Shadowboxing: Forester Vs. Clark I

This is a brilliant article in the way Coulter’s books were brilliant: they have so many things wrong with them in such a small space that it’s hard to start unpacking let alone debunking them so you kind of have to nod and agree.

I’ve had these discussions at parties where guys (usually) would dump their canned speech on me.

It’s like tangled ear buds. If you sit down long enough with it, you can straighten things out.

Let’s start:

“Clarke has opposed lawful, competent cycling throughout his career as the nation’s most prominent bikeway promoter.”

Wow, this sounds really awful.

First of all the word lawful is misleading.

If we are proposing new public policy, it makes no sense to say that it’s “unlawful” because whatever the policy is, that will be the law.

Similarly, other words are used in a weasel way to make this argument. In fact, this whole document reads like a ton of debate tricks.

One of the slickest debate trick is to accuse the other side of doing what you are doing. Thus, I bet any money that they accuse Clark of using a bunch of rhetorical legal tricks.

We’ll see.

Out next word is “competent.”

Again, this is surprising that it’s used here unless we know Mr. Forrester’s background. He promotes “bicycle safety courses”.

Thus, Forrester is using the word “competent” in ways that are unusual. In this case, “competent” means that they used his product. If you took another bicycle course or figured things out for yourself, like I did, you are not considered “competent.”

Thus if you ride your bicycle for ten years, but without training and have no problems you are not “competent” in the Forrester-verse. Similarly, if you take his class then go out and get killed, you are called a lot of names, but you are “competent” by definition.

If we delve deeper they will make the extra-ordinary claim that if you take their course, you are totally impervious to accidents.

This is a bad thing to claim because it makes one lose credibility. Strangely enough, Mr. Forrester continues to have a negative impact on cycling.

By negative impact, I mean he actively discourages the majority of us from cycling.


2 Responses to “Shadowboxing: Forester Vs. Clark I”

  1. Aaron Garland Says:

    I enjoyed reading your rebuttal of this article although I decided to not follow the link and read the article for myself. I don’t have the emotional energy to read this kind of stuff.

    I guess I straddle the divide being that I actively promote and teach a curriculum developed by John Forester. I think that most of what we teach makes sense and is good practice on the current road conditions. I know that you and your wife are very knowledgeably of the “Effective Cycling” curriculum and I have observed that you generally ride in a manner that would follow principles taught by the LAB.

    Foresters views on cycling infrastructure and his approach to advocacy in my opinion are foolishness and very counterproductive to improving conditions for cyclists and for accommodating cyclists of all ages on the road.

    • Fred Says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      I do agree that Forrester has many good ideas.

      On the other hand, I am thinking of how his class’s utility is actually a form of circular reasoning when compared w/ other ideas. I’ll elaborate more on this later.

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