Outside Magazine isn’t usually the place we turn to for the latest perspectives on transportation reform. But an article they published online last week, The bike industry’s sharpest minds on how to make roads safer for cyclists, is worth your attention.
And I don’t say just because it features a bit of a rant by yours truly.
Reporter Jeff Foss asked 11 people for their insights on how to make roads in America nicer to cycle on. I decided to share some of my thoughts about cars and car culture. Below is my blurb, followed by a brief outline of what the other 10 folks said:
The United States has fallen way behind in cycling and traffic safety because we don’t do enough to curtail and regulate automobile use. The auto lobby is kicking our butts, and too many of us don’t seem to mind. Far too often, we settle for incremental progress—a new bike lane here, a new bike law there—when what’s needed are big, bold changes in both culture and infrastructure.
Socially, we need to start calling out dangerous driving and our addiction to cars for what it is: deviant and extreme behavior. Driving drunk, driving over the speed limit, hit-and-run, distracted driving—these behaviors have been practically normalized in our culture. The results are streets where people drive amok, and everyone not inside a motor vehicle pays the price.
To make urban cycling great again, we need to address the enemy head-on. Car abuse and overuse must be stopped. We need stronger car control laws. We need elected officials who aren’t afraid to reallocate road space to more efficient, healthy, and safe uses like cycling, mass transit, and walking.
I’ve tried to put those words into action in my daily writings and conversations. What do you think? Do you agree that we need to use a tougher tone when talking about our unhealthy relationship with cars?
Below are brief excerpts from the other responses.
Leah Flickinger, editor of Bicycling magazine:
Every one of us needs to start making noise. For starters, you should contact your elected officials… open your wallet and donate money to support bike advocacy.”
Kristin Armstrong Savola, three-time Olympic time trial gold medalist:
“I personally believe that every city should have colored, separated bike lanes, just like they do in Holland. But I am a realist, and this is just not reality here in the United States… The best path forward is progressively moving from stage to stage and taking incremental steps to make the roads safer for everyone.”
Jillian Harris, senior transportation planner for the City of San Antonio:
“There’s a lot to be said for empathy… Policymakers should ride bikes around their districts to understand what their constituents experience and what could be done to make bike networks better for everyone.”
Colin Strickland, professional road and cyclocross racer:
“Many urban areas have a wealth of underutilized rail, utility, and drainage easements that could be developed into safe and efficient cycling infrastructure… Existing easements help remove cars from the equation while keeping cyclists moving in an efficient linear direction.”
Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
“Pilot projects can help us learn about how treatments are applied, and we should solicit feedback from people walking, driving, and biking in and around new infrastructure.”
Rachel Bronson, bicycle planner for Denver County:
“… adjusting traffic signal times at several intersections and installing special equipment to accommodate people on bikes and people in cars separately. At certain intersections, we have bike traffic lights that light up at a different time than for cars… These treatments are smaller in cost and less visible to the casual observer, but they have a big impact to bicycle mobility and safety on our streets.”
Ryan Schutz, executive director of Bikes Together:
“I think we can make biking on city streets safer by requiring everyone to ride bikes to the ice cream shop at least once a week during the summer. I’m serious… This weekly ride would help people understand just how easy it is to hop on a bike and ride somewhere familiar.”
Tim Blumenthal, president of PeopleForBikes.org:
“The United States should adapt the time-tested Dutch practice of providing mandatory bike education to children—once in elementary school and once in middle school.”
Austin Horse, bike messenger, courier-style racer, Red Bull athlete:
“… We should do everything we can to get big rigs away from urban areas… In the future, I think we will see pedestrian-friendly, lightweight, highly mobile cargo delivery services provided by e-trikes and existing cargo bikes. But until then, we need laws to make these rolling tanks unwelcome in places with high concentrations of cyclists.”
Eben Weiss, editor of Bike Snob NYC, author, cycling culture critic:
“What needs to happen now is for road safety to enter the 21st century. It seems like every time I want to stream Game of Thrones on HBO GO, I’m asked to enter an activation code to prove I’m a subscriber. It’s like I’m launching a nuclear missile. Yet if I want to fire up my car—not quite a nuke but certainly a deadly weapon—I don’t have to prove a thing… Then there’s my phone. When I hop in the car, it guesses where I’m going and pings me with directions, ETA, and even traffic-avoidance advice. Yet it’s more than happy to play dumb and let me call, text, or FaceTime even if I’m doing 90 miles per hour on the interstate. Phones should disable these features when drivers are operating their cars—or at the very least remind them to slow down when they’re breaking the law.”
