Malicious Compliance

I just read a great blog post which talks about malicious compliance.

This is where one follows the rules, perfectly, to the letter in a way which makes things hell for someone.

To me, it’s a particularly nasty kind of “passive aggression”.

I have seen this often in cycling advocacy when people continually bring up obscure parts of the highway design code in order to shoot down safe and efficient designs for cycling infrastructure.

Whenever you see someone argue against some really good infrastructure and they say something like, “it’s against the law” or “liability”, they are probably engaging in a form of malicious compliance.

This can also be seen when there are bike lanes which are inconsistent in width, but super narrow. This is because they were measured from the curb which is not totally straight and riding in them would have one ride mostly in the gutter.

When I see cycling infrastructure, I know immediately if the makers would ever ride on their handy-work. Often the answer is, “no.”

The answer is not resignation and saying “no” to everything, but rather saying, “yes”, then making it better.

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