The Bicycling Apocalypse: A Manifesto of Liberation Over Segregation

“We can only liberate our rivers and our seeds and our food, and our educational systems, and redefine and deepen our democracy, by first liberating our minds and decolonizing our minds.”

—Vandana Shiva

apocalypse: a disclosure of something hidden from the majority in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception; the lifting of the veil.

control mythology:  the web of stories, symbols and ideas which define the dominant culture’s sense of normal (including limiting our imagination of social change) and make people think the system is unchangeable.

Bicycling in the United States suffers from a failure of imagination.

Failures of imagination usually grow out of a sense that the current situation is unchangeable.  Cultures often create such a sense of inevitability inadvertently, but in some cases it’s due to an intentional effort by some to maintain the status quo.  Usually there is a control mythology maintaining that sense of certainty.

The Bicyclist Control Mythology can be described thusly:

A significant number of motorists either will not tolerate sharing roadways, or are so incompetent as to be unable to see and avoid hitting bicyclists who are plainly in front of them in the lane.  This control mythology is promoted not to keep bicyclists safe, but to support the belief that bicyclists sharing roadways cause significant delay to motorists.  Underpinning that conviction is the belief that bicyclists are second-class road users.  This control mythology presumes that motorists need to be changed in order for bicyclists to be safe, but cannot be changed.  Since the motorist cannot be changed, bicyclists must be moved out of the way for their own safety.

By insisting bicyclists must be segregated away from motorists in order to be safe, bike advocates are operating under the bicyclist control mythology and inadvertently reinforcing it.

The dominant bicycle advocacy faction takes the position that bicyclists must be segregated into special facilities in order for significant numbers of people to feel safe when cycling.  Many of them also take an adversarial position against the motoring public; often demonizing auto users and pushing to restrict motorist mobility for the sake of bicyclists.  What they do not realize is that by insisting bicyclists must be segregated away from motorists in order to be safe, they are operating under the bicyclist control mythology and inadvertently reinforcing it.  Segregating cyclists actually makes motorists happier, because they believe they no longer have to “worry” about us being “in their way.”  Segregation makes motorists feel good (though they’d feel even better if they didn’t have to pay for those bikeways), but usually at the tangible expense of bicyclists.

Of course the segregationists will debate this.  They believe (or at least they claim, based on extremely weak evidence) that segregated bikeways, separating motorists and bicyclists with paint or raised barriers, improve safety and are the only mechanism by which cycling can be significantly increased.

This debate has been dragging on on internet forums and elsewhere for years, and I’m not interested in rehashing it here.  Instead, I am interested in discussing values.

The segregationists have taken an adversarial stance towards motorists.  Since the majority of adults are motorists, this makes for a foolish political strategy.  Liberated cyclists do not see motorists as the enemy.  They are our fellow citizens.  Yes, they are using machines which cause harm to our communities and to our environment, but they are simply behaving the way the culture expects them to, and to demonize them is to make ourselves look like fools.  Only a very small percentage of the motoring population gives us trouble.

If you take all the things we normally talk about — unsafe streets, a lousy environment, education that’s not working, health-care — everything we know is that none of those are going to get better without a social fabric existing in a neighborhood, a city, a community.  The idea that more programs, more money, better leadership, more expertise, is going to create a different future…  It’s not; and the only thing that’s going to create that is a deeper sense of connectedness, social fabric, community, citizens thinking this place is mine to create.

— Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging

Nature’s biological forces constantly work towards integration.  Integration is the basis for harmony.  Segregation inevitably means “I’ve got mine; you’ve got yours.” It leads to suspicion, not cooperation. That is no way to build community.  The more you are segregated, the less you understand the behaviors of “the other,” and the more they become “strange.”

In nature and on the roadway, margins are where sudden, surprising things happen.

One could say that by directing cyclists to the margin between the roadway (for vehicles) and the sidewalk (for pedestrians) we have been marginalized.  Margins aren’t necessarily bad.  In nature they are where lots of things are happening.  Sudden, surprising things, like a flock of birds bursting out of the forest into the meadow.  Or a car pulling out of a driveway.  The cyclist doesn’t want lots of things happening where he’s traveling.  He wants as few hazards and conflicts as possible, and wants advanced notice of them when they do occur.  Let’s use that margin for better things, such as wider sidewalks for pedestrians, or wider, landscaped buffers between the roadway and the sidewalk.

Before I get into the comparison of liberated cycling versus segregated, note that I am not criticizing trails or paths in independent rights-of-way.  I believe such trails are valuable to communities for a number of reasons.  First is to serve as a place for novice adult cyclists and children to get comfortable operating their unfamiliar machines.  Secondly, they provide pleasant places to ride, without the noise and pollution of auto traffic.  And lastly, they can improve connectivity in some suburban areas; in some cases reducing trip distances for cyclists.

Segregation advocates constantly point to The Netherlands, with its elaborate network of segregated bikeways as their ideal.  But our cultures are different in one very pertinent way; in The Netherlands cycling by adults has always been seen as normal, while in the United States it has been considered strange since at least the end of World War II.

In the 1920s the Dutch bicycling mode share was 80%.  Even at its bottom, cycling had a 15% share in most Dutch cities.  The past four or five generations of Americans on the other hand have been raised in a culture that sees cycling as frivolous; a toy for children or a sport for adults.  In most American cities the bicycling mode share has been below 1%.  That has resulted in a culture that no longer understands cycling, but still believes it does.

This critical difference means that bikeways have different meanings in The Netherlands and the United States.

bicycling system is not just infrastructure.  It also depends on effective laws, competent and caring motorists, and competent cyclists.

Because they’ve always seen adult transportation cycling as normal, the Dutch have built a system intended not merely to separate cyclists from motorists, but to give cyclists priority at intersections and special legal protection in the case of a collision.  They have also continued to train cyclists and motorists thoroughly, because they hold order in high regard.  The desire among both the Dutch politicians and Dutch traffic engineers is to provide the best possible physical and legal environment for cyclists.  So a segregated bikeway in The Netherlands means a place that is well-designed and respected by motorists.  It is to be used by normal, competent cyclists, and the laws are written to favor them.  Dutch cyclists are also highly respected on roadways without bikeways because they are both seen as normal, and generally predictable and competent.

Even so, in many cases in Europe the segregated bikeways have poorer safety performance than cycling in mixed traffic on the roadway.

While accident risk for a cyclist in mixed traffic did not seem to increase to any great extent with growing flows of conflicting motor-vehicles, the same condition increased the risk for cyclists on cycle tracks.  In mixed traffic, the risk per cyclist seemed to decrease with an increased number of cyclists; on a cycle track, the risk seemed independent of the bicycle volume. … Intersections between carriageways [roadways] and cycle tracks are particular locations where infrastructure design often creates problems.  Lack of conspicuity of vulnerable road users is bound to make such situations worse.

— from Safety of Vulnerable Road Users, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1998

The culture creates the system, not the other way around.

Because our American culture has long seen cycling as frivolous and no longer understands it, our engineering community has done a poor job of designing and maintaining bikeways, and our legislative bodies have crafted laws which either do nothing to improve cyclist safety, or actually degrade it.  Motorist training is laughably scarce.
Cyclist training in the United States has suffered from elitist or inept leadership.  Training for adults has been boring and poorly marketed, while training for children has been based mostly on fear and helmet promotion.

So a segregated bikeway in the United States means a place that can be designed to minimum standards, left mostly unmaintained by local governments, and disregarded by motorists.  It is to be used by strange, fearful, or incompetent cyclists.  The laws become meaningless or confusing since legislators don’t understand the hazards and conflicts of cycling.  American cyclists are relatively disdained on roadways because they are perceived as strange and unpredictable.

The culture creates the system, not the other way around.  American bikeway advocates are attempting to take a short-cut; trying to build a system that will change the culture.  One need only look at the anti-cyclist stories burning across the Web to see that isn’t working.

As American cyclists our first goal must be to be seen as normal and predictable.  The solution to that is quite simple.  Be polite to motorists.  Be predictable, which means behaving the way other law-abiding drivers do (which includes controlling a lane when it is warranted).  Be reasonably conspicuous.  And dress like normal people; not Tour de France wannabes.

Key to achieving that goal are the values of trust, cooperation, and nurturing.  The vast majority of motorists treat competent, liberated cyclists in a safe and polite manner, and if we increase the number of competent, liberated cyclists, motorist behavior will only get better, since cooperation breeds more cooperation.  So we must trust motorists to do the right thing.

Expecting motorists to do something they don’t normally do, and which isn’t necessarily in their self-interest, is a set-up for failure.

It’s much easier and more realistic to trust someone to do what they’re already doing and what’s in their self-interest.  In the case of roadway cycling this means motorists already routinely scan ahead for other road users.  Expecting motorists to do something they don’t normally do, and which isn’t necessarily in their self-interest, is a set-up for failure.  In the case of bikeway cycling this means motorists taking the extra effort to scan their blind-spots.

Some segregationists take an elitist stance, believing some cyclists cannot or will not learn.  If we nurture and trust cyclists we can encourage them to become competent and confident roadway users.  In this matter the cycling community has failed in two disparate directions.  It has failed to reach out to novice riders; those who have no interest in becoming club riders.  And the club riders themselves assume they’re already competent and predictable.

Try showing up at the typical club ride or bike shop with a bike from a big box store and you can expect barely hidden ridicule.  Most clubs also have no effective strategies for helping people improve.  Their approach tends to be rather Darwinian.

I quit doing local club rides about ten years ago because their own behaviors had deteriorated to the point that the stress level made riding with them very unpleasant.  Stories from other cities lead me to believe those problems are not unique to my area.

At Bike-Walk Central Florida’s recent First Friday ride, a young woman showed up at the last minute on a low-end, single-speed cruiser bike.  We welcomed her onto the ride and kept the pace low enough that she could stay with us.  Evidently she didn’t “get the memo” that roadway cycling is a dangerous activity and only for those fit enough and outfitted with high-end gear.  Now she is receptive to taking the CyclingSavvy course (after she gets a new bike).  A month or so from now she’ll be willing and able to bike anywhere with safety and confidence, and she won’t need to wait a decade or more for the government to build all the bikeways she “needs” to get around.