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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I agree with the direction of this piece, but I think, if anything, drunk driving has been denormalized, and could perhaps be a model for how to attack the other problems identified (such as dangerous driving).
well there’s already OR/SW Washington Families for Safe Streets – https://www.facebook.com/ORSafeStreets/
creating a M.A.D.D. type of response for traffic deaths will be very very difficult. The main reason is: people using our roads on bicycles or on foot (anything other than driving) are looked down upon in American culture. They are marginalized, discriminated against, openly insulted and threatened, and so on. Bicycle riders are “them” and the dominant culture is “us”. With drunk driving, the people impacted were just “regular people”.. “you and me”… so it was much easier to create a movement around that IMO.
Again, I believe we won’t make major changes without a culture shift. Which is why I keep coming back to the need to be honest and direct about the threat of car culture to our society. Not enough voices of leadership and respect are doing a good job framing the issue as one of car abuse, irresponsible driving behaviors, car culture run amok, and so on.
there’s a lot more to my thoughts on this!
But remember, the vast majority of people killed in traffic are drivers or other vehicle occupants. Driving safety affects motorists first and foremost.
You’re a big part of helping with that culture shift, Jonathan – at least locally. While I don’t agree with everything posted here (“Better” Naito, for example), I do agree with most of it – especially the need for a change in mindset. And, I do love reading your blog. Nobody else covers these stories. Keep it up!
Agreed that drunk driving is a model to be emulated with other forms of dangerous driving.
Drunk driving is absolutely not normalized. Until the 80’s, it wasn’t taken seriously and if you look at old films, you’ll see it is viewed as outright comical. Somewhere in the 80’s, social consciousness was raised and much laws were passed to strongly discourage drunk driving and the number of deaths plummeted. Yes, there are still too many but it dropped dramatically.
Rather than go after everything, getting people to take distracted driving more seriously would be a huge win. You cannot legislate reality, so the laws and the consciousness need to move together.
Better driving is the single best thing that could happen to cycling — it’s way more important than infrastructure because it affects everyone everywhere.
In some social circles, drunk driving has indeed been de-normalized. However, it is most certainly normalized in huge swaths of both Oregon and the US at large. I suggest you get out amongst the folks who voted for the current occupant of the White House and you will find that their disdain for American culture and laws, at least as most of us understand them, extends to feeling perfectly entitled to go out drinking and to then drive home (at least as far as they make it). Also, far too many of our post-Millennial youngsters are now in the habit of driving drunk.
Take a look at your local police blotter. If it looks anything like mine, there will be a long list of DUII arrests, mostly after the crashes. MADD has mostly lost its mojo, which is a deadly shame.
Whatever the social stigma against drunk driving, it happens in the US more often than in any other country in the world — save for South Africa and Canada. And the percentage of traffic deaths in which alcohol was involved is also extremely high in the US (Canada and Spain are the only countries with similar numbers). US also has extremely high traffic deaths per population generally, with or without alcohol. Shaming campaigns have certainly done some good, but the real answer is giving people affordable, convenient alternatives for getting home from the bar.
Agreed. The limit for what is considered drunk has gotten much more conservative.
So you see this as cause for concern?
I like Bike Snob’s idea. I have to believe there are “driver freedom” groups like the NMA and the auto makers themselves who would shut it down with huge piles of money though.
It’s exactly what I’ve talked about with chipped driver licenses. You’re absolutely right it would be shut down, though – we can’t even get automated speed/red light enforcement to work.
Money grab! Infringing on freedom! Too many tickets for white people!
Yeah, that’s the NMA – National Motorists Association.
Many bike trails back east follow the right of way of major power line corridors – the trail connecting Philadelphia with Valley Forge comes to mind (several YouTube videos worth looking up). The LA River Trail in Los Angeles does, too, running right under power poles because of the narrow corridor between the I-605 freeway and the river itself, which also gives access to Griffith Park, the city’s largest such facility.
In San Antonio and other Texas cities, truck traffic, especially hazardous cargo, is routed onto the beltway and never comes downtown. And the turnpikes in NJ have separate lanes for trucks/buses and cars respectively in each direction, with limited exits on the inside lanes and access to all exits on the outside set of lanes.
