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Posted by on Aug 28, 2008 in Bicycle Culture | 8 comments

The Whack-a-Mole Principle

 whack a mole photo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

87% of Americans commit to bicycle commuting. Bike path to be built.

RUBY SLIPPERS, KS— Results are in for America’s most comprehensive survey of bicycle transportation. Almost nine of ten adult Americans say they definitely might occasionally be likely to bicycle to work once in a while given a government-provided bicycle and a commute less than 3 miles with no hills on sunny days between 64 and 71 degrees when they had no other errands to run if their employer provided monetary incentives with mileage reimbursement, shower facilities, indoor secured bicycle parking and free taxi rides home for emergencies if gasoline prices skyrocket except for Mondays and Fridays if a bicycle path was available. A spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration called the survey results exciting verification for FHWA’s bicycle transportation program which helps local transportation agencies find a scenic creek bank where the bike path can be installed.

By Jack R. Taylor, Probicycle.com

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who said something like, “yeah, I’d really like to bike to work, but…” and as soon as you offered them a solution to their excuse, they offered you another excuse?

Those are the same people who answer transportation surveys, saying they would use a bike for transportation if there were were separated facilities on every road. But if (God forbid) they were given their facilities, it would be too hot, too cold, too dark, too wet, too far…

John Ciccarelli told me this:

Your target audience spans a spectrum from “1 – When Can I Start?” to “5 – You’ll only pry this steering wheel from my cold dead fingers” — so focus on pie slices #1 and #2 and don’t waste time and budget on the rest. Your success with the low-hanging fruit and promotion of those success stories may induce some #3′s to become #2′s, #4′s to become #3′s, etc.

The 1′s and 2′s have already overcome the excuses and are encouraged with good information. Learning the best practices of Effective Cycling will empower them and give them plenty of success stories to tell. They, in turn, will influence the potential cyclists in their lives with positive stories and a sense of comfort on the road. That is worth way more than 100 miles of expensive illusions.

Ultimately, the main thing that overcomes obstacles and excuses is self-interest or desire.

What initially motivated you to use a bike for transportation?

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8 Comments

  1. I couldn’t checkmark all of them, but I would have if I could, for it was a combination of them that got me started… but its the personal feeling of accomplishment in bettering my health, the environment, my wallet, and the discovered enjoyment of cycling that keeps me doing it.

  2. I’m one of those outlier freaks who can’t answer your survey as written. I started commuting by bike at age 10 (to my first paper route) and never stopped. I guess you could say my initial motivation was, “It’s faster than walking!”

  3. Bicycling Magazine published a survey sometime in the late 20th century that looked amazing like Jack’s. Rodale took it all very seriously, of course.

  4. Mighk: I think that falls under addiction!

    Andrew: Yeah, it’s a tough choice. Most of us have more than one reason. I wavered on whether to allow selection of more than one, but I really want to zero in on the most important reason.

    A lot of people start with one reason and discover other aspects are more meaningful. I invite those stories here, in comments!!

  5. For me it was deffinitely a sense of freedom. I remember the first time pulled up to school and parked my bike in the rack next to the front door. I thought right then and there, NEVER AGAIN will I be a slave to parking in that lot.

    on another note:

    I guess I have to consider myself a bike path apologist. I have found that a lot of people need to be reminded that they love biking. Its hard for someone who hasn’t been on a bike in 15-20 years want to tear off through through traffic just because I tell them its perfectly safe. There needs to be a comfort level regained with the bike itself. I guess I kind of view bike trails as a type of training wheels.

  6. Alex, I agree with you on that point.

    I’m not against MUPs, I enjoy riding on them when they serve my destination. They stimulate recreational cycling, and that’s a good thing. Some serve transportation cyclists very well by allowing them to bypass congested arterial roads.

    I have a problem with the thinking that MUPs can: 1) substitute for education; 2) create a separated transportation network which will; 3) suddenly transform a car culture into a bike culture. That thinking leads to side-paths, cycle-tracks and hideous urban trails with intersections every 40 feet.

    One of the detriments of our sprawl culture is the loss of connectivity of low-volume roads. People who live in little broccoli subdivisions have to take their bikes somewhere to ride them if they are not comfortable on high-speed roads. That’s affected our thinking about cycling on the road and has us looking for separated solutions by default instead of looking at existing structures and how we can make minor changes, physically and socially, to enhance cycling.

    When I started riding in this town in 1986, there were no bike lanes or trails. I studied maps (I love maps) and rode my bike on mostly low-volume streets from Casselberry to Belle Isle. You can do that still.

  7. I agree with your 3 points about the Paths. Particularly #1. The paths do seem to promote a certain kind of laziness when it comes to etiquette and following the rules. (i.e. a family of five should not ride side by side around a blind corner just because there is no chance of cars coming.) Obviously this laziness can translate into extreme danger when you DO throw cars into the mix.

    I also agree that we aren’t really going forward if we seek only to separate the two means of transport.

    I do think the bike paths can serve to transform lifestyles. It has been my experience that my friends have started by taking their bikes to paths, realized that riding 4 to 5 miles is easy, and eventually wanted to commute to work and school. From there they are asking me questions about low traffic roads through neighborhoods and what the laws are for bicycles. Next thing I know me and my friends are only using our cars to go to the beach. In a way, I owe it all to bike paths.

    By the way, I also love the maps. With emergence of Google Street View and other electronic satellite views I have been able to find all kinds of cool routes.

  8. “Next thing I know me and my friends are only using our cars to go to the beach. In a way, I owe it all to bike paths.”

    That makes me smile! Very cool!

    The google mapping tools are great! They take out the guesswork of where you’ll find traffic light protection to cross a major road, what roads are paved, where you might find a parking lot to cut through from one low-volume road to another… a welcome improvement from the old street atlas.

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  1. Bicycle News Roundup, 9/8/08 | Austin Bike Blog - [...] Some news of interest to commuter and urban cyclists: The Whack-a-Mole Principle, Orlando Bike Commuter Blog [...]