Compare that to how segregationists believe they are nurturing cyclists. The following is an account from a cycle-track-riding reporter for the Montreal Gazette. Montreal is known for its many miles of cycle tracks.

“I was no longer simply watching out for traffic or an occasionally inattentive fellow driver.  I was now embedded in a circus.  Pedestrians moving at one speed, cyclists at another and cars at still another, and each of the performers moving to a different set of rules and in different directions.

Not that I didn’t enjoy some of the thrill. But sometimes I just want to get from Point A to Point B without the high drama. That means without riding on the de Maisonneuve bike path downtown.  One of my colleagues was hit by a car last year while cycling on The Path.  The inherent danger, or inherent extra danger, on The Path is that the two cycling lanes in the centre of the city are headed in opposite directions, she pointed out.  So a driver turning left from de Maisonneuve has to watch out for cyclists coming from the west and from the east. And watch out for pedestrians, of course, and other cars.”

My experience using a cycle track in New York City was similar to that of the reporter’s.  His “solution” to this problem — shifting to a parallel street without a cycle track — is quite revealing:

“I’m happy to say that now, I’ve found my own enlightened path to work. … The right-hand lane of René Lévesque is wide enough for a parked car and for me and my bicycle, even with both panniers filled, so I stay out of the lanes of moving traffic.”

He has left the obviously hazardous conditions of the cycle track, only to put himself at risk for other more serious and unsuspected threats.

The right lane he refers to is only wide enough for a parked car and its open door.  This untrained cyclist mistakenly believes riding within the door zone of those parked cars is a safe option.  He has left the obviously hazardous conditions of the cycle track, only to put himself at risk for other more serious and unsuspected threats.  Dooring is the primary cause of cyclist fatalities in large cities.

Controlling a lane in mixed urban traffic is much less stressful than what he reports from the cycle track, and it also reduces the actual number of conflicts and threats.  To lead or force unsuspecting people into such a choice is unethical to say the least.

Training frees and protects the cyclist by enabling her to manage and minimize the hazards and conflicts as they arise.  Segregation confines the cyclist, limiting her choices and forcing her into manufactured conflicts; conflicts which do not exist for the liberated cyclist.

Many years ago I took a try at Tae Kwon Do, spending a few hours per week at a local dojo.  The Master was more-than-a-little full of himself.  One day he sat a bunch of us students down and posed the question: “If you were given a choice between only food or freedom, which would you choose?”  The answer was easy to me.  Choose freedom, because you can then get food on your own.  The Master wasn’t buying it.  Perhaps he was just being argumentative.  Surely choosing food in the hopes you could later gain your freedom could not be a better choice.

This is the choice being presented to cyclists by the bicycle segregationists, with “food” being replaced with “safety.”  You can have the freedom of the road, or the “safety” of segregated bikeways.

Perhaps if your dictator is both benevolent and competent you could accept the choice of safety (or food).  If he’s competent but not benevolent, you’ve got a serious problem.  You’ve also got a big problem if he’s benevolent but incompetent.

Am I being heavy-handed using the term “dictator” as a metaphor for bicycle segregationists?  Perhaps.  Certainly they don’t have anywhere near that kind of power, but we’re seeing mandatory use laws being passed in a number of states.  It’s a common sequence: advocate for bikeways; motorists get upset that cyclists don’t “stay in their place;” mandatory bikeway use law is implemented.  So segregation becomes not merely a preference, but the law of the land.  That’s not quite dictatorship, but neither is it headed toward freedom.  We are at risk of moving from being free, to being socially confined (bike lanes), to being physically and/or legally confined (cycle tracks and/or mandatory use laws).

What cannot be argued is that a bikeway can’t improve safety for cyclists on streets without them.

This might not be so bad if the segregated facilities actually improved safety, but they don’t.  This topic is of course one which has been debated ad infinitum in many cycling forums.  I’m not going to bother to resolve that argument here.  But what cannot be argued is that a bikeway can’t improve safety for cyclists on streets without them.  As was made clear by the story of the Montreal reporter, a cyclist not trained to recognize and manage the risks of cycling might fare well if he or she travels on a well-designed, segregated facility, but could run into serious trouble on streets without them.

“Fine,” you might say, “let’s get busy building those bikeways.”

How long will that take?  How much will that cost?  The City of Chicago just committed to building a single mile of cycle track.  The project will cost $3 million.  Multiply that by Chicago’s 17,000 miles of highways and arterials and the bill will be $51 billion.  And that’s just Chicago.  If Chicago spent $100 million per year on cycle tracks it would take 510 years to “make all their streets safe for bicyclists.”  Simple math shows even bringing the cost down to $300,000 per mile means 51 years to complete the system.  Under that extremely rosy scenario, ten years from now 80 percent of Chicago’s streets will still lack “safe accommodation.”  So untrained cyclists who must use those streets will be out of luck for quite some time.

What’s more, at least a third of cyclist/motorist crashes happen on low-speed neighborhood streets which won’t get such bikeways.  Training, on the other hand, helps a cyclist everywhere.  With effective training a cyclist can use those quiet local streets when desired and possible, and use the arterials where necessary.

The beauty of training is that the more people you train, the more trainers you can enlist, and more normative the new behaviors appear.  So it’s a positive feedback system that gains power and momentum.  A trained cyclist can travel anywhere, immediately, instead of being limited to bicycle-specific infrastructure.

A typical six-lane arterial like the one getting a cycle track in Chicago carries about 60,000 car trips per day.  No doubt the segregation advocates would be thrilled if the cycle track stimulated cycling to a 20 percent mode share; 12,000 bike trips per day.  If it’s a round trip that means it serves 6,000 cyclists.  So 6,000 cyclists get to “safely” use one mile of arterial each day.

How about we try this.  Pay 200 Chicagoans $50 per hour to teach 25 ten-hour traffic cycling courses per year. That comes to $2,500,000 ($12,500 for each instructor).  Each instructor can teach five students per class, which is 25,000 students.  Since people don’t believe cycling training has value, let’s pay them to take the course; say $50 each.  That comes to $1,250,000.  Total cost: $3,750,000.

Which sounds like a better deal?  $3 million to give 6,000 cyclists access to one mile of arterial, or $3.75 million to give 25,000 cyclists access to 17,000 miles of arterial?

Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” But with segregated bikeways it is not “temporary safety,” but the illusion of safety.

Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  But with segregated bikeways it is not “temporary safety,” but the illusion of safety.

Of course the average person cannot even imagine cycling on arterials, since he or she is convinced it’s not possible to do so safely.  But what if they heard a number of stories from people who say, “I was just like you; I used to keep to the sidewalks and trails.  I didn’t think it was possible, but now I do it all the time and it’s fine.  In fact, it’s really cool.”

Effective stories spread and grow exponentially.

We can liberate current and potential bicyclists from their fears and from the inherent hazards of cycling near the edge of the road or on the sidewalks.  We can liberate them from the belief that they can only bike safely on paths and on streets with bikeways.  We know we can because we already have.

If we can show a woman in her sixties, who only a couple years ago was afraid to bike on a two-lane, low-speed collector street with bike lanes, how to be safe and comfortable cycling on four- and six-lane arterials…

If a young father, who initially started cycling to save money (from high gas prices) and began by cycling on sidewalks can, in a couple years, be confident enough to teach other cyclists how to bike on the road…

If we can show a young mom how to bike anywhere she likes, confident that she can safely transport her children on her bike as well…

If we can show a seventy-year-old man, who previously only transported his bike to a local trail on his SUV to ride, how to be confident enough now to bike to the grocery store, to church, and to any other destination…

…then we can teach most adults to get around safely and confidently on our existing roads.

Liberated cyclists are the new order.  We are not trying to stop “progress,” we are freeing people from the oppression of the bicyclist control mythology.  There is no us-versus-them.  There is only us-versus-ourselves, and our self-limiting beliefs.  Come join us.  We’ll have fun together learning how to be safe on your streets today.  We’ll show you how to get motorists to do what you want them to do (because they already want to do the right thing).  It’s easy.  Or you could wait ten years or more for the government to give you some poorly designed facilities that force you into manufactured conflicts and don’t go where you need to go.


112 replies
    • Fred Ollinger
      Fred Ollinger says:

      In the US the modeshare is so low that cycling is effectively illegal.

      Ask _anyone_ who is not brainwashed and they will tell you that the streets suck.

      As a cycling commuter, I agree.

      They are way too loud and dangerous.

      “. Experienced cyclists such as
      myself knew that the major collision hazards came from conditions
      ahead of the cyclist, just as they do for motorists, but we had no
      scientific data on this point.”

      Actually for motor vehicle, the #1 risk is rear ending which is at the rate of 2.5 million per year for autos. Great to spread this risk to unprotected cyclists.

      “California contracted with Ken Cross to
      make a statistical study of car-bike collisions, in the expectation
      that this study would demonstrate the truth of the superstition that
      the greatest hazard to cyclists came from same-direction motor
      traffic. Ken’s study was presented to the California Statewide Bicycle
      Committee at a meeting room in the Sacramento Airport. After the
      presentation, I rather naively pointed out that the Cross study
      supported all that I had been saying and utterly disproved the
      supposed basis for California’s policy.”

      According to Ken Cross in 1977:

      “The fear of overtaking accidents is well founded since the likelihood
      of fatal injuries is indeed higher for overtaking accidents than for any
      other class of accidents revealed by this study.”

      All of VC is based upon this study which can be found here:

      Read the original study and newer studies which show that facilities make cycling much more popular and much safer.

      Don’t let this antiquated dogma continue to keep cycling down to a marginal level in the United States.

      Travel to places where cycling is normal and not mocked as being the area of lycra clad freaks like in 40 Year Old Virgin.

      One trip and you’ll realize that everything they say is total nonsense. Infrastructure makes cycling safe, efficient, comfortable, and popular.

