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Posted by on Aug 27, 2008 in Bicycle Culture | 7 comments

Imagine… a different kind of friendliness

It’s a cute little feel-good video. Their cultural goal and sense of community are very appealing. Their “solution” is both a fantasy and a failure of imagination.

Imagine…

If anyone could hop on a bike and go anywhere because cyclists are an accepted part of an integrated traffic culture on the roads we already have.

Imagine…

If anyone could hop on a bike and go anywhere because cyclists were encouraged to acquire the knowledge and skill to operate safely as vehicle drivers on the roads we already have.

Imagine…

If everyone felt safe on the roads we have because: They understood where the dangers are, and where they are not; they were expected and respected there; our society enforced the traffic laws and stopped handing out driver’s licenses like entitlements; and we actually made sure to keep repeat offenders off the road.

Imagine…

How much less expensive that would be, how much more access it would create for cyclists and how much more livable it would make the community FOR EVERYONE.

People will hop on their bikes…

If biking is made a normal, accepted and respected part of the traffic mix.

Friendliness is an attitude.
It must be instilled in the culture.

Imagine.

7 Comments

  1. I liked the music. It had a nice swing, with a jazzy beat. I give it a 7.

    As for the video… most of the scenes were very pleasant, but we need to get all those friendly people to wear happy helmets! They could get killed any second! [/snark]

    Of course, the real problem is the presumption that the “special facility” will go from your house to where you work or shop or eat. There’s only one infrastructure element that will ever do that: public streets, and all public streets are never going to have “bike happy” treatments, but if that’s the expectation, that will also always be the excuse.

    I also noticed the beautiful scenes, as opposed to the far more common reality of paths under bare power transmission corridors, bike lanes along crowded thoroughfares, hills, flood prone canal paths, etc.

    It’s kind of like the old joke about Bill Gates choosing his eternity in hell. “Oh,” says Satan, “that was just the screen saver.”

    • “Special” facilities for cyclists make us “Special” cases, which harbors resentment from drivers, who historically owned the road for their whole lifetimes. At some point, planners are going to have to make streets increasingly motorist hostile of necessity, which will probably not make them more forgiving of those who clutter up Their streets with unsafe, slow bicycles.

  2. LOL! Well said!

    I have a post saved up about excuses and the Whack-a-Mole Principle… coming soon

  3. pmsummer, I’d be willing to bet that the no-helmet scenes are shot in areas where drivers have more respect for the cyclists than they do in the USA and that the cyclists are probably better skilled than many here in this country. Not to start a helmet war, but I think helmets have become the wrong focus for many cycling advocates. I crashed into a tree in 1980, wearing a plastic mushroom known as a Bell, at a time when my wife and I were the only ones in the club with those funny things on our heads. I credit the helmet with limiting the injuries to my alleged mind, but have not had another crash since in which a helmet would have mattered. The funny thing is after the crash, there were six riders with helmets on the next ride and the following ride had six more.

    I’ve found that most of the roads on which I ride are bike happy, but only because I’m happy to be biking on them!

  4. Thanks for this… I’m referencing you on my blog at bigislandchronicle.com. With aloha!

  5. There are two basic lies at the heart of this video – two lies that create the false need for separate bicycling infrastructure:

    Lie #1 is that road cycling is dangerous. Cycling on the road is safer than driving a car and safer even than walking on the sidewalk. If you walk anywhere without fear, then you should never fear getting on your bike.

    Lie #2 is that bike paths can ever be everywhere. This can never, ever, happen. The reality is that there will always be the need for cyclists to operate on roads. While this is the case (and it is always going to be the case) our money is far better spent making roads safer.

    We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the western world on what is essentially a massive boondoggle – a network of bicycle pathways that have the appearance of usefulness, safety and friendliness, but which will never make cycling easier, safer or better.

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