Brainstorming a Brighter Future

I have decided to move on.

That is, I feel that my thinking was shackled by unhealthy ideas, and that refuting them was sucking up a lot of precious time and mental energy.

If we fight off a cold, once, we don’t want to shut down that part of our immune system and re-fight the cold again, do we?

Thus, the arguments I have had, I am trying to pull my sticky mind away from them once and for all.

While riding to work, I have some rough ideas.

1. We must unshackle ourselves from useless phrases and ideas. These include “rights to the road”, “be careful for what you wish for”, “this will never work here”, “and cyclist are not morally superior.”

Same for criticism. We should just ignore it.

Useless ideas are usually vague. They often speak in dualities, ignore penitent information, bring in unnecessary facts, and they often distort reality.

2. Cycling must come first. We must not let people tell us that we need to mitigate ourselves. That’s for them to figure out.

Thus, we shouldn’t worry about what other people think, about removing parking, or any other tiny arguments which will never be resolved.

Tiny ideas will lead to tiny fights which will not solve the huge problems we are facing.

3. The future will come from both the imagination and data.

We must imagine a better world for ourselves. Think of #1 and how people are so negative. “I can never ride because of X.”

I have found that with a little imagination and #2, we can do what we didn’t think was possible.

But we are NOT just dreamers. We must get peer reviewed data on everything. This is helpful because there are many people who request more and more data.

On the other hand, too much data is also bad. Thus, we shouldn’t get bogged down.

There are many things that we don’t have to prove. Cycling is fun, healthy, and good for the environment. Anywhere that’s halfway decent for cycling gets people to FLOCK to it even if they said that they hated bikes.

So we must get just enough data to make a decision and no more.

4. We must move fast. We don’t have a lot of time to dither.

5. People are affected by their surroundings in a similar way no matter what the culture is. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The human mind is a learning machine, and is very flexible.

Things that seem confusing, scary, and strange become quite normal after a very short time.

6. We can do everything. That is, in an ideal world, we will have proper education, infrastructure, and enforcement. One of these will not solve the problem. Improving on one of these will help all of these.

7. We can determine how healthy a city is for cycling. While there’s a lot of things we can measure some of them can obscure the truth such as looking at fatalities in a city where nobody rides.

Thus, the best measure of cycling is humans especially women. If they are too scared to ride or say phrases like “it’s no practical” then cycling in that city is sick, and it’s up to us to make it better. The humans who want to ride are healthy–the city is sick.

Laws, classes, and wishful thinking are not enough.

We have to judge the tree by its fruit. If we have been doing something and the patient is getting sicker, we are wrong and should forget all we know to learn from those who have healthy patients.

By this measure, San Diego is an example of a very sick city while Copenhagen is a very healthy one. The main thing that San Diego can teach Copenhagen about cycling is how we got our disease.

8. We can adapt our environment. Cycling is 100% compatible with American values and can fit into our current infrastructure.

If we can’t picture that, we aren’t thinking big enough.

When we build freeways through a city, and you looked at a before map, where would you put the freeway?

There’s no place for it. There are buildings and farms everywhere. It does not fit.

Now look at any modern city with freeways everywhere. They took the land and made the freeway blowing up sides of mountains, destroying thousands of buildings and acres of farmland. The freeway was built.

Few people were consulted, certainly we didn’t wait for consensus for each and every single person who was going to be affected. Now everyone, even many of its biggest critics, rides on that freeway.

Whether or not the freeway is a benefit is irrelevant. It was built even though people said negative things about it (see #1).

We must have the same scope of persistance, vision, and courage that people like Robert Moses had. Though unlike him, I doubt our son will die in a cycle track accident.

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