  1. Robert
    Robert says:

    In one breath:
    The lane is a public utility filled with the same species of drivers, and different vehicle types all needing the same functions. Courteous, educated operators as well as savvy pedestrian is all we need to have the best lane based transportation system in the world.
    Thanks Mighk for your time.

  2. Roger
    Roger says:

    Yes, well said, and we must teach the children (and adults) how to use the facilities as they are designed and in place today. It is our duty to build a knowledge and skill base that will prepare them for a “time and conditions that we will never see”.
    Ride On!

  3. JAT in Seattle
    JAT in Seattle says:

    I totally love this (even though the use of the word “freedom” makes me a little nervous these days, as it obviously means very different thing to different people). Benevolant but incompetant dictator – perfect turn of phrase.

    Locally our “mutual responsibilities” (safe passing distance with added MBL) bill was tabled when the road users intended to be benefited spoke up against it.

    • NE2
      NE2 says:

      This isn’t necessarily a new thing. How long have we heard of the “freedom of the open road”, that is, the freedom to keep others from slowing you down?

  4. cliff
    cliff says:

    I find the claims made by “bicycle advocates” somewhat
    interesting. They say that mixing bikes with cars is
    dangerous and the only way to make roads safe is by
    adding bike lanes or cycle tracks. They also say they are
    just looking out for the best interests of ALL cyclists.
    If this is true then shouldn’t they be promoting bike bans
    on any road without a segregated facility?

    • Mighk Wilson
      Mighk Wilson says:

      Because they believe the important thing about segregated bikeways is that they make people FEEL safer. They’re stuck between accepting that integrated cycling is reasonably safe, and saying segregation is necessary for safety. So their answer is integration is OK for competent adults, but not for the 8/80 crowd. But they refuse to admit that segregation makes both cyclist scanning and motorist scanning more complicated. How can a more complicated system work better for an 8-year-old or an 80-year-old?

      They can get away with this because the average person does not understand the problems.

    • Fred Ollinger
      Fred Ollinger says:

      Yes, the second Cross study said this, that we should ban cycling on certain roads for safety.

      The fact is that safety and “rights to the road” are opposites.

      Countries which built infrastructure which has been attacked based upon racist terms like “segregation” are much, much safer for cyclists. This fact is really a pain in the ass for people who continue the myth that mixing with traffic is safe.

      The main thing that keeps cyclists safe in the US is the low mode share. If more people rode VC in the US, you’d see a much higher rate of rear ending fatalities.

      In fact, the more VC a city is, that is the less “segregated” (sic) the higher percent of cycling deaths you see. This is a very robust finding.

      The Dutch traffic engineers are very ashamed of the very low number of deaths in the Netherlands, and they strive to do more to protect all road users.

      If only our own cycling “experts” were half as humble.

      Not only are they proud of our “free” aka deadly lack of cyling infrastructure, they blame the unfortunate cycling victims of their lack of design for their own deaths.

      How perverse.

  5. Harry Lieben
    Harry Lieben says:

    I’m sorry, but your story of total segregation and car-hating cyclists is not at all recognizable for somebody like me, who lives in probably the cyclist-friendliest country on this Earth. There is no need to put a bike lane next to each road, so your simple math is making no sense at all. Please come to Holland and see for yourself. Talk to the Dutch and you’ll learn that most ride a bike AND drive a car. Segregation is a myth.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Harry, You either skipped that part of the essay or you missed the point.

      Because they’ve always seen adult transportation cycling as normal, the Dutch have built a system intended not merely to separate cyclists from motorists, but to give cyclists priority at intersections and special legal protection in the case of a collision. They have also continued to train cyclists and motorists thoroughly, because they hold order in high regard. The desire among both the Dutch politicians and Dutch traffic engineers is to provide the best possible physical and legal environment for cyclists. So a segregated bikeway in The Netherlands means a place that is well-designed and respected by motorists. It is to be used by normal, competent cyclists, and the laws are written to favor them. Dutch cyclists are also highly respected on roadways without bikeways because they are both seen as normal, and generally predictable and competent.

      • Zvi
        Zvi says:

        Keri, don’t forget that it was a Dutch traffic engineer (Hans Monderman) who came up with the concept of ‘shared space’. In such street environments, all traffic demarcations are removed and the space (also known as a “naked street”) is open to everyone. The interactions between cyclists, pedestrians, cars, trucks, and other vehicles are not at all ‘orderly’, but they occur at ‘human-scale’ (ie slowly and based on personal interactions) and are quite safe.

        Another point is that many Northern European cities have pedestrian and cyclist NETWORKS which do not necessarily share the same street-space as motorized vehicular traffic. These are complete networks which are well-connected and actually lead to desirable destinations. The road-network is intended more for fast-moving traffic….

        • Mighk
          Mighk says:

          Yes. I don’t recall which country it was, but in one of the shared space projects they removed the cycle tracks and cyclist crashes went down. Indeed, all crashes dropped.

    • Mighk Wilson
      Mighk Wilson says:

      While Keri made the key point, I’d like to add that you do indeed have segregation between motorists and cyclists. It is not absolute, but it is common. Any time you say “these folks go here; those folks go there” you have segregation. Pedestrians are segregated from vehicular traffic both here and in Europe. (Except for in woonerfs and some other situations). Is that bad? For the most part no.

      The question is, does segregation improve, damage or have no effect on the relationship between bicyclists and motorists? Again, it depends. In The Netherlands it does no damage EXACTLY because most people are already both cyclists and motorists. In the U.S. segregation is damaging because most motorists are not bicyclists. Building Dutch-style infrastructure will not change that.

      • Zvi
        Zvi says:

        “most motorists are not bicyclists” … personally I think that learning how cyclists and pedestrians perceive the road environment should be part of the requirements for acquiring a driver’s licence.

        • Keri
          Keri says:

          Absolutely! That would be a huge step toward changing the culture.

          One of the key challenges we have in the US is the lack of priority on ANY kind of driver education, let alone an emphasis on understanding the needs and rights of all road users.

    • John S. Allen
      John S. Allen says:

      Harry has a point: Mike’s math would place a special facility on every street. In Amsterdam, these are only on major streets; smaller streets are slow-speed zones with mixed traffic and through traffic excluded. That said, I’ve seen examples of some rather poor bicycle facilities in the Netherlands too. Examples: Much mixing of bicyclists with pedestrians; and curbs alongside the edges of paths, which will topple a bicycle — the AASHTO guide in the USA calls for rideable shoulders. But to one who lives in the Netherlands, the problems there would seem normal just as our situation does to most people here.

      • Keri
        Keri says:

        Mighk said, “Multiply that by Chicago’s 17,000 miles of highways and arterials…”

        Highways and arterials are not every street.

        • NE2
          NE2 says:

          17,000 seems very high, however. Here’s a very rough calculation:
          Chicago’s area ~ 225 mi^2 = 15 mi x 15 mi
          Assuming a grid of two arterials per mile, we have 60 arterials of 15 miles each, for a total of 900 miles. Obviously my calculations are about as rough as they can be, but a factor of about 20 seems high. I’d like to see Mighk’s source for 17,000 miles.

          (By the way, John, Mighk is his real name, not a “cute” way of spelling Mike.)

      • Mighk
        Mighk says:

        I should have noted that the 17,000 miles was for the entire metro Chicago area, not just the city.


        Still, all those folks in the suburbs would probably “need” those cycle tracks, too.

        To do NE2s estimate of 900 miles of arterials for just the City at $3 million a mile would be $2.7 billion.

        My $300,000 cycle track option was outrageously optimistic by intention. An engineering colleague with about 40 years experience told me it would cost “at least a million dollars per mile” to build them here in Central Florida. So the $3 million per mile is quite realistic.

        A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money…

        • NE2
          NE2 says:

          Ah, that makes more sense. Assuming a similar definition of Chicago metro area as Wikipedia (latter is most likely from the US Census), I get 40,000 miles with my extremely rough calculation. And suburbs likely have at most one arterial per mile.

  6. Harry Lieben
    Harry Lieben says:

    Yes I skipped that part Keri, my bad. It is very flattering but it is not correct. I have never received any cycle-training, nor did i receive thorough training with cyclists in mind when I got my drivers license. When you talk about us liking order, then you must be mistaking us with our neighbours, the Germans. They DO have lousy cyclepaths BTW, but at least they don’t have to use them when they are not reasonably suited. So I choose myself when I’m in Germany whether to use cyclepath or road and that has never been a problem. In Holland I almost always use the cyclepath, it’s simply common sense.
    I grew up on a bike like most Dutch children do and that is exactly what is needed in any country to ever get any real numbers of cyclists. I also do not remember too much cycling with my parents, I learned how to behave in traffic from older children. I suppose in your country the cycling rate is so low that you have to start from scratch, teaching adults how to go about on the roads that are there now. You mustn’t forget however that children want to explore their neighbourhood on their own at some point. The bicycle is just the thing for that. The best way to grow into good cycling skills is to let them travel by cyclepath.
    I’m very sorry to see the controversy between cycling advocates, because there really isn’t any. A good cyclepath is a good cyclepath, period. When authorities force you to use a bad cycle-path, then I would think that that has to be adressed instead of opposing new cyclepaths.

    • MikeOnBike
      MikeOnBike says:

      “I suppose in your country the cycling rate is so low that you have to start from scratch, teaching adults how to go about on the roads that are there now.”

      Yes, that’s one of the points of the article: “The culture creates the system, not the other way around. American bikeway advocates are attempting to take a short-cut; trying to build a system that will change the culture.”

      Our current culture supports cycling as recreation (on mountain bikes, on multi-use paths, on empty backroads) but the concept of cycling for transportation is quite alien here. It’s only slightly less alien than swimming for transportation.

      The annual “Bike to Work Week” is one attempt to change the culture, but most people still view cycle commuters as doing something heroic, risky, and odd.

      While there are certainly some engineering fixes, many of them quite simple and cheap, that would improve the cycling environment, the problem is that we’ve been sold the idea that only bikeways can make non-recreational cycling possible for most people.

