Archive for September, 2013

Bad New Bicycling: Your Bicycle Riding Don’t Mean Sh-t

September 10, 2013

Before I get accused of being a pesimist or my words hurting “cycling advocacy” let me note that I am very self-aware of how unimportant my blog is even in the tiny world that is San Diego cycling.

Also, I write every blog post, but this one in particular, with great love and respect to cycling. So get a grip.
I just wanted to address the fact that in the world of advocacy there are many things that one can do and the results, for long term viability of cycling comfort, safety, and efficiency as well as the impact on the sheer number of cyclists is vast.

Some things that one does for advocacy are super-effective and important. Others are so useless as to be a waste of time.

One thing that’s not really effective is bicycle riding itself.

Heresy! Haha.

While most advocates start by actually riding a bicycle, bicycle riding is NOT advocacy. And by extension, “getting more people on bikes” is pretty useless as an advocacy method, too.

Sure, if each cyclist could each get ten of their friends on bikes and these ten people could get ten more on bikes, in a few days, we’d be the Vehicular Cycling Capitol of the West and we wouldn’t need stinkin’ bike lanes because there wouldn’t be any cars on the road.

But let’s look at the fact that we’ve been preaching this dogma for over forty years. If anything, the number of people on bicycles has gone down. What are we doing wrong?

First, we should try the “ten on a bike” method. I’ll wait.

OK, if you’re reading this, I assume you hopped on your bicycle and convinced ten people to plop a few hundred dollars on a bicycle, rearrange their entire lives to the point of giving up many things that they love but can no longer reach because it’s too far to bike in a single day. Now these ten people are riding around, hopefully you told them to get lights, at night, frantically getting ten brand new people to climb on the saddle right? If not, you just proved your plan totally wrong.

It’s really hard to get a single person to ride some of the time. And there are many people who claim that they’d never ride a bike.

Again, I don’t think that this point of view is “negative”. Rather a negative point of view would be one which suggests that the human mind is too weak to face the truth and that we need to tell ourselves fairy tales to get through the day.

My view is that not only are we strong enough to recognize the challenges that we face, but that this is the first step to overcoming them.

How to do this? We must realize that we have limited resources and that some of our advocacy actions are more effective than others.

Instead of talking to individuals to try to coerce them to ride on roads that suck, why not make the environment better?

Everywhere cyclists have a large presence their presence is a lot larger than a few people on bicycles. Rather, through permanent infrastructure, their political power is omipresent no matter what time of day it is and no matter where one is in the city.

Thus, instead of wasting time on powerless individuals, we should focus our attentions, like a laser beam, on those who can make a difference. Convince those people to change and we win.

But, the objection goes, we must first get people on bicycles to prove that we need infrastructure. If we don’t have the numbers on the bicycles, we can’t get things built.

This is a losing strategy, but one that’s been preached by advocates and government officials alike. This thinking is the product of those who don’t actually want to build infrastructure. If they wanted it, it would get built. Instead we get an array of hoops that we need to jump through. Once we are done with another hoop, we get another.

We need more people on bikes. Done.

We need to follow the laws. Done.

We need to get people elected. Done.

We need our voices to be heard. Done.

We need to get people who stand in the way fired, shamed, and driven from their profession. Now you’re talking.

We need people who build the roads to be more afraid of NOT building infrastructure than anything else. Yes!

Because fear is the main motivator for those in charge.

We have been cheerleaders. We’ve been good citizens. We paid our taxes. We voted. We got people on bikes. And we got nothing.

This is because the people who make our streets dangerous go to bed without fear.

Let’s stand up, apply ever legal method possible, and clear out the obstacles, the small minded people who can only think of taking public dollars and squandering them on a system which has failed us.

When It Comes to Infrastructure Speed Equals Convenience

September 6, 2013

In a previous post [], I talked about how I felt that infrastructure should be focused on making bicyle traffic faster rather than just focusing on safer.

While I still stand by this statement, I realized later that was misunderstood.

By faster, I don’t mean that each bicycle is going as fast as possible at all times. What I should have said was more convenient. Specifically what this means is:

1. Making all hills 8% grade or less. To the surprise of many motorists who have grown up driving on freeways which are 6% or less, we actually have technology which can level hills. This is call dynamite and bulldozers. It’s expensive, but it’s a one time cost. Plus, we spend so much money, all ready, to make transportation more comfortable why not continue this trend in the cycling world? Why do we have to pretend that it’s all about safety when CYCLING IS ALL READY ONE OF THE SAFEST MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION AROUND. (My fact checker forced me to say that public transportation is safer than cycling. There! I said it.)

2. Make bicycle connections between corridors go in straight lines. This means bicycle only bridges over canyons, cycle tracks on ALL major roads, using eminant domain to obtain property to build cycling freeways, and to build motoring bridges and detours around major cycling facilities.

3. FACILITIES FOR CYCLING SHOULD NOT BE MULTI-USE. TICKETS SHOULD BE ISSED TO DOG WALKERS, STROLLER JOGGERS, AND NAPPERS WHO GUM UP DEDICATED CYCLING FACILITIES. (I know, we don’t have dedicated cycling facilities. Yet.) We should treat our multi-use sharing brothers and sisters (and dogs) with love and respect. If a trail is multi-use then respect. But you don’t tolerate people standing in the middle of the freeway blathering into his cell phone and we shouldn’t accept this on our future cycle paths, either.

I have not budgeted this, but we could probably due this for a few billion dollars which would mean that we’d have the most convenient transportation system in the country for least amount of money.