Political Processes to Make Infrastructure Possible

The comment that inspired this blog post (comment by Frank).

“There are many people here in the U.S. who argue against crude copies of Dutch infrastructure because they’ve seen firsthand the problems with the crude copies – and because they know accurate copies will never be politically or economically possible.”

We covered this before, this is a depressive line of thinking called “fortune telling.” We don’t know what is and is not politically possible unless we try to make it so. Though most citizens want cycling infrastructure, it’s the politicians who have decided against it.

There are many reasons for it, but I think that the number one reason is that vehicular (meaning cars for VC nuts NOT bicycles) has been prioritized in the US for almost a century now.


In part because those making decisions all drive cars. So they are building stuff for themselves.

But when this is considered to be impossible, we also have a self-fulfilling prophasy.

Nobody asks for infrastructure because they don’t like being laughed at or ignored. Try it, you’ll see.

Here’s a cool transition from the same comment:

“Some posting here don’t see those problems; they are thoroughly convinced that Dutch design – or a crude approximation – is the answer everywhere.”

This is a strange statement because it says answer but not the question. I guess the question is how to make cycling safer, more efficient, and comfortable (SEC).

Dutch style infrastructure does accomplish all those goals.

I think that Frank has realized this. This he goes to the next fall back position. When he argues with a new set of people, I suspect, he’ll forget this and reset to saying that Dutch infrastructure is dangerous. We’ll see if this is true.

But here’s Frank’s next question:

“Those people might try producing a list of the other countries that have adopted the same designs over as large a percentage of their roadways as have the Dutch. Then they might list the political processes that made such a change possible.”

Note, how he’s asking for something which another tactic that VCers always do, to demand something that they can evaluate, judge, then reject. If you comply, you’ll be running around, like a monkey, forever.

The first question is irrelevant. It’s of a similar type I have see by those who are trying to confuse people which assumes that once the best solution is available, it will soon be available everywhere. This is highly untrue in many cases.

Good solutions to problems don’t become magically available as they often disrupt “business as usual.” Often there are stakeholders in keeping things sucky because they stand to gain in either employment or business.

But in this case, I will answer the second question.

1. Stop saying that VC is good for the time and place and start saying it sucks.

2. Shut Forrester, Franklin, and the newer sleeker clones out of politics completely. Totally discredit them and their ideas. Don’t form alliances, don’t compromise. Get them to retire and to move on. Shout down any opposition.

3. Get people elected who truly believe in cycling. Take them to trips to places where cycling really shines and let them see for themselves. When they come back, get them to pledge at least ten percent of the budget for cycling. Have them appoint people in all aspects of transportation departments and back them up.

4. Fight back against motoring interests. We need to speak more often and louder at every single meeting. We need to control the message. We need to make it clear that cycling is fun, safe, normal, healthy, and cool. This is probably the hardest thing to do because in Hollywood, for example, cycling is short hand for a crazy loser.

5. Hold motorists 100% accountable for paying for the mitigation costs of their activities. You should be able to stand, in most parts of the city, especially the parks, and hold a conversion without hearing vehicle noises all the time. You should be able to jaywalk or commit other kinds of mild mistakes without getting the death penalty.

6. Ban motoring in areas where it doesn’t make sense.

7. Form alliances with pedestrian and transit advocates and GET ON THE SAME PAGE. Stop getting tricked into fighting for pennies.

Finally, in another comment, Frank posts that “we are short on money.” If he took two seconds to google how much in the US is spent each year by the Federal government on motoring, he’d realize that we’re really, really, really flush with money.

Another few minutes, and he’d see posts of several differing design plans and it turns out the cycling infrastructure is always far less expensive than motoring infrastructure.

So we aren’t taking “scarce resources from motoring” but rather they are choosing to put cyclists and others at risk because they are taking money that should be used for mitigation efforts.


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