Phase Shift Cycling

There’s a nice analogy for cycling that I like to think about which is a phase shift.

To give you some background: the human mind normally assumes that all change is gradual and linear. This is a reasonable approach for a great many things, and it’s possible that the human mind thinks linearly because our environment usually consists of linear change.

On the other hand, sometimes, there are abrupt changes, and these can take us by surprise.

For example. If you have ice which is -1 C degrees, you find that it’s solid. As you pass zero, you will see an immediate and dramatic change.

Nothing about changing the temperature between -10 and -1 degrees C is going to prepare us for what happens when we pass zero degrees.

In fact, regarding infrastructure, you’re going to hear people say that it’s never going to happen in their lifetimes. This is just like saying that the ice will never melt because we keep giving it a little heat and it doesn’t change much.

Here’s an example of what I am talking about:

“The last transportation law, SAFETEA-LU, provided four communities with four years of funding to build an infrastructure network for nonmotorized transportation (a fancy way of saying “sidewalks and bike paths”). It wasn’t a lot of money…

“An estimated 32 million driving miles were averted between 2007 and 2010. It appears that the numbers keep climbing — half of that savings happened just in 2010, the last year of the pilot, when an estimated 16 million miles were walked or bicycled that would have otherwise been driven.”


And here we added only a little heat to the pan.

Imagine the savings we’d get back from a REAL investment in infrastructure. It would pay for itself in so many ways.

So when you see a bike path that’s not used and say that it’s a waste of money you’ll remember that this is a block of ice. We’ve heated it from -10 to -9 degrees and we expect it to melt. How silly.

We need to reach a critical mass. Then we’ll see lots of change all at once.

Cycling infrastructure will bring about a phase transition in cycling. Let’s heat the stove rather than letting room temperature take its time…


4 Responses to “Phase Shift Cycling”

  1. Steve A Says:

    LOVE the way that cyclist is “using the full lane” in the photo as the sign advises. OTOH, he’d be stuck if he were using the path. Did that pedestrian REALLY wait for Federal spending to walk those dogs? My “BS” meter was pegged at max on that propaganda piece.

    One item really scared me: “In each community, a greater percentage of pedestrian and bicycling trips included transit in 2010 than in 2007.” Are they saying that the USG is even succeeding in getting cyclists off the road via buses? Greater PERCENTAGE? I’d hate to have to burn my transit pass in protest!

  2. Fred Says:

    I appreciate your reading this, Steve, and your support. You’ve been good to me.

    I think for the VC stuff, we have to agree to disagree. I’m focusing on moving way beyond all this.

    I have researched the subject for over a year, pouring over stats and so on. The conclusions I have reached are based on data and experience on a bicycle in many cities.

    You are free to disagree, but please don’t try to pull me into debates as they drain precious time and energy which is best served moving forward not backward.

    The best infrastructure is not yet thought of; the best places to bicycle are not yet built.

  3. Steve A Says:

    In reality, I’m not sure HOW we disagree. I view myself as a transportational cyclist. I ride from point to point – over whatever the options are. VC is the main option where I ride. It defines an approach, not an identity. As I’ve said many times, I am NOT an advocate. I want to go places without being compelled to do it via car. Which brings us back to the first sentence. And the difference. I ride in what the world IS – whether that be ideal or shit. You wish for what you want it to be. Follow your dreams. I’ll follow reality. No need for debates…

  4. Fred Says:

    The reality is that most people would like to ride occasionally but can not or will not because the government has spend a lot of money with no thought to anyone but cyclists.

    The reality is that negative comments about infrastructure, such as your own, has set back cycling by 30 years or more.

    In reality, cycling in San Diego is barely possible.

    In reality, nobody in San Diego rides my route VC. Nobody.

    VC riding is NOT realistic where I ride. I have challenged many people to ride my commute VC.

    I and many of those I love have been personally maligned and attacked by the VC crowd online.

    In reality, I have squandered a great deal of time and energy trying to empathize with people like you.

    In reality, VC people have NEVER spent a minute contemplating my point of view. NOT A SECOND.

    In reality more bike infrastructure has been built in the past decade than has in the past 30 years before.

    Why? The places that have the most cyclists and the least deaths are those that freed themselves from the clutches of the VC crowd.

    These are all irrefutable facts.

    To say it’s OK to ride now is saying it’s OK to make minimum wage forever. If you have a job, why go for something better?

    In reality, the world is becoming a better place.

    In reality, your comment sparked me to make some new comment policies.

    In reality, a small amount of money pays off. That has been proven by the study I posted.

    Reality ALWAYS makes VC people angry which is why then NEVER give any facts or logic, but rather spout personal attacks, smarmy undermining, and non-sequitors. I don’t want to waste my life like this.

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