Like all world, or perhaps moreso, the world of cycling is full of useless arguments.

Some topics are a matter of opinion and thus are outside the realm of reasonable debate; these topics are argued to death.

Other topics are a matter of facts and thus are outside the realm of reasonable debate; these topics, too, are argued to death.

1. Whether one ought to wear a helmet or not.

To each their own. In reality there is no “cycling helmet” but rather an array of disimilar products. Nobody did a large study with a single helmet that proved that it prevented injuries.

If they do, I’ll post the study and promote that brand and model of helmet.

2. Whether one should advocate for or against government spending on cycling. Yes, folks there are some people who claim to be for cycling, but they argue against any kind of government spending and scientific/fact based planning for cycling. No joke.

3. Whether to follow all traffic laws or not?

Follow all traffic laws, but don’t tell other people to do so. Don’t argue in favor of breaking traffic laws.

However, following the traffic laws does not grant anyone with more safety than those who disobey the laws.

Also, cyclists aren’t a magical class of people who disobey traffic laws. Most cyclists own and operate automobiles so you can cross apply their law breaking nature to cars, trucks, scooters, skateboards, and pogo sticks. 🙂

4. Whether or not traffic laws are enforced “enough” for cyclists, only.

This differs from #3 because that item is addressed to things the cycling community can do. Here we speak about the political and law enforcement response to cycling and the myriad of problems that it allegedly causes.

We hear people repeatedly, ad nauseum, that cyclists don’t respect the law and thus deserve nothing from the legal system. The answer is more tickets, license plates for bicycles, and licenses for the cyclists.

In many ways, in an abstract way, I am in favor of these things. Let’s treat us all fairly.

When we look at details, however, this starts to not make sense. I think that overall, we enforce traffic laws against cyclists too much.

This is because “enforcement” is not an unending well we can dip into whenever we want. Law enforcement is expensive; it has a cost. It may have a benefit, but this benefit must out way the cost.

We are told now, that the government is very, very poor and that we don’t have the money, resources, or interest to go after those who kill cyclists. And yet we have money for a ticket for someone who ran a stop sign?

I’m open to more ideas, but I don’t think that there is any benefit at all to having a human police officer waste time that they could use to go after child murderers, like the ones who run down our children with the blessing, currently, of our local law enforcement.

Until we can get the number of road deaths down, we need to keep focusing on that goal rather than going after those who merely annoy us.

After all, if we make cycling really hard, some people, like me, will be behind the wheel of a large automobile. If you think I am a threat now (I’m not) then imagine what imaginary damage I’d do if I were motoring?

And no, my morals won’t magically change. I believe in following all traffic laws now. That will continue in a car. I see people in cars who run lights and stop signs now. I imagine their cycling is a mirror image of their motoring habits.

6. Whether or not infrastructure should be built.

I say yes. It can make things safer.

There are a bunch of fallback positions. Each one of these is made up. If we concerned ourselves with arguing all fallback positions, we’ll waste a ton of time, as these arguments are often made up on the spot for the purpose of refuting infrastructure. Thus they are dishonest because they don’t seek to explain a point of view or give new information, but they are rather noise created in dismay.

a. It can’t be made safe thus we don’t want it.

Once it’s proven safe:

b. People don’t want it.

Once it’s proven popular:

c. It won’t be built; there’s no political will. Also, it’s too expensive so tax payers won’t pay for it.

In cases like Portland and Long Beach where there is political will we get a lot of arguments, an argument bloom:

d. The American implementation will be worse than the Dutch design.

e. Americans are too stupid to figure out new things and will die.

Once this is brushed aside, we get more abstract:

f. It’s not fair to motorists to build it.

g. It will slow me, personally, down.

h. It will take away my Right to the Road which is more sacred than safety, efficiency, and comfort.

Usually, we land at ‘h’, but it takes a lot of time. Let’s always start at ‘h’. I wrote a post about how the whole notion of “Rights to the Road” is nonsense.

7. What do you feel about Critical Mass?

This is a time suck argument that you can never win.

Instead of going head to head on this, you should just get the person talking more.


Also, usually, the person has not thought things through, totally.

Thus, the idea is to lead them to coming to their own conclusions.

Note that there is no right answer and you probably won’t like what you hear.

Thus, the point is to remain calm and to keep redirecting them.

a. How are they “evil”, specifically?

b. How have they personally, negatively, been affected by CM?

c. If you had a magic wand, and you could change CM, what would you do?

d. Police have said, regarding cycling issues that they are strapped and that cycling is not a priority when they have bigger issues such as kidnapping. In the light of this, how would you like to prioritize police spending.

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