Encouraging prominently signed bike lanes and paths is a must. So is encouraging car traffic to park outside the downtown core (preferably suburban P&R lots) and use transit to come downtown. It’ll be interesting to see if the current MAX reconstruction projects now going on will prompt folks to do that more. This weekend, the Thorns play at home and the Cinco de Mayo fair takes over Waterfront Park. Organizers of both events are calling for people to use transit to attend the events, which should draw large crowds if the weather holds.
The proposed ped/bike loop around downtown, if made reality, would also discourage car use downtown. A system of trails radiating out from it would make sense. We need to find ways to fund it and build it.
“Make urban cycling great again”? Really? This was a dumb slogan in its original formulation, implying “golden age” we could return to, though that’s never been true for most people; applied to urban cycling it’s much the same. We’ve never had a mass-cycling culture in this country. What’s this “again”, again?
I took it as humor.
We sure had a lot of folks on bikes back in the early ’70s compared to now. While not perfect, that was a reasonable approximation of a golden age, particularly in some locales that put some effort into it.
In fact, isn’t 1974 still the record year for most bikes sold in America? Add in the much lower miles driven and I can see why one would hearken back to it as a reasonable mid-level target on the way to where we all want to get to.
Actually, we did – 1880s through about 1910 or thereabouts, when cycling was so dominant (and cars so rare) than roads were first paved with funding by subscription, from cyclists (early crowd funding). Ahh, those were the days – seems just like yesterday…
I was just reading Jeff Mapes’s “Pedaling Revolution,” and he quotes some history on this: With mass production, “Prices fell so much that a bike became affordable to the average person (albeit often with financing) … .” At the dawn of the 20th century, after coaster brakes came in, “Manhattan’s broad boulevards were filled with cyclists” and in Minneapolis in 1906, bicycles “made up a fifth of its downtown traffic”. Great stuff!
The telling part of this article is the disconnect between the title that includes “bike industry” and the fact that none of the major bike manufacturers or profiteers from the “industry” were included. Maybe they are not on Outside’s list, but I find their lack of involvement in policy or advocacy disturbing.
I noticed the same thing. Industry – the term – is used these days in a thousand careless ways.
The manufacturers are all going broke, like a lot of retail in the US. There is a vast over-supply of new bicycles and fewer customers. The chop-shop business doesn’t help of course, nor do all the bike share programs, including many at universities nationwide. 30 years ago the margin on bicycles was 43% (between the cost for a shop to buy a bike from a distributor and the sales price to customers). Five years ago it had dropped to 30%. Now bike shops are lucky to get 25%, as many customers buy from Walmart (cheap crap), Amazon (crap), Wiggle (not crap), & REI (the Co-Op brand is actually pretty nice, check it out.) Even sales of the Quality brands – Surly, Salsa, etc – are declining.
Perhaps there aren’t large profit margins in the manufacturing industry and Giant, Trek, Specialized etc. don’t have extra money to throw around, but have they ever taken a public stance on vision zero, vulnerable road use legislation, or improved cycling infrastructure? Could they chip in for a lobbyist? Do corporate race organizers like Ironman or the high profile pro cycling tours ever speak out in a meaningful way about road safety/ distracted driving even though the athletes that dedicate their lives to these sports are killed every year by negligent drivers? The only thing I’ve seen is an occasional picture of a CEO on a bicycle or advertisements selling bike lights or reflective gear.
Trek is the main corporate sponsor for People For Bikes, and they used to sponsor the League of American Wheelmen. Giant, like KHS & Cheng Shin, is a Taiwanese corporation – I have no idea what their politics are. Specialized has a foundation: “The Specialized Foundation uses cycling as a tool for children to achieve academic, health and social success. Through investments in primary scientific medical research and school-based cycling programs, our mission is to increase accessibility to cycling to aid youth in personal development and education.” Most other brands are owned by larger conglomerates and hedge funds, who tend to regard bicycling as a recreational pursuit, rather than as transportation. For example, Dorel is a major furniture producer that happens to own GT, Diamondback and several other brands.
I agree, any corporation that can and does sponsor a professional bike racing team ought to also have an aggressive stance on bicycle user street safety and publicly campaign as such.
Oh yeah, I forgot about Trek supporting PFB. I found this out a while back when I saw PFB retweeting Trek advertisements for bright yellow Trek clothes and bike lights, and that one of their priorities was for cyclists to wear hi viz clothing. Glad to see that their priorities have been refined and refocused. The new website is a big improvement. I see that REI has given them money as well.
More industry support just seems like a missed opportunity given the American legislative fetish for “business” and “jobs.” I would love for the bike lobby to be a real thing.
They sure do sponsor a lot of teams.