      That idea gets in the way of changing the culture. That idea marginalizes those cyclists who already ride happily and successfully in today’s environment. That’s what the controversy is about.

      • JohnB
        JohnB says:

        Just the idea of “Bike to Work Week” underscores how foreign the concept of bicycle transportation is for the other 51 weeks of the year. We have to have a special week just to get people to consider it.

    • Mighk
      Mighk says:


      Here’s the crux for me. If a perfectly-designed Dutch cycle track was plopped down onto one of our arterials or collectors tonight, there is no way I would let any 8-year-old, or child of any age under my care, to ride in it unescorted. This is because I do not trust motorists to scan their blind spots or to not block the path. Every driveway crossing will be a conflict zone. I know from experience and training that children are more likely to be distracted than adults, and that the scanning efforts needed for riding on a sidepath are more complex than for cycling on a roadway.

      It’s naive to believe it would work to put a Dutch cycle track in an American city, and even more naive to believe American cities will do them right. Cyclist needs will always be compromised away for the sake of motorist mobility. American traffic engineers are not going to provide separate signal phasing to accommodate less than 2% of the road users.

      St. Petersburg, FL is a perfect example. The mayor wanted a path to run into downtown along an arterial. They built it, but the devil is in the details, and politicians don’t do details; they do ribbon-cuttings. Since they would not provide separate signal phasing for cyclists (because it would cause too much motorist delay), the facility manufactures conflicts which do not exist for a lane-controlling roadway cyclist. The one-and-only time I rode in it I was right-hooked (something that hasn’t happened to me on the road for 20 years).

      This path is connected to one of the largest urban trail networks in the US (the Pinellas Trail; most of which runs in an independent right-of-way), but very few people ride on the downtown section, because cycling is still seen as a mostly recreational activity. If this path were filled to Dutch-level mode share, cyclists would be conspicuous by their numbers and motorists would be more cautious. But with the current low numbers they ignore us, and therefor they right-hook us (and other things).

      • Tim K
        Tim K says:

        Basically the position you are espousing in this essay is called “vehicular cycling.” ( The idea that all bicyclists should act at all times as vehicles. John Forester ( and his adherents preached this same idea for many years, decades in fact and saw no results. Cycling did not increase, regular Joe’s did not feel safe enough to get in the mix and they demonstrated an unwillingness to learn how. The seventies and eights saw a continuous decline in cycling despite the “vehicular” movement, which never got any mainstream support.

        Your use of segregationists is a weak label you place on people you don’t agree with, but leaving the safety aspect aside, the numbers show that with bike lanes and other dedicated bicycling infrastructure we get more people bicycling and that’s really the point as far as I am concerned. Yes it may cost us a bit, but the benefits to the individual and the society as a whole out weight the monetary costs.

        Many European countries do use separated bicycling facilitates and you can see them each and every day filled with bicyclists. It’s hard to find a road in the US that is filled with cyclists anywhere! With it’s proven track record of failure “vehicular cycling” should be shelved for the time being. Focus on things that will get more people on bikes more often, period. This has been proven to improve safety more than any training program you can dream up. After we have them actually riding, then you can start working on getting them to take classes and they may actually listen. Don’t shoot the progress we have made in the foot. Let them ride how and where they feel safe, one day they may decide you were right, but they won’t do it if they stay on the couch.

        Bicycle Advocate (volunteer)

        • BikingBrian
          BikingBrian says:

          Just because an abrasive spokesperson who doesn’t work well with others was not successful at increasing mode share doesn’t make promoting cycling by enabling people to use the existing infrastructure a bad idea.

          Increasing mode share by making cyclists “feel” safe when putting them in more danger is highly unethical. Study after study has demonstrated that cycletracks have a higher crash rate than using the road, even in Europe. Europe may indeed have a lower cyclist crash rate, but that goes back to other factors such as the cultural differences and not the facilities.

          I’d rather not spend my valuable time fighting facilities advocates, so long as I can legally choose the road. But if a politician sees a cycletrack and decides there should be a law requiring cyclists to use it, will the facilities advocates be there to defend my right to use the road?

          • Tim K
            Tim K says:

            I would. What about the politician that see bicyclists as a nuisance and dangerous on the road? Or the ones that want to use the arguments in this post to point out that there is no need for ANY infrastructure? Will you be there to stand up for that as well? I think that education is a fine tool but I also think building infrastructure is a great tool. You don’t hear “mainstream” bicycling advocates saying that education is not important. The point should be to find balance and not beat down what works for someone else.

            By the way the data that you mention about safety is highly suspect from what I have been able to read. You go to any of the country or cities with extensive cycle tracks and try to tell them that when designed properly they are more dangerous than riding with traffic and you will get laughed out of the country.

          • NE2
            NE2 says:

            I don’t think anyone here is opposed to well-designed trails (except perhaps for monetary reasons), just the bad ones. Keep erecting those strawmen.

          • Mighk
            Mighk says:


            Did you read the entire essay, or just post knee-jerk reactions after skimming it? I clearly stated that I (and most, if not all, readers of this blog would agree) support trails in independent rights-of-way. I also like bike boulevards, well-designed bike routes, and short paths that improve connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians. Because none of those things violate the principles of vehicular traffic.

            As for mainstream bicycle advocates coming to the defense of roadway cyclists’ rights, the League ignored the legal plight of cyclists in two different states who were legally using the roadway on roads with paved shoulders (WITHOUT bikeways). Andy Clarke also expressed support for a bill that would have made bike lane use mandatory in Washington state.

            I’ve been a transportation cyclist for 40 years, and a cycling educator and bicycle transportation planning professional for 17 years. The key thing I’ve learned in all those years is who and what to TRUST. I trust the vast majority of motorists, I trust the rules of the road, and I trust the ability of the average person to learn how to bike safely in mixed traffic.

            The bikeway advocates put the bulk of their trust in paint and barriers.

    • Mighk
      Mighk says:

      And Harry, you DID receive cycling training, just not formalized. Obviously I can’t speak to the exact nature of that “training,” but I think I can assume is was reasonably effective.

      But a child who receives such informal training here in the U.S. will learn that cycling against traffic on the road is OK, that stop signs and traffic signals don’t apply to cyclists, that lights at night are optional, and a number of other dangerous notions.

      • fred_dot_u
        fred_dot_u says:

        Mighk, when I read Harry’s comment about not receiving training, my thoughts matched your post. Some training is done via methods not as structured as classes, but can be considered training, nonetheless.

        Cyclists in the USA will not be properly trained (in safe road cycling) in general until or unless enough numbers of already properly trained cyclist use peer pressure to force them to adapt to safe practices. Simple demonstration of good practices also tend to train others, in my opinion.

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      Harry, while you may not have taken or received formal training as a cyclist, you did receive informal training, just as most of us have at some level gotten informal training on how to ride a bike. That the lessons were part of normal interaction with your parents or other family members or society at large does not mean you didn’t learn from it.

      Because cycling is “normal” in the Dutch culture, formal training is less necessary than in our culture where it is perceived by too many as aberrant behavior.

      I agree with your points about infighting between advocates. I am all in favor of well-designed cycle paths, for many reasons. Bad cyclepaths are abhorrent wastes of money, though, as I suspect you would agree.

  7. Brad
    Brad says:

    Ever notice how decolonizing could be read as de-colon-izing, which, in the context of “decolonizing the mind,” seems strangely apt. I’m just sayin’.

  8. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Thank you, Mighk, for such an interesting set of ideas. Unfortunately, wherever they have been tried, they have a fairly consistent track record of failure.

    A good example of this is in the UK, where these ideas have been strongly pushed by organizations such as CTC, and are embedded in official government policy in the form of the notorious “Heirarchy of Provision.”

    Result? Cycling mode share went from almost 40% to less than 2%. Seems like failure to me.

    Looking at various places around the world, it is possible to draw two conclusions:

    1. Vehicular cycling has a consistent track record of failure.

    2. Every example of success (without exception), has been facilitated by supportive infrastructure.

    Here is the list of examples of success, with their bicycle mode share. Please note that I’ve excluded Chinese cities, because I don’t trust the government data available. However, as a witness, I can testify that cycle mode share in major cities like Bejing is quite high – and has supportive infrastructure.

    Copenhagen – 55% [37% metropolitan region]
    Gronningen, Netherlands – 55%
    Greifswald, Germany – 44%
    Lund, Sweden – 43%
    Assen, Netherlands – 40%
    Amsterdam, Netherlands – 40%
    Münster, Germany – 40%
    Utrecht, Netherlands – 33%
    Västerås, Sweden – 33%
    Ferrara, Italy – 30%
    Malmö, Sweden – 30%
    Linköping, Sweden – 30%
    Odense, Denmark – 25%
    Basel, Switzerland – 25%
    Osaka, Japan – 25%
    Bremen, Germany – 23%
    Bologna, Italy – 20%
    Oulu, Finland – 20%
    Munich, Germany – 20%
    Florence, Italy – 20%
    Rotterdam, Netherlands – 20-25%
    Berne, Switzerland – 20%
    Tübingen, Gemany – 20%
    Aarhus, Denmark – 20%
    Tokyo, Japan – 20%
    Salzburg, Austria – 19%
    Pardubice, Czech Republic – 18%
    York, UK – 18%
    Dresden, Germany – 17%
    Ghent, Belgium – 15%
    Parma, Italy – 15%
    Bern, Switzerland – 15%
    Davis, USA – 15%
    Cambridge, UK – 15%
    Graz, Austria – 14%
    Berlin, Germany – 13%
    Strasbourg, France – 12%
    Turku, Finland – 11%
    Stockholm, Sweden – 10%
    Bordeaux, France – 10%
    Avignon, France – 10%

      • Tim K
        Tim K says:

        Unless were are going to be elitist and have no interest is seeing cycling growing and making our communities better places to live, mode share matters. In fact the “elitist” label has been often attached, rightly or wrongly, to vehicular cycling proponents. Even though you and I will ride any damn place we want, most people never will.

