I Don’t Need No Edumacation

Actually, this is funny because I am actually working on getting certified as a cycling instructor.

I know that I have bashed education before, but there was a good reason for this.

I was never anti-education for cycling. I feel that learning more is almost always better.

However, I am against invoking education as a magic spell that makes our infrastructural neglect go away.

As I said before, I am against the idea that more education is the answer for many reasons.

Also, though I like the vague idea of education, I don’t think we have any good education programs now. I’d like to see something like what we have now, but I’m not sure that these current courses are the way to go.

Thus, one of the main motivations for my getting an education is to be part of the change that makes education better.

What are my problems with the current system?

Let me count the ways.

First of all, education, at this point, is really indoctrination to the VC lifestyle. This is one of the main reasons why VC people keep trying to “educate” activists.

I have noticed that “education” can even make people resistant to the facts. This is bad.

We need education which can help us to read and understand the facts of the road rather than invoking an mystical “rules of the road” or “normal traffic flow” which don’t exist.

The reality of the road can only be gained by doing studies.

Overall, studies show that the roads in the US are unsafe for bicycle travel.

Also, I feel that there’s a double standard when between infrastructure and classes.

For many people, infrastructure must be specifically allowed and mentioned by law or at least in legally approved design documents. In fact, I heard that the NACTO guide got dissed because it came from a “private company.”

But regarding classes, there is no such high standard of approval. There is no law making a cycling safety class legal nor is there any sort of legality to the “licensing” like there is for a driver’s license, for example.

But there’s more.

Let’s go back to our old friend, Mr. Cross.

1. In contrast to what many people say online regarding riding in a bike lane, here’s a Cross quote:

“Except for accidents that resulted from the motor vehicle being out of control, it seems reasonable to assume that most Class D accidents would not have occurred if an on-street bicycle lane had been present and the bicyclist had been riding in it.”

Also bike lanes prevent other types of accidents:

“It was stated earlier that on-street bicycle lanes may serve as a “buffer zone” that would serve to decrease the likelihood of some types of bicycle rideout accidents (Class A). It is also possible that the “buffer zone” provided by on-street bicycle lanes would reduce the inci­dence of accidents in which a bicyclist suddenly turns left into the path of an-overtaking motor vehicle (Problem Type 18). ”

2. Another false lesson is that there are courses that can teach you to ride “anywhere’.

“With only a few exceptions, there is little that a bicyclist can be taught that would help him avoid Class D accidents once he has decided to ride where and when such accidents are most likely to occur.
“As a consequence, the primary objective of an education and training program for bicyclists should center on modifying the bicyclist’s choice of where and when he will ride.”

3. Here are some good tips about Class C or intersection style collisions:

“A safety-education program developed for bicyclists should teach them the typical search patterns of motorists in this type of traffic context, the limitations of the human visual system, and the types of accidents that occur because a motorist fails to observe a bicyclist that may be clearly visible. This information must be presented in a manner that will serve to modify bicyclists’ assumptions that they have been or will be detected by motorists who are preparing to enter an uncontrolled roadway from a driveway or from a controlled leg of an intersection.”

To me, this was totally hilarious. Basically, you are not going to be seen.

I’m not sure that teaching someone about the “human visual system” will help, though, but it is funny.

“Many bicycling experts advocate riding in the center of the traffic lane rather than along the right-hand edge of the roadway. They claim that riding in the center of the traffic lane increases the chances of
being observed by motorists who are preparing to enter the roadway from intersecting streets or driveways.

“Also, they argue that riding in the center of the lane provides a greater buffer zone between the bicycle’s path and the position at which motor vehicles stop before entering the roadway. Thus, riding in the center of the traffic lane provides addi­
tional time for the bicyclist to initiate evasive action once it becomes apparent that a motor vehicle is going to enter the roadway. The authors believe that the following important questions must be answered before it is possible to recommend that bicyclists be taught to ride in the center of the traffic lane.”

This is one of the biggest tenets of VCism. What does Mr. Cross say?

Here’s the big reveal:

“* Would riding in the center of the traffic lane increase the likelihood of detection by a margin that has practical significance?

* Would riding in the center of the traffic lane increase the bicyclist’s preview time by a margin that has practical significance?

* How would traffic efficiency be affected if riding in the center of the traffic lane became a common practice?

* Should riding in the center of the traffic lane be prohibited on some types of roadways and/or during certain time periods? If so, what types of roadways and what time periods?

* Should young bicyclists and/or slow-moving bicycles be permitted to ride in the center of the traffic lane? If not, what is the cutoff age/speed?”

These questions have NEVER been answered. In fact, VCists act as if these are NOT important considerations. Perhaps they are not, but remember, all education flows back to Mr. Cross and this landmark paper.

Yes, there are more modern theories and papers. These too show an infrastructure mostly approach.

But it’s wrong to say that people “didn’t know” about this stuff.

Read _Effective Cycling_ and _Cycle Craft_ and take a cycling safety course.

But, I urge you, if you are going to geek out on education so badly, so you can call yourself an expert, take the time to read Kenneth Cross’ complete study.

You will be amazed, informed, and amused.


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