and figure it out on their own.

    You cannot rebut “I ride VC [and it works for me]” with “some other people don’t so it doesn’t work for anybody.”

    You’re alienating any of your readers who are potential allies and do ride VC with overstatements like “Nobody rides VC. Nobody.” Reading between the lines surrounding this statement, you’re really saying that nobody rides VC except the people who do, and people who ride VC aren’t ‘real cyclists’ (or people, apparently). I think that’s pretty ironic because the subset of more vocal VC advocates who are somewhat over-the-top (the ones with whom you group in the rest of us who ride and promote VC techniques as one tool among many) also suggest that people who don’t ride their way aren’t ‘real cyclists’. Yes, let’s continue to divide the cycling community.

    I ride VC, and it works very well for me. It’s not the most fun to ride on streets with heavy traffic, but VC helps me get the job done. The feedback I got from my cycling instructor has literally saved my life, in one case allowing me to completely avoid being a part of a three-car collision from a drunk driver (in the middle of the night, I might add, where those three cars were the only ones on the road).

    When I learned to drive a car, I applied the same principles I use when riding a bike, and they are quite transferable.

    I am a strong supporter of cycling infrastructure and education. I am a strong believer that motorists on this continent are given a free ride when it comes to respecting other road users. It is ridiculous to suggest that everyone who practices or promotes vehicular cycling in any circumstance (or by grouping and labeling these people “VC” in the first place) is suggesting it’s the only way to ride in any circumstance. Yes, it would be nice if every bike route were safe, but the fact is they aren’t all. VC techniques can help those people who aren’t riding on the 90% of their route that does have comfortable infrastructure because 10% of the route doesn’t. More people cycling on that 10% will build a constituency for political support to fix its physical deficiencies.

    Similarly, just because a “VC” person opposes a piece of infrastructure it doesn mean they’re opposed to all infrastructure. If a separated bike lane dumps people into the blind uphill turn you mentioned, that isn’t safe. I know a number of “anti-VC” people who would nonetheless support it because lanes that make things more dangerous because hey, infrastructure dedicated to cycling must make cycing safer, right?

    I look forward to seeing how you misinterpret and spin my comments to demonstrate how I want all cyclists to die, or that because I support cycling intrastructure I’m therefore defined out of the VC category.

    • Fred Says:

      “You present the false notion–aided by not providing a working definition of VC for the purposes of your rebuttal of it–that VC and infrastructure are mutually exclusive.”

      Um, please go read _Effective Cycling_. Or read this evidence here: google.com. There you’ll find plenty of evidence that shows that the VC crowd has fought infrastructure.

      For now, VC and education are pretty much the same. Again, do your research. They even call it “riding vehicularly.” I am trying to put together a non-VC class and to get it approved by the government. It will teach how to ride in bike lanes and on the sidewalk. Want to help me?

      Haha, alienating readers. I don’t care about this.

      I am here to write things that people are too afraid to say. I am here to look at all the information and give my best opinion…with jokes.

      If you want to “not be alienated” please don’t read this blog. Thanks, though, for helping me make a disclaimer.

      By saying that “nobody rides VC”, I mean to say that I NEVER see people perfectly executing the moves that our outlined in _Effective Cycling_. I am trying to find them because I think that they exist. Mostly the spandex racers are on the shoulder or on the OB bicycle PATH.

      And a peleton does NOT count. Anyone can be brave with 20 of their friends.

      “Yes, let’s continue to divide the cycling community.”

      The bicycle community has been divided for 30 years. There were less than 1% of us who spoke for pro-VC views to the govt. Then there was the 99% plus who wanted to ride but were too scared and we thought (wrongly) that the govt wanted us not to ride. This is another VC lie.

      When I am defensive “Forrester had good ideas for the time” this will be abused by VC people. Instead, we need to take the fight home and destroy their base, forever. Only then will we get infrastructure. Or you can live for “peace at any price” and let them to continue to run the terms of debate. My mind is made up on what needs to be done.

      BTW, does anyone read this blog? No. Does it determine public policy? No. This is for me and my friends to cache my stats and to tell some jokes.

      “It is ridiculous to suggest that everyone who practices or promotes vehicular cycling in any circumstance (or by grouping and labeling these people “VC” in the first place) is suggesting it’s the only way to ride in any circumstance.”

      Which is why I never said that.

      “I ride VC, and it works very well for me.”

      For the love of God, please STOP SAYING THAT. You have no idea how damaging that is to cycling in the US. Please read some more and wake up!

      “When I learned to drive a car, I applied the same principles I use when riding a bike, and they are quite transferable.”

      No they are not. I’m not going to itemize the differences but they are enough so that the law in all 50 states does not equate the two. In fact, trucks and cars differ legally, too. Only VC brainwashing could force me to make such obvious statements to someone over 5 years old.