        • Keri
          Keri says:

          Elitist is making the assumption that people don’t want to, or can’t, learn without giving them all the facts and allowing them to make an informed choice.

          Elitist is deciding for others that they should ride bikes and then trying to entice them to do so by pandering to their lack of knowledge and understanding of what constitutes safety for a bicyclist.

          The end does not justify the means. Creating the illusion of safety for people who don’t know where the risks are is unethical and elitist.

          Assuming that only “you and I” will ride any place we want and insisting we must build a limiting and inferior habitrail for “most people” is elitist.

          Thinking that building segregated facilities in America will significantly change our culture is delusional.

          • khal spencer
            khal spencer says:

            Mode share isn’t sky high simply because people built bicycle infrastructure. A big part of the higher mode share has to do with:
            1. Compact, flat geography
            2. Social acceptance, which is why it may work in college towns in the U.S.
            3. Deliberately keeping the price of gasoline sky high to reduce use, and building on historical political efforts to reduce fossil fuel use and keep cities small and compact.

            All of that works in tandem. Those who say we can get Euro mode shares by building bike stuff alone in the US need to re-examine their assumptions.

          • Kevin Love
            Kevin Love says:

            Dear Khal,

            Let’s look at these excuses one at a time.

            “1. Compact, flat geography”

            Switzerland is not particularly flat. Neither is Austria or Japan. Yet these countries have high cycle mode share.

            “2. Social acceptance, which is why it may work in college towns in the U.S.”

            I don’t think anyone would call New York a college town. Yet the recent improvements in cycling infrastructure have resulted in sharp increases in both safety and cycle use. See, for example,


            “3. Deliberately keeping the price of gasoline sky high”

            I have a graph of cycle mode share vs. gasoline prices. I’ll post it separately to avoid the spam robot. There isn’t much of a relationship.

            People in rich countries can afford high gasoline prices. When cycling is the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of safely getting from A to B, people will cycle. When it isn’t, they won’t.

          • Kevin Love
            Kevin Love says:

            Dear Khal,

            Here is the graph I promised.


            Not too long ago, gasoline prices in the UK were the highest in the world. Today NL slightly edges them out. But it is fair to say that throughout the post-1945 period to the present, UK gasoline prices have been the highest or almost the highest in the entire world.

            Result? From 1949 to the present, UK cycling mode share dropped from almost 40% to less than 2%.

            In short, none of these excuses hold up. It is not about terrain, it is not about college towns and it is not about gas prices.

            What is it about then? What do all those high cycle mode share areas have in common throughout Europe, Asia and North America?

            It is about making cycling the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of safely going from A to B. When that happens, people cycle.

          • Khal Spencer
            Khal Spencer says:

            Ok, let me elaborate.

            1. Cycling is not the fastest, easiest, or most convenient way to travel for most Americans. We have spent fifty years spreading out on cheap land by virtue of cheap auto costs. We don’t have a compact (and often flat) geography like much of Europe and therefore, we have not developed a compact land use pattern. So that works against us.

            2. I don’t think Copenhagen has such a huge mode share simply because it builds facilities, although that certainly helps. But what was the chicken vs. the egg? Copenhagen has always had a high share.

            There is simply a social norm in the U.S. that says that bicycles are not serious transportation. College towns are different because students are young, more fit, and poor. I don’t see New York on that list of bike cities. I do see a lot of pushback in NYC against facilities. That is unfortunate.

            3. You left off everything after cheap vs. expensive gas. To be sure, gas does play a role. When gas spiked in 2008, ridership spiked as well, not due to a spike in bike facilities but due to a spike in the cost of car operation.

            To save space, I’ll link to Gil Hanson’s page on what cities like Muenster and Bremen did to get their mode share so high. Heck, I was just in Bremen. A tram or bike ride to the airport from my hotel was three kilometers. Most American cities are not set up that way.


            As I said earlier, it takes more than high gas prices. High mode share is much more than the sum of any given set of parts. I don’t think you can retrofit a bicycling facility model into an American system unless all the other parts fall into place.

          • Khal Spencer
            Khal Spencer says:

            By the way, in areas where a bicycling infrastructure can be built and where it would provide the levels of efficiency, connectivity and convenience needed to enjoy a high mode share, by all means build it! As oil becomes more of a crisis, using transportation methods that are energy-frugal will no longer be seen as a fringe option, but as self-evident good ideas.

          • Keri
            Keri says:

            One of the things I find really frustrating is that there ARE areas where access-oriented infrastructure could be built to facilitate bicyclists of all skill levels, but there never seems to be any money or impetus to do that.

            What we get instead are unnecessary bike lanes on roads that were already easy to use that now collect debris and make previously-helpful pavement more difficult to use.

            Or bike lanes on high speed suburban arterials as part of a mindless mandate to “accommodate cyclists.” No one uses these, they simply collect debris and glass. The people who are forced to use bikes and have to use those roads ride on the sidewalk.

            Or wide sidewalks with stop signs at every driveway.

            We do have some nice trails. I use Cady Way for a lot of my trips in that direction. But those trails are not built by a culture that recognizes or values bicycles for transportation. Cady Way is a recreational trail that ACCIDENTALLY serves a transportation corridor, yet no effort has been made to sensibly connect it to the roadway network as a transportation facility. When it runs out of its own right-of-way it becomes a sidepath with several treacherous crossings.

    • NE2
      NE2 says:

      Actually I do have a question for Kevin.
      I know you’ve expressed dislike of door zone bike lanes. Let’s say Toronto installed them all over downtown and passed a law requiring cyclists to use them. Now let’s say bicycle mode share goes up, apparently as a result. What would be your take on these events?

      • Kevin Love
        Kevin Love says:

        Dear NE2 (whoever you may be)

        Your proposal violates Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, which the City of Toronto lacks the authority to change. The HTA (among other things) states that driving is a privilege and cycling a right and sets the “Strict Liability” standard that makes drivers automatically deemed liable in a crash unless they can prove otherwise.

        Needless to say, I would strongly oppose any change to those provisions of the HTA.

        I never cycle in a door zone and advise others to do the same.

        The CROW design engineering standards for a unidirectional bike lane are a minimum of 2.5 M width with a minimum of 1.5 M separation from motor vehicle traffic. See:

        Design engineering standards exist for a reason. In this case, the reason is one of public safety.

        • NE2
          NE2 says:

          Bloody hell, answer the question. Ontario changes its HTA to require using a bike lane wherever provided. After Toronto installs a bunch of door zone lanes, cycle mode share goes up. Que pasa?

          • NE2
            NE2 says:

            Actually, don’t bother with the change in the law. Just assume cycle mode share goes up after striping some door zone bike lanes. Unless your reaction would be to stripe more, you should begin to see our side.

          • Kevin Love
            Kevin Love says:

            Dear NE2 (whoever you may be)

            I did answer the question, but perhaps did so in too complex a way and provided too much information.

            To simplify, I oppose your proposed scheme.

            Even simpler one-word answer: No.

            Now I have a question for you. Who are you?

          • NE2
            NE2 says:

            What the hell is your obsession with knowing who I am? I’m back to ignoring you, and I urge others to do the same.

          • Fred Ollinger
            Fred Ollinger says:

            Every time I make up data showing that the door zone is dangerous, there is not a single VCer who contests it.

            I faked data on a big website for over 2 weeks with no one questioning it.

            When I question that the door zone is as deadly as the so called cycling safety classes out come the critics.

            This is proof of confirmation bias in the VC world.

            Thus, I won’t post data b/c microscopes will come out. If you analyze data on your own you’ll be less likely to argue with me and more likely to actually educate yourself rather than continuing to allow yourself to be brainwashed by fanatics.

            Real quick, what’s the percent of riders you see in the door zone vs. taking the lane?

            Another question, what’s the percent cyclists who die by being doored vs. the ones who are rear ended? Open any city’s stats.

            Another question, what level of respect do cyclists get after more infrastructure goes in?

            One more, do cyclists ride further out into the lane out of door zone or closer to car doors when bike lanes are put in.

            Post data for each.

            Don’t make the amateur mistake of confusing deaths with collisions. In the real world, we are much more upset about a dead or disabled family member than a skinned knee.

      • Fred Ollinger
        Fred Ollinger says:

        I don’t know, John, after all your years as an xpert (sic) in Boston what is the mode share?

        Whatever the numbers in Copenhagen, it is amazingly fun and safe to ride.

        Boston, I hear, is improving now that they realize that when engineers decide to maximize a value in a system such as safety in cycling traffic, they can actually do it.

        Imagine American engineers who are actually not as stupid as the Johns say they are. We, Americans can actually make ourselves safer with traffic engineering technology. Who would have imagined that?

  9. Bob Sutterfield
    Bob Sutterfield says:

    You say “As American cyclists our first goal must be to be seen as normal and predictable… (plenty of good stuff) …And dress like normal people; not Tour de France wannabes.” Please don’t paint me as part of the problem. I wear cycling-specific clothing because my ordinary daily travels – commuting by bicycle to my office – take me a longer distance than I am comfortable riding in “normal people” clothes. (Plainly put, cotton boxers bunch and chafe.) Yes, I could slow to bikeway speeds to avoid sweating in my office clothes, but then I wouldn’t have enough hours in my day to devote to traveling the distances I need to go in Silicon Valley’s suburban sprawl. I’m tired of being demonized by other lawful competent cyclists – the “other” in a subculture’s us/them dichotomy – just because of my choice of clothing.

    You say “Key to achieving that goal are the values of trust, cooperation, and nurturing. The vast majority of motorists treat competent, liberated cyclists in a safe and polite manner, and if we increase the number of competent, liberated cyclists, motorist behavior will only get better, since cooperation breeds more cooperation. So we must trust motorists to do the right thing.” This cooperation-in-numbers (CIN) sounds perilously close to that silly, discredited safety-in-numbers meme. The SIN believers say motorists will be trained to do the safe thing, simply by seeing more cyclists. You’re saying motorists will be trained to be more civil and cooperative, simply by seeing more competent, liberated cyclists. To both SIN and CIN I respond the individual cyclist can achieve her desired outcome by her own individual behavior, without waiting for more cyclists to show up. Yes, lawful competent integrated behavior is the way to achieve both convenience and safety, and sneaking around invisibly behind barriers is the way to achieve both restrictions and danger, and the individual cyclist can choose either outcome regardless of mode share.

