Forester Vs. Clark III

It really scares me on how fun critiquing this paper is which is why I don’t do this more often. It’s like taking a drug, but instead of making you feel good, it just makes you look like an asshole.

“Therefore, bikeway promoters had to commit two ethical lapses in order to promote bikeways.”

Wow! Bikeway promoters are unethical!


What did they do?

Take bribes? Steal money? Kill people?

Let’s see:

“The first was to avoid any consideration of safety, because they could not produce any good evidence that bikeways made cycling safer.”

OK, so bikeways are unsafe so they should be banned.

Can’t we say the same thing about guns, autos, and even bicycles themselves?

Isn’t it safer to bicycle slowly so we can stop quicker and note obstacles than to ride as fast as possible? Shouldn’t bicycle racing be banned? Perhaps we should just all stay in our houses?

By Forester‘s standard, the number one killer of children, private automobiles should be banned.

Instead of going after freeways which kills 38,000 people a year, he goes after bike lanes which kill zero people a year. In fact, since bicycles on the road actually make drivers safer, one can say, scientifically, that bike infrastructure saves lives.

But it’s unethical somehow.

“The second was to avoid any consideration of cycling skill, because they could not identify any item of cycling skill that bikeways eliminated.”

OK, this is convoluted.

Hidden assumption: that cycling skill needs to be eliminated in order to build a bikeway.

That’s strange reasoning.

I don’t think that anyone would think that cyclists should “eliminate their skills” in order to justify bikeways.

I don’t see how a skilled cyclist will have a problem with a bikeway.

What about an “unskilled” (meaning didn’t take his class) cyclist.

In our current system, the Forrester’s class takes 8 hours. Yes a whole fucking day to be competent to ride. In Copenhagen, the system that Forrester despises, I got a lesson on riding in a single minute. I felt fine riding after that.

We’ll see more of this where Forrester makes a strange assumption that nobody really agrees with then runs with it.

Here’s a typical patterns of his strange argument:

We have to do A before we can do B.

Do we really?

For example, you have to have one less skill from my made up class before you can build a bike lane.


I postulate that we can build a bikeway regardless of skill. If skills are so great, we can always teach people the necessary skills later.

If you study other infrastructure, like the freeway, it was built before anyone knew how to use it which only make sense.

If something doesn’t exist, you can’t practice on it.

So I say that we should build bikeways all over the place as Forrester is kind enough to admit that we all want.

In a democracy, we should get what the most of us want not what our self-appointed guardians allow us to have.


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