      “Yes, it would be nice if every bike route were safe, but the fact is they aren’t all.”

      Yes, and I personally blame the VC nuts for this. ONLY.

      “Similarly, just because a “VC” person opposes a piece of infrastructure it doesn mean they’re opposed to all infrastructure.”

      Yes, they are. This is another lie they tell. Trust me, they will pretend to be for it get on a committee and stab us in the back. I saw this happen, for real, many, many times before I came to the conclusions I came to.

      “I know a number of “anti-VC” people who would nonetheless support it because lanes that make things more dangerous because hey, infrastructure dedicated to cycling must make cycing safer, right?”

      Wrong. Nobody supports making things more dangerous except for those who want to dedicate all the money to motoring, only. If you hadn’t noticed they just passed a bill which would make that much easier on the federal level. Please wake up.

      “I look forward to seeing how you misinterpret and spin my comments to demonstrate how I want all cyclists to die, or that because I support cycling intrastructure I’m therefore defined out of the VC category.”

      I will not do that. This is called “mind reading” and it’s a sign of distorted thinking. If you’d read all my posts, you’d see how I talk about this.

      It’s impossible to tell what people want, inside their heads. I would like to talk about what decisions, in the real world, I actually saw. Plus jokes! :)

  3. John Romeo Alpha Says:

    I commute by bicycle every day in Phoenix, AZ, which has an official bicycle commute rate of .7%, pathetic. The city actually has about 500 miles of bike lanes and paths, mainly painted lanes plus canal paths, with a few multi-use paths, so some effort has been made toward bike infrastructure, possibly far from enough to have a positive impact though, and the implementation has been inconsistent and uncoordinated. I would like nothing more than for separate bicycle infrastructure in Phoenix that was crowded with happy, fashionable cyclists just riding around rather than driving autos everywhere. Currently, though, to get to work each day, I end up riding on streets full of cars. In that environment, I find techniques that are actually useful for me in Forester, but not much in this post that helps me: how to ride on a street full of cars where there is no infrastructure, how to turn left, how to get across, and so on. I’m totally open to other usable ideas about how I should ride to work on Monday morning in Phoenix, if you have better suggestions than VC. I’m asking this in a constructive spirit, since I too would like to leave something better for my children than a paved over parking lot basking in the heat of global warming. But also, I plan to keep riding my bicycle to work in Phoenix every day. Help me understand what I should do differently from VC the day after tomorrow when I ride into work.

    • Fred Says:

      If you think that cycling sucks, don’t do it.

      If it’s great, do it.

      I’m not going to tell you to risk your life by riding VC.

      My approach is that VC is dangerous and you should NEVER ride that way.

      BTW, I’m NOT here to help people.

      If Forrester can help you then use his advice.

      I’m sorry that I gave you the impression that I was here to help you.

  4. There are no safe streets for cyclists « BikingInLA Says:

    [...] a battle that rages on in cities and states throughout the country. Like in San Diego, where Forester himself helps lead [...]

  5. Luv 2 Cycle Says:

    I would never ride VC, and I certainly would never allow any child or Grandchild of mine to learn VC.

    Riding VC is lethal, and I would dearly love to see the figures of the deaths and seriously injured of whether they were riding VC or not. I suspect the majority of them were.

    VC is for the young, fit, active adrenalin junkies. It is not for everyday people that want to get to school, arrive at work in their work clothes having not worked up a sweat. It’s not for shoppers, going to the doctors, hospital, or dentist. It’s not for sticking the kids or a dog on the back and going off to visit Grandma or Aunt Joan. Nor is it for riding into town to meet a mate for coffee, going to the cinema or theatre.

    Real bicyclists do not wear special clothes, ride a bike so far leaning over that they look contorted, nor do they feel the need to pedal furiously at a minimum speed of 20 mph, which is what I believe is recommended for VC.

    Ordinary everyday, real, bicyclists will tend to cycle on the road where the road speeds are low and safe. They will use cycle paths and lanes where provided. And if they come to a junction or roundabout that they feel unsafe to use, they will either dismount and cross as a pedestrian, just as the highway code recommends, or they will mount the pavement and cycle across pedestrian crossings as a safe way to cross.

    Real bicyclists will even break the law on very fast, dangerous roads and cycle on the pavement. Very strangely the Home Office and police actually recognise this as normal and acceptable behaviour for real bicyclists.

    Real bicyclists need real cycle infrastructure.

    You see the real bicyclist is the ordinary, everyday, person that dons ordinary everyday clothes and then uses their bike for transport. They do not dress specifically for the bike, they do not risk life and limb proving that they can get to work faster than a car.

    Any activity of any form that requires special equipment and clothing is a sport. Vehicular Cycling is a sport.

    For those that like the sport of VC then good luck to them, but they certainly shouldn’t be falsely promoting that sport as safe everyday bicycling.

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