Fearmongering, Specious Arguments and Outright Lies

If you dare. If you have a strong stomach—or a stiff drink on hand—go have a look at this masterpiece:

Cyclists do not have the same rights as motorists on roads
by CARL SCULLY, former roads minister

Then, if you’re so inclined, come back and paste into the comments the paragraph that most annoyed you. There are just so many, I can’t choose.

I like trails for the sake of trails. I like the quiet interlude. I like the access they sometimes provide. I don’t consider the road unsafe. I don’t consider trails to be safer than the road—the safety of both is mostly dependent on the users. However, it’s important to recognize that badly-designed trails can be unsafe and are far more common than badly-designed roads. Any time someone from the car culture wants to build replacement infrastructure for you, be afraid, be very afraid.

Where there are roadway safety issues, it is almost always a result of irresponsible behavior by road users. Suggesting bicyclists be removed from the road because they are in danger (or worse, their presence causes danger to others) is nothing more than endorsement of inattentive and irresponsible driving.

23 replies
  1. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    Another poor use of words that corrupt thoughts. “Dangerous roads” is a meaningless phrase. Roads with dangerous drivers puts responsibility where it belongs, but the former roads minister apparently cannot fathom that thought!

  2. rodney
    rodney says:

    “…..I would be happy to see a ban during morning and evening peak times. Time-of-day cycling would ensure that our roads during peak periods are for the sole use of vehicles and not for the use of cyclists. If pedestrians and cyclists can share off-road cycle ways, then why not where appropriate, share footpaths?”

    Hell yeah, Bicycles get the road all to themselves between rush hours. Thank you to the 9-5er’s!

  3. ToddBS
    ToddBS says:

    I’m not going to read it – mostly because I’m already experiencing some irregular heartbeat today.

    I wonder though what the laws are in Australia. Do cyclists have the same vehicular rights there as they do here in the US? Not that it matters when you have some yahoo spewing forth vitriolic hatred.

  4. P.M. Summer
    P.M. Summer says:

    Well, that’s not terribly different than the policy position pushed by various bicycle “advocacy” groups here in the U.S. of A… Bikes Belong Off the Road, Dunderhead Alliance, and the League of American Bikelanes. Their segregationist, fear-based policies fit hand in glove with Mr. Scully’s sentiments.

    The more cyclists demand segregated facilities, the sooner they will be required to use only them. It follows the fear-mongering campaigns’ logic, step by step.

    • Laura
      Laura says:

      I don’t have a problem with segregated facilities. I view them as being in addition to roadways. Cars have segregated facilities, they’re called toll roads and limited access highways. But, let’s not call multi-use trails what they aren’t – transportation facilities. In most cases they are linear parks and a much more pleasant and often times more direct route to other public facilities, retail areas, etc. They serve a great purpose and I won’t lobby against one, provided it’s designed appropriately (not a sidepath or cycle track) and it makes sense. Sure, they can be used for transportation and provide a much nicer ride from point A to point B, just like a scenic highway provides a pleasant alternative to the limited access freeway.

      I don’t see it as an either or thing.

      • P.M. Summer
        P.M. Summer says:

        I agree, Laura. I’ve built many miles of multi-purpose trails over the years, but they need to be seen as a seasoning and not a main ingredient.

        I’ve seen first-hand that the more trails I built, the less people were willing to use streets, because the underlying message of even well-designed trails is always, “This is safe and it’s where you belong, the roads aren’t” whether that message is intended or not.

        As part of a comprehensive system (I’ve used the toll-road analogy, too), they can be very beneficial, but without heavy doses of education and encouragement, they become psychological liabilities… and tools for those who would agree with Mr. Scully.

  5. ToddBS
    ToddBS says:

    The more cyclists demand segregated facilities, the sooner they will be required to use only them. It follows the fear-mongering campaigns’ logic, step by step.

    I noticed from comments on another site, that this appears to be BikeJax’s stance on what constitutes bicycle culture.