    • Mighk
      Mighk says:


      I certainly appreciate the need for some to wear cycling gear. My intent was not to be absolute in that. But if we make new riders feel as though they must wear cycling gear in order to be a “good cyclist,” then we turn them off. Keri and I make a point of not wearing cycling gear when we teach our classes.

      As for safety in numbers, I believe it is viable as ONE factor in many. It CAN have a positive effect, but that doesn’t mean it WILL. Note that Jacobsen’s paper showed improvements for pedestrians as well as bicyclists. It’s a very common observation that areas with more pedestrian traffic (such as downtown areas) have relatively few (and lower severity) pedestrian crashes, while outlying suburban areas with very few pedestrians have more. I have mapped that phenomenon here in metro Orlando.

      If the cycling population is mostly incompetent, then safety in numbers doesn’t work.

      It’s more than just “safety” that’s at issue though. Biking around downtown Orlando, where bicyclists are fairly common, I get very little harassment from motorists. But as one moves out into the suburban fringe where roadway cycling is less common, the motorists get more belligerent. Rude motorists are at least as big a deterrent for novice cyclists as close calls due to cyclist or motorist error.

      • khal spencer
        khal spencer says:

        Somewhat tangential, but cycling gear if seen as an end in itself might marginalize the wearer. I wear cycling gear because my commute is long enough to sweat up my clothing, I ride hard, my commute sometimes turns into a training ride, and it is sometimes either hot or very cold. It is often impractical for me to wear my work clothing. If I am on a short ride, I’ll leave my civilian clothes on.

        To my knowledge, no one really knows why Smeed’s Law works, and Jacobsen is a bike-specific version of Smeed. We can speculate but until someone discovers why it works, it makes more sense to me to teach people how to ride their bikes safely. I’m hesitant to trust my safety to something we don’t understand. Effective cycling is quite logical and can be understood. So can buying a big-ass headlight for winter months.

        Cultural values can help promote riding more than a force fed diet of facilities and laws. When more of the neighborhood is riding a bike or knows someone who is doing so, then its “Hello Charlie, how ya doing out there” rather than watching “the other” ride by.

    • Fred Ollinger
      Fred Ollinger says:

      I’m more interesting in the normal cyclist being catered to.

      Right now motorist’s every whim is catered to.

      When we rent a car a few times a year, I am amazed at what is done for me.

      This costs billions of bucks a year, and is non-sustainable which means it won’t last forever unless we invent fusion.

      Yet people act as if this is a given.

      When I ask for a tiny concession to make my life easier, we literally are told that we are stupid for asking, and we should spend a whole lot of cash on a class or we will DIE!

      What a stupid way to promote cycling.

      If the govt is going to give me something GET OUT OF THE WAY so I can take it.

      I’m so sick and tired of being told what I need.

      I’m tired of being lied to.

      I read Effective Cycling then I started to read Forester’s sources.

      He either messed up stats or lied. I’d be generous and say he messed up.

      Find Kenneth Cross’ paper from 1977 and do the math yourself.

      Read more safety stats.

      Why are countries with the most infrastructure the safest?

      This doesn’t mean that infrastructure makes them safe, but it does prove that infrastructure does NOT put them at risk. If this is wrong, where are the dead bodies next to the cycle tracks? I just see smiling faces.

      Where are all the right hooks? They are a figment of an arm chair racer’s imagination.

      Rear ending deaths are 4 to 1 to bicycle lanes or more in every study I have seen starting in 1977 with Cross’ prediction that bike lanes would make things safer overall. His only objection was cost. This means that if we have the money, please don’t give it back. Spend it where we need it.

      Don’t put the bike lane under a microscope unless you are a lawyer or engineer trained by the city. The United States is an intelligent country, and I’m sick of people talking about their country like they are idiots.

  10. MikeOnBike
    MikeOnBike says:

    Kevin said: “It is about making cycling the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of safely going from A to B.”

    And doing so is a cultural decision, which brings us back to the point of the essay. The culture creates the system, not the other way around.

    First you need a culture that sees adult transportation cycling as normal.

    • Kevin Love
      Kevin Love says:

      Dear Mike,

      How, pray tell, do you propose to create a situation in which adult transportation cycling is seen as normal?

      I can describe how this was done in other places in the world, including here in Toronto. It was an iterative process where the culture was changed by brave leaders pushing for changes (at first small) in the system. The success of those small changes silenced a lot of the nay-sayers and led to momentum for larger changes.

      The same can be done in Orlando. One small change (low-hanging fruit) would be to put an end to the dangerous “rat-runners” of cut-through car drivers speeding dangerously fast through Orlando’s residential neighbourhoods. Semi-permeable barriers would do the trick.

      This can be positioned as a “safety for children and families” measure. I predict that the rat-runners are not going to get a lot of public support.

      This is how Jim Crow came to an end. Perhaps the largest cultural change in Florida and the US South in my lifetime. It started with small changes: one bus, one lunch counter.

      It wound up with a system of law enforcement definitely being a significant element of changing the culture of Jim Crow. In this case, the system was of prime importance in changing the culture.

      • MikeOnBike
        MikeOnBike says:

        Kevin asks: “How, pray tell, do you propose to create a situation in which adult transportation cycling is seen as normal?”

        The essay already addresses your question, starting with the paragraph that begins “As American cyclists our first goal must be to be seen as normal and predictable. The solution to that is quite simple.”

        • Kevin Love
          Kevin Love says:

          Dear Keri,

          I’ve spent a lot of time there. Has the street network changed radically in the last six months?

          As I recall it was you who was complaining about rat-runners. Have you changed your mind?

          • Keri
            Keri says:

            Clearly you don’t actually comprehend what I have written. You’ve missed the most important problem that I talk about all the time. That is lack of connectivity. Bike boulevard treatments are only possible where there is an abundance of connectivity.

            What we need more than anything here are bike connections ADDED between disconnected low volume streets. Not car access prevented.

            Our problem is that cyclists and motorists get channeled into narrow 2-lane collectors because they are the only roads that connect. And yes, the rat runners make those roads worse, but diverting cars would hinder people’s access to their homes to such a degree — not by blocks, but miles — it would be a political non-starter.

            Where we have the kind of street redundency that would support the bike blvd treatments you’re advocating, we don’t need them, we only need wayfinding. I rode all the way home from college park the other night and was not passed by a single car the entire trip (3.5 miles). I didn’t need any special infrastructure for that. And it was a very direct route.

            Perhaps if you tried actually reading and comprehending the content rather than looking for things to stimulate a compulsive posting of Hembrow links you would better understand what our issues are.

            I’ve been riding a bicycle here for over 20 years. I know the majority of the street grid by name. I know the pavement quality of the roads, where the potholes are and where the puddles are going to be when it rains. I know where the bottlenecks are. I know the traffic dynamics and motorist moods and behavior from street to street and in various parts of town. I know the secret routes. I know how easy it is to ride on roads most people regard with superstition.

            I find your dismissiveness and presumptions from afar about what my city needs arrogant and offensive.

            Don’t you have people in your own city to annoy?

          • NE2
            NE2 says:

            For the record, there is at least one such barrier in Orlando that adds miles to the direct route (as opposed to the ones just north of Colonial in College Park) – at the north end of Mercy, where it connects to Rosemont. The gate opens for fire vehicles, and there appears to be a continuous sidewalk.

          • Keri
            Keri says:

            Yeah, I used that once on a bike ride. Had to pick my way around some palmetto bushes, but I was able to get out of Rosemont onto Mercy.

          • Kevin Love
            Kevin Love says:

            I’ve certainly seen several “Desire Lines” in Orlando. Places where informal or “beaten path” connections have been created by local users.
            And would definitely agree that those and many other areas should be made into formal semi-permeable connections. In many cases, they appear to be on existing road allowances or other public land. The cost of creating such connections would be very low.

            I don’t see this as an “either/or” issue, but a “both/and” issue. Semi-permeable connections need to be created both where there is currently no connection at all and also where there is rat-running.

  11. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    My point in writing this was not to try to convince the dyed-in-the-wool paint & path crowd of the superior aspects of training over facilities. Many, if not most, of them are dense to information which contradicts their beliefs (such as the fact that cycling increased significantly in Germany before they started a program of bikeway construction*, or the fact that a doubling of the Dutch bikeway system — according to the head of the Dutch cycling program — had virtually no impact on usage**).

    Instead I wrote this to give advocates of integrated roadway cycling some values-based language to use with those who are open to either argument; particularly policy makers. Political framing expert George Lakoff has asserted that people vote their values, not their self-interest. Values and stories can penetrate when facts fail. The same can be said for some other decisions, and I believe that should work for cycling.

    *See Maddox;

    • Kevin Love
      Kevin Love says:

      Dear Mighk,

      Did you read the Dutch document to which you linked? You might not like some of his conclusions.

      I’ll start with observing that, although there is no date on the document, on page 11 the author refers to 1995 as being in the future.

      The context of your statement which occurs on page 2 is that this particular method appears to have reached the limit of its effectiveness. Which was rather a lot. But now, he wants more sticks, not carrots.

      But I’ll let the author speak for himself. Immediately before the statement you reference, he writes:

      “Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is that city cycling is not always particularly attractive, precisely because of the large numbers of short distance movements undertaken by car. Although these constitute a mere 23% of all movements shorter than 2.5 km and 38% of all movements up to 7.5 km, these are the most threatening and hazardous movements for the cyclists. And whether mobile or stationary, cars always take up the most public space.

      Cycling can only be made more attractive by means of an active policy to provide better facilities and less obstacles to cyclists.”

      Kevin’s comment: I agree.

  12. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Time wasted debating people like Kevin is time not spent figuring out how to effectively market cyclist training.

