My Response to The Red

Thanks for the feedback. Quite useful.

“I fear the COBOL reference might be playing to a limited audience, although I guess there is something fitting to that.”

The point is that not only does nobody use COBOL, but nobody even knows what it is! Likewise, nobody in Southern California thinks that a bicycle is a mode of transporation. Look at the advocates. Most cycling advocates drive everywhere. Most pedestrians advocates drive everywhere.

There’s a gated community that is being greenwashed as “pedestrian friendly”. Haha.
“I really like one thing that might have been expanded more: You basically led up to the idea that cycling with traffic can be seen as a predecessor to proper cycling development.”

I actually do not agree with this at all. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. There’s a LOUD (online) VC advocate who recently taught his daughter to ride. Where did he teach her? Did he have her roll down Fairmount? No. He put her in an alley where there was little to no vehicular traffic. Likewise, I think that most people who learn to ride, do so on protected or traffic calmed areas.

An example is the Danes. They did just fine in San Diego. They hated it and thought it was regressive and that if they lived here, they’d buy cars. Yet their sweet infrastructure did not hinder them from learning to ride in San Diego.

“It is something we touched on in conversation the other day. While you don’t necessarily cater to “cyclists” with infrastructure improvements, the presence of those cyclists helps increase mindshare about bikes and their place in society. How do we then balance that kind of mindshare with a message that is more applicable with the population on a whole?”

The cycling community is very small and insular. We don’t really understand how the world sees us. Interviews in DC have shown that most legislators don’t hate bicycles. This is especially true in SD. People like bikes.

There are other barriers both here and in other places than dislike of bicycles. We tend to think of people hating bicycles because the majority of interactions socially, on the road, and online with non-cyclists are negative. Anti-cyclists are very loud, but a tiny minority. Over fifty percent, in some surveys, of people want to ride some of the time but are afraid.

“There is one thing about the “anti-VC” argument that falls flat to me, however. Even if we get nice, fully separated bike routes along major corridors, we are likely to be living with shared streets for a very long time (if not forever) on side streets and residential streets. Those last 100-500 feet of travel will work more smoothly for all involved if people on bikes have at least a basic understanding of how to safely ride on a street with parallel parked cars and potentially other vehicular traffic.”

In Copenhagen there are such streets you spoke of. But it didn’t take special training nor experience to figure it out. You just took the lane and rode your bike. Speed limits were less than 15 MPH (don’t recall the number). Even if there’s an collision, this would be non-serious, most likely.

We had people tell legistators, for 40 years that we didn’t need infrastructure because we can use existing facilities. Mode share is smaller now than it was then! There is no city in the world where 40% of the population vehicular cycles. If there was then I agree that we would not need facilities. All the places which have high mode share have nice infrastructure. The more time and space spent on infrastructure, the higher the mode share. No other variable has a higher correlation. We could say that facilities are the limiting reagent in the cycling reaction. Yes, the reaction runs faster with other catalysts, but facilities overwhelm all other variables.

“It kind of comes down to the same argument as before. I want infrastructure, but I don’t think I should have to disdain skills that help me in the mean time to get it.”

Do you consider me to be a “vehicular cyclist”? Very curious on this one.

Also, I don’t disdain anyone’s skills. In fact, I don’t presume to tell anyone how to ride their bicycle. I have done research on behavior, but that’s for another day. The point is that I feel that the way that people, especially intelligent people like you, ride is up to you.

The VC notion is that there’s one right way to ride which can be found in the experiences of other cyclists. My point is that data and research should dictate best practices and that one’s personal experience is a study where n=1.

Second, there’s a bit of confusion on terminology here. There’s a style of riding that I guess you call vehicular cycling and there’s a mode of advocacy called vehicular cycling.

When I say VC, I’m only talking about the second one.

VC advocacy does not increase modeshare. In fact, Forester does NOT want to do this! He dismisses this goal as a “popularity contest”.

VC advocacy is about blocking infrastructure, increasing penalties on cyclists who do not ride VC, and getting people to take classes so that they are “educated”.

With this mindset, if you did not take a class and you get hit by a car, it’s your fault.

Sounds kind of harsh to me, but this is precisely what they say.

I believe in sustainable safety.

Note that in road design ther’s almost no consideration of safety especially to non-motorists. This is why the NHTSA and the AAA pushes for helmets, safety classes, and bright orange vests. Anything that does not admit that high speed traffic is the problem and pushes all the responsibility for dangerous road conditions and dangerous motorists onto cyclists and pedestrians. This is why we push back so hard against these things.


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