  6. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    “Cyclists are unlikely to be happy being regulated to time-of-day cycling or to footpaths and off-road facilities.”

    That one about says it all for me. Why didn’t he just listen to himself? He is, after all, completely correct.

  7. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Actually, I meant to indicate that THIS particular quote of his is completely correct. I just choose not to repeat the rest of his tripe. Clearly, he had a little too much Foster’s before writing the article…

  8. P.M. Summer
    P.M. Summer says:

    “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

    –Karl Marx

    Being a “right-wing left-brainer”, it’s not everyday I agree with something Herr Marx said. 😉

  9. P.M. Summer
    P.M. Summer says:

    Sorry to be blog-hog, but doing as I am told (a rare event):

    “I have always respected cycling as a healthy means of exercising and socialising with others. In fact in my earlier years, I too, enjoyed cycling as a way of relaxing and exercising.”

    — Carl Scully

    And there is the crux of the matter, right of the bat, and so it has long been. Are bicycles toys or tools? Toy vehicles or vehicles? Do we cyclists want a safe place to ride, or do we want to ride safely?

    I enjoy my tools, but I don’t play with them.

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      You can boil his argument down to this:
      1. Bicycles are toys that are dangerous on the road
      2. The roads are regulated by the government
      3. The government has a duty to keep road users safe

      Therefore, the government should prohibit using bicycles on the roads.

      This is what happens when bicycle advocates (not to mention auto safety advocates) demand that the government “do something” to keep people safe.

      I kind of prefer the “good old days” when, as a bicycle user, I wasn’t “helped” as much by everyone.

  10. Scott
    Scott says:

    I like this gem 🙂

    “No one would suggest it is safe for pedestrians to be on the roadway, so why should it be any different if a pedestrian gets on a bike?”

    Or if a pedestrian gets in a car?

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      That one caught my eye, too.

      In the focus group research done for our Civility Initiative, one of the participants said it was absurd for a cyclist to stand in a left turn lane, since a pedestrian wouldn’t do that.

      I could just picture that person being so proud of his brilliant logic. People say the darnedest things when they’re grasping at justifications for their prejudices.

  11. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    One of the commenters on Copenhagenize used to work for Scully when he was the Minister. Needless to say, he was not impressed.

    “It was generally thought that he had the intellect of a cabbage.”



    I note that Scully is currently out of politics. He was sacked from his portfolio after he lied to Parliament and chose to not stand for re-election to his seat in the subsequent general election.

    Good riddance.

  12. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    [” … am still surprised as to how someone willingly gets on a bike and takes a huge risk with cars, trucks and buses, often travelling well over 80 km/h.

    Motorists get fined for not wearing a seat belt and not strapping their children in properly, for good reason. It is unsafe to be in a vehicle without being belted in properly.

    That leaves cyclists very vulnerable. No one would suggest it is safe for pedestrians to be on the roadway, so why should it be any different if a pedestrian gets on a bike? …..]

    Everything he said applies to motorcycles as well. Would he ban motorcycles? He’d have to if he applied his same logic …. Just utter nonsense.

  13. john
    john says:

    Yes his statements make it clear that strong biases exists and are used to promote and support unsustainable public policies. That essay is a keeper and it unfortunately represents the mindset of many motorized road users.

    His “views were confirmed when I asked the RTA for a detailed briefing on its cycling policies and achievements… I was sent a kid with jeans and a beard, and not much to tell me.” Funny and he probably arrived on a bike too.

  14. Brian DeSousa
    Brian DeSousa says:

    Well, if we all quote a paragraph that most annoyed us, we’d eventually quote the entire article.

    My first impression was that this was written by a sharp guy writing a propaganda piece playing to common superstitions. It has all the characteristics of such, including the “I ride a bike too” line. But based on the line Kevin quoted, I’m not so sure. Maybe he really believes what he wrote?

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