    The lack of effective marketing is one of the primary reasons cyclist training has historically failed to increase cycling. The League’s never bothered to do any market research on education. Has anybody else?

    How can we expect people to buy a product if they’re unaware of it or don’t understand it?

    • David
      David says:

      I gave up trying to compete with the popular “bicycle friendly facilities” approach myself and hired a successful professional marketing expert. I will be test marketing bicycle driving skills in a thin website this year at:


      The Myths report sets the direction. The focus is not on the features of the training but on the benefits the user will have and what kind of person they want to be.

  13. R Wharton
    R Wharton says:

    I think Kevin’s biggest problem is that he’s unaffected by the MILLIONS of $$$, be they US or Canadian, or even some Euro bux in the mix, that it costs to install this stuff, maintain it, and then go about educating the population to use it. I laughed at the bike-specific traffic lights for bike lanes that I saw in Barcelona – but man, did they have those folks committed to those lanes (not)!

    Dude, that’s the issue. I personally don’t want my taxes to go up because cyclists don’t know how to use hand signals, make themselves visible, or ride like they drive – aware. The myth that everyone driving in the Western Hemisphere is caffeined-up, texting, listening to an iPod while looking over the wrong shoulder to smack Junior for kicking the front seat is just that – a myth. It’s not some episode of ‘Blood Runs Red on the Road”. The fact of the matter is that traffic flows, and it is going to be MONUMENTALLY cheaper for DOT’s and municipalities to engage in educating cyclists about just how to ride in traffic, than it will be for them to go about installing this K rap on their streets.

    The results, I fear, will be backlash against cyclists (“We built this stuff – why isn’t it being used?” and “Hey – what’re you doing out here, when you should be over THERE”!) which will be counter-effective, will lead to more barriers-to-entry, and will leave us in no better condition.

    Finally, as a coach – I LOATHE bike lanes. Anyone posting the argument that bike lanes and pathways will lead to a more fit culture is full of themselves. Bikes are something like 92% efficient, and the speeds at which bike lanes require you to ride burn something like maybe 4kCals a minute. I also find it ironic that “Lance” is promoting bike lanes, per his friends at Trek. That’s all about selling BIKES, not CYCLING, and if the US embraces bike lanes in some weak attempt at duplicating Europe’s “Success”, well, I predict that we’ll never see another North American on the podium at any of the Grand Tours. I think it’s completely linked that Paris’ insistence on bike lanes and pathways started about the same time that their National Federation began to lose numbers, and lose or miss talent. Drugs aside, the future of cycling as an entire industry is dependent upon the success of the activity in North America. We are the UNTAPPED GOLD MINE for bikes and cycling. Let’s work together to incorporate comprehensive, responsible bike ed and law enforcement, at a fraction of a fraction of the cost of installation of your proposed ideas, and see what happens.

    We can talk again in 2020 with some real, non-ginned-up numbers and see.

  14. Brian
    Brian says:

    Like Rodney King said…can’t we all just get along? There’s no need for opposition between road training on the one hand, and building separated infrastructure on the other.

    No matter how many cycle tracks you build, they won’t serve every destination, and therefore it will ALWAYS be necessary to bike on the road.

    But in high-traffic situations where most people find it UNPLEASANT to ride a bike on the road (I’m not talking about real danger, mind you…I’m talking about subjective feelings), why not give people a system they don’t find unpleasant? Infrastructure does not need to come at the expense of on-road cycling. Actually, it feeds it — when people know that they’ve got infrastructure to avoid the nasty parts of their commute, they’re more likely to ride, and ride on the road, for the rest of their commute. You’re right that training is cheap and infrastructure is more expensive — but that’s no reason why we shouldn’t have both, especially considering that even the most expensive bike infrastructure is cheap compared to accommodations for cars.

    I just got back from a biking vacation in Austin, Texas, and I’ve seen it on the ground: at most times, the bike/ped bridge next to the Lamar Ave. bridge is crowded with both bikers (going slowly, because they prefer it that way) and walkers; a few confident vehicular cyclists can be found on the Lamar Ave. bridge itself (though, honestly, the rush-hour traffic there is so slow that you might go faster on the bike/ped bridge). My point: both bridges are options. The crowds clearly show that most people prefer the segregated bridge — but that doesn’t mean that those who prefer to go faster on the road can’t do it. And even though I teach vehicular cycling myself — and I’m comfortable on nearly any road — I LOVED the 4th Street segregated cycle track. It’s well designed and really pleasant. That stuff about expensive cycle infrastructure going unused is B.S. — when you build good stuff, people use it.

    In my opinion, Austin is showing the way ahead: build the infrastructure, and as people get used to the idea of biking as normal transportation, they’ll use the streets more and more, too. Deep in the heart of Texas, they’re becoming a lot more like the Dutch. It can happen, and it is happening now. Cycling cultures are not as immutable as you seem to think.

    Of course, I saw some nasty, narrow, door-zone bike lanes in Austin too (Barton Springs Dr., between Zilker Park and Lamar!). But even there, it was way easier to take the lane than it is in most US cities: motorists seemed to understand what I was doing and why I was avoiding the door zone. If you want that kind of respect, you need to build a culture that treats cycling with respect — and that includes not just driver training, but putting some serious money into infrastructure, as well.

    • Mighk
      Mighk says:

      Excuse me, but motorists and law enforcement will not let us use our roadway preference once “they’ve paid for” those bikeways. Either legally or illegally, somebody will make sure we “stay in our places” once the facilities are built. This is not theory. This has been happening for a couple decades already. I know people who have the injuries to show for it.

  15. Brian
    Brian says:

    PS: R Wharton, you are truly silly. Why on earth should anyone care about the future of cycling as a sport? Perhaps we should be promoting badminton? Or field hockey? Beach volleyball? This argument is about transportation, not leisure. Comments like yours can only hold us back.

    • R Wharton
      R Wharton says:

      Brian- as a cycling coach, I see things from a different perspective. As much as I’d love to promote the sport and fitness side, it really is my calling to promote getting people to actually decide that pedaling is more of an option than they may think, and that they don’t require significant infrastructure (another psychological barrier to entry) to begin the activity. The rule of 2% applies – teach 100 cyclists how to properly ride, in any location, in any direction, on current roads and in current situations, and maybe 2 of them will take up the competitive side of things. So yeah – I have an agenda.

      But here’s the funny part of your argument about Austin. They’ve spent millions and millions of dollars, and their mode-share is still pretty small. The $$ per claimed cyclist is way out of proportion. Don’t get me wrong – I live in Dallas, right next to the Katy Trail, which is used by up to 7000 people per day. But even though the money that was built to use it came from Xport dollars, the place is now basically a PARK, is run by parks and rec, and I really don’t enjoy cycling on it, nor do I endorse cyclists on it. They are vehicles, per state law, and they need to be ON THE ROAD.

      You’re just too scared to actually ride on the road and teach others how to do so safely, and for that, I am truly saddened. How can I help, “Lil Buddy!”?

      • Brian
        Brian says:

        You’re just too scared to actually ride on the road and teach others how to do so safely, and for that, I am truly saddened. How can I help, “Lil Buddy!”?

        You’re not helping yourself here.

        Actually, you’re living up to the stereotype of road cyclists as a bunch of totally macho jerks. Nice work!

        You may not enjoy riding on a separated trail, but you are clearly not the person it was made for. Go ride fast for the sake of riding fast. Nobody’s trying to stop you. But hardly anybody wants to ride fast for the sake of riding fast. Normal people want the fastest AND most comfortable way to get around town — and comfort may often trump speed. And again, comfort is subjective — and mainstream people in Austin and elsewhere have made their preference clear.

        For what it’s worth, I _do_ ride on the road every day in my own city (Greenville, NC) — we don’t have much separated infrastructure here. I own a car, but I only use it to travel outside the city. I go everywhere and on every road by bike. And I teach other people to do the same thing — TS 101. But the truth is plain to see: I’m usually the only one out there, and most people think I’m nuts. In central Austin, at any time of day or night, I was NEVER the only one out there, and random people stopped me to ask about my (rented) Electra Townie. Austin is far from perfect, but it’s on the right track for the future. The mode share there may not be what it could be (or will be), but it’s clearly way higher than all but a handful of other American cities, and it’s clearly rising. I hope you can see that accommodating normal people is in your best interest in the long run: rising mode share is good for ALL cyclists. Let’s work together, OK?

        • R Wharton
          R Wharton says:

          But see, that’s the problem – “they” think you’re nuts. THEY are the ones with the problem, and THEY are the ones who want to segregate you. You’re not helping yourself with a request that you endorse or be segregated. Austin has Bicycling Educators. Heck, the Director of Bike Ed for LAB lives in Austin. But if I were to act casual and ask the naive question about bike ed at any of the local bike shops, I’d probably get a big floating “?” over the salesfolks’ heads. They’ve been conditioned to want bike lanes, as have you. It’s sad. I really do hope that you’ll consider taking Keri’s Savvy Cycling class. I hosted her in Dallas and learned quite a bit. Just think of what an wholesale, decade-long, sustainable effort to educate as many people about proper cycling regimen, and then enforce the law for drivers on an equal basis, would do to reduce feelings of ill-will toward cyclists. The local infrastructuralists are spending way out of proportion to the percentages of the population that use them, and the bill is leading to more friction than the value.

          And I still believe that promoting casual cycling as a means of increasing fitness is a canard. You just don’t strain yourself adequately on a casual ride. It’s one of the reasons why cycling under current conditions, en masse, could improve air quality. But you don’t need segregated facilities to do it. A driver is a driver is a driver, no matter whether you’re on two, three, four or more wheels. Why share the road when it’s already shared? Change the perception through your good works, and watch what does NOT happen. I think that’s the biggest issue. Perceptions are that cycling is dangerous- I’ll argue that it’s much less so when you follow the LAB’s claimed mantra, that bicyclists fare best when they act like, and are treated as, the drivers of vehicles. Getting along is sooo much easier than hiring APBP and Toole to come storming in and blowing up your poor town’s existing infrastructure. Believe me – I’m about to live it.

  16. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    For what it’s worth, the reason why cycling is so unattractive as transport in Central Florida is mostly a matter of density. To compare Copenhagen to Orlando:

    Copenhagen itself has a population density of about 6,700 per sq. mi.
    Orlando is 2,280 per sq. mi.
    Metro Copenhagen’s density is 1,636 per sq. mi., and is about 15 miles across, both N/S and E/W
    Orange County, of which Orlando is the central city, has about 1,200 per sq. mile. and the developed area is about 30 miles E/W and about 25 miles N/S.

    So trip distances are much farther for the average Central Floridian than the average Copenhagenite. And we don’t have an urban rail transit system (a huge proportion of European bike trips and riding to transit).

    There’s no one factor that results in mode shift to biking:
    density, climate, terrain, transit, gas prices, auto parking supply and cost, general affluence (or lack of), and just plain cultural acceptance. Add bikeways and it’s just one of many factors.

    • Tom Armstrong
      Tom Armstrong says:

      Remember, Mighk, that “population density” is not always measured in terms of people per unit area. “Density” may also be hidden in or masquerading as obtuseness.

    • Fred Ollinger
      Fred Ollinger says:

      Nice excuses.

      Here’s a debunking of all the old, tired, redudant excuses:

      If you don’t like cycling anywhere but smell, loud, and dangerous traffic, just say so.

      If you don’t care about reducing motorists deaths, asthma rates, obesity, pedestrian deaths, and INCREASING options for children to get to school just say so.

      No, need to make up a bunch of excuses which have all ready been debunked in real world applications.

      I saw cycling work with my own eyes.

      I rode my bicycle, on a cycle track, to the country which was low density.

      Incidentally, the reason the country had all these cycle tracks is b/c, as Forester told google recently, that the country was poor.

      Why can’t one of the wealthiest, most powerful country do what a poor country did decades ago?

      Do you really think that the US sucks that bad?

      Or would you rather force all of us to have no options for cycling or shitty cycling options b/c you love the thrill of blocking motorists who are just trying to get home?

  17. P.M. Summer
    P.M. Summer says:

    In industrialized European-North American urban/suburban environments, which came first? Density, or high bike/ped/rail mode-share?

    The early US rail systems were private enterprise efforts taking advantage of high density work and live neighborhoods, not government subsidized transportation system. They were economically sustainable. They made money for the capitalist developers. While local governments offered incentives to encourage development (“Free land! No taxes! Build now!”), the developer expected to earn a tidy profit. We’re seeing that scenario play out again with privately developed public “toll” roads. The roads pay for themselves, and firms are standing in line to get the franchises. Seen any successful bicycle toll-paths lately?

    One of our problems with rail transit today is that it’s not economically sustainable. Rail agencies frequently scrimp on ticket collection efforts because the cost of strict enforcement outpaces the revenues generated. More than one transit agency actually lost money by collecting fares.

    Segregated bicycle facilities similarly aren’t economically sustainable, with the real costs hidden from public sight. Bike lanes are frequently cited as only costing paint application – concealing the unbalanced design costs compared to other public works projects… a lesson learned the hard way under ISTEA and following programs. The true cost (and societal benefit) of a bike lane must include the original cost of right-of-way, construction, and necessary maintenance. Suddenly, that $5,000 a mile facility becomes a $2,000,000 a mile facility. In some cases, that cost can be economically justified, but not in the vast majority.

    LAB even went so far recently as to claim the inefficiency of bike facility projects was good, because more consultants and planners were employed per dollar spent than on any other public works projects. They might as well have painted a bulls-eye on all attempts to get funding for deserving bike/ped projects.

    The source of funding is a real issue as well. Should Park & Recreation funds be spent for highways? Most politicians would say no. Should Transportation dollars be spent for facilities that are primarily recreational in usage? Few politicians would say yes, especially in our economically bankrupt times.

    Point-specific improvements can make a big impact in accessibility, but broad brush applications end up in stunningly low use rates that are no longer economically feasible. The political feasibility may also be unsustainable.

    Mighk has presented and discussed a way forward that fits the American landscape in all environments. His opponents present petri dish examples in response, oversimplifying the character of American towns and cities in such a way as to do irreparable harm to bicyclists’ right to use the public roads they have paid for.

    • NE2
      NE2 says:

      “The early US rail systems were private enterprise efforts taking advantage of high density work and live neighborhoods”
      Not quite, at least when it came to streetcar systems (which evolved into today’s buses). Often the company would extend a line to land they owned so they could subdivide and sell it (as a “streetcar suburb”). They might lose money on each trip but would gain significantly more from selling the land.

      Similarly a steam railroad building a new line would ask towns along the way for contributions. If the town refused, they might be bypassed and wither up and die.

      Passenger service was in fact rarely a money-making proposition. The only reasons most passenger trains survived as long as they did were regulation (in exchange for using eminent domain to acquire the land, you will transport passengers) and advertising themselves to shippers (who, if impressed with a luxury passenger train, would be more likely to ship freight by that road).

  18. eric
    eric says:

    I’m late to the comment stream, but I will make a post to support that Canadians haven’t all been swallowed up in segregation. There ARE groups trying to oppose unnecessary infrastructure spending and have politicians focus on safety education and reshaping road user attitudes.
    Segregationists continue to push the “tried that and it didn’t work”, not recognizing the minimal money that has ever been directed towards safety education. They also continue to find statistics to show that segregated facilities are ‘safer’ (comparing post-implementation stats on non-similar streets, and untrained cyclists within the facility against untrained integrated cyclists)
    Looking at things in a balanced way, Chicago has actually not jumped on segregation and will have pre and post implementation statistics. They also appear to have done significant work in the education and promotion areas (or at least more than most places). I have hope that their plans for any areas of segregation will be supported by the community and solve real engineering problems. I’m reserving judgement on their plan, but maybe because the City’s manager is a Canadian. 🙂

      • Mighk Wilson
        Mighk Wilson says:

        Yes, note that the mayor is already planning to build more before they’ve even been tested. And how will they be “tested?” Will all crashes be counted, or just those with police reports? Will they count cyclists? Or will they just survey the users to learn “how they feel” about it?

        Chicago ordinances require mandatory use of bikeways, so I’m sure those who’ve been promoting cycle tracks, but also saying cyclists should have the right to choose to not use them, will rush right over there and demand the City rescind that ordinance so that those cyclists who prefer to cycle freely and defensively — instead of trapped and segregated — will be able to continue to do so. (Be sure to let us know how that turns out.)

        Chicago ordinances also require bicyclists to “[exercise] due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction and at all times giving the right-of-way to other moving vehicles.”

        So even if you’re cycling in a cycle track, you’ll stand the risk of being found be at fault if you don’t yield to other traffic.

        So what has the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly known as Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) been doing all these years with it’s cozy relationship with Mayor Daley? Getting some of the most anti-cyclist ordinances in the nation rescinded, or getting cyclists segregated into mandatory, conflict-ridden paths. (Rhetorical question.)

        • Fred
          Fred says:

          Test of facilities is a typical double standard. Actually, there have been tests for cycling facilities for decades. I have not seen a similar standard for roads.

          If we were going to apply this same, absurd safety standard for roads, we’d test each and every road for safety for cyclists before allowing someone to ride on that.

          But that’s too expensive which is why we don’t do it NOT because the roads are safe for cycling.

          We don’t know how safe they are because they have never been tested this way.

          I ride, daily, a road which has as many real flaws as are VCers claim any facility has. What local “advocate” has done the favor and advocated for making the roads safe?

          None, they merely exist to extinguish all hopes of more PEACE and QUIET on my commute.

          Motorists have peace and quiet, and I do not.

          Also, I ride mainly because it’s a habit that I got from college.

        • Fred
          Fred says:

          VCers _always_ ignore contrary data. The more links to govt sites and the more requests for people to go look at the data the quicker they go away.

          I don’t want you to believe me, I want others to go and read the data that we collect and decide for themselves.

          For example, cycling savvy claims that the vast majority of rear endings occur by an overtaking motorist who is allowed to pass by the cyclist, but the Cross data shows only a 1.8% fatality rate.

          Apparently, I’m the only person who is looking at real world data to compare to these claims.

          Everyone else is merely making shit up.

  19. Fred
    Fred says:

    Mighk, I know that you will _never_ examine the data, and I am at peace with this.

    My goal was to dominate the discussion by data in response to nonsense ideas which are not substantiated by anything in the real world.

    I was shocked at so many people were deceiving their communities by making shit up based upon their own ideas only.

    I urge anyone who is not brainwashed to read the data that is provided for free online regarding crashes and facilities. Also, please travel to places where there are facilities and decide for yourself.

    If there’s an abstract notion that you can’t see like “rights to the road” ask where are these rights that you can see and touch. I only see these notions leading to noise and smog.

    My other point is that, after being given data, the same people will erase their minds and pretend that they have not seen any of the data posted.

    I know that you saw the data; if you refuse to look at it, that’s on you.

    I have found that I have easily won any discussion with a VCer. As soon as the notion of data comes up they run away.

    Haha. Last laugh.

    Thanks for playing. See you around.

    • Mighk Wilson
      Mighk Wilson says:

      Only for the sake of those others who might still be reading and wonder if Fred has a valid point…
      Fred is not the first person to misrepresent the Cross (and other bicyclist crash study) data. I’ve been studying bicycle crashes and crash data professionally for over 15 years and have had to point out the errors in arguments like Fred’s so many times I’ve lost count. And in my experience that’s usually a losing proposition. Anyone who’s interested in learning more can of course search on “Cross” and “bicycle” and “crash” and find way more info than they’d ever want.

  20. Rodney
    Rodney says:

    Using twenty words or less:

    “…A trained cyclist can travel anywhere, immediately, instead of being limited to bicycle-specific infrastructure.”…

  21. Rodney
    Rodney says:

    By training, I mean understanding the dynamics of traffic for any given situation. Many of our “cycling specific facilities” are accidental transportation corridors.

    Training applies for ALL road users, regardless of their choice of conveyance.

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