“…and everyone not inside a motor vehicle pays the price.”
Arguments can be made that those of us inside motor vehicles pay the price as well. Also, Jillian Harris nails it.
I like how you ask if we need tougher language after you used it. By my reading of the selected quotes, the language most separatist in it’s nature was yours. This will always be my grievance with those seeking true road use harmony. It is counterproductive to perpetually vilify motoring in broad strokes. You do realize it only entrenches the most ardent arguments against change, don’t you? Thus the number one reason cycling appears fanatical.
Cycling advocacy is associated with some great mottos. Sadly, actions are not up to the level of the rhetoric.
My personal favorites are “Share the Road” and “We Are Traffic.” Both of them sum up nicely who we are and how all road users should be.
The anti car thing and constant calls for separation are in direct conflict with these ideas and make empathy from those who don’t ride all but impossible. They ensure marginalization when what we need is to be normalized.
I propose a new motto, that better sums up who we are:
“Screw you, jerk head!”
Reminds me of this classic music video. Gotta say I love the song… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgCqz3l33kU
imo, both those mottos have harmed the adoption of cycling for transportation and i’m glad to see that they are falling out use.
* “share the road” is often interpreted as get out of my way by people in automobiles.
* “we are traffic” is often used to demean those who are not willing or able to ride amidst heavy car/truck.
Framing issues effecting conditions for biking, using war metaphors: not good. Approaching problem resolution by designating someone as an enemy, and proposing to go to war. I’ve had enough of wars, and the world has too many of them going on right now.
Framed in a context of building constructive means to counter DUI and otherwise bad driving…and bad road use by the full range of road users whatever their mode of travel…I’m more than willing to encourage efforts towards better, safer road conditions for everyone having need to use roads.
A way to better conditions for biking, by the use of more effective means of reducing bad and DUI driving , probably stands the best chance of success if the effort finds commonality from road users representing the full range of travel modes.
Every good, responsible road user, whether they’re driving a compact sedan, a box truck, a sixteen wheeler, or riding a motorcycle, a scooter, a racing bicycle, a cruiser or a bike share bike, is in danger from generally bad, and DUI road use.
Though I don’t know if it’s written down somewhere as such…as a good, responsible road user in a civilized society that prides itself on having a fair degree of law and order, I think I have some right to expect that the roads be safe for me to travel where I need to go. Most other road users I see on the road, by their manner of road use, seem to feel the same way I do: that roads should be safe for them to use. A relative few people using the road, seem to do so as though it’s the wild, wild west where anything goes and is alright if they can get away with it. Definitely, I’d like to see the hammer be brought down on them, much more than it has been. Society should start there first, as a step towards better and safer roads and streets for everyone to use.
Thanks. I noticed that also.
I liked what you wrote, Jonathan. Great stuff. The rest of the excerpts left me cold, with the exception of Eben Weiss’ bit, but your bit stood out. We’ve got your back!
“It is counterproductive to perpetually vilify motoring in broad strokes.”
Um. What about smokers or racists or slavery defenders. I’m sure members of those groups also felt as you do. But fortunately smart people vilified them anyway. We’ve made inroads on all of them, though we’re struggling with the racists….
“You do realize it only entrenches the most ardent arguments against change, don’t you? Thus the number one reason cycling appears fanatical.”
Are we really concerned with those who ‘think cycling is fanatical’ – whatever that means? I’m not. I don’t think the middle thinks that, and letting ourselves be hamstrung for fear of offending the fringe you’ve got in mind seems like a sure way to achieve nothing at all.
Uh…. maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think you can compare driving to slavery. I mean, they just seem to be on different planes.
I figured I’d get pushback. I wasn’t suggesting a full equivalence, just that some ideas that we now think of as problematic were once considered perfectly normal (owning black people, smoking everywhere, mistreating minorities because they look different) were resisted and attitudes changed.
To suggest that driving is so much a part of our society that it cannot usefully be criticized is to me absurd and problematic.
Who says it can’t be criticized? I just think a measure of perspective is in order.
Seeing that I’m a big boy with thick skin, I’ll take your gentlemanly slap by referring to my lack of intelligence, if you’ll be willing to not bring race or skin color of slaves to the table. Might behoove you to consider the world condition of modern slavery outside our borders. That said, I’m no advocate for slavery just so we understand one another .
Well, the Model T’s were all black…
“I don’t think the middle thinks that, and letting ourselves be hamstrung for fear of offending the fringe you’ve got in mind seems like a sure way to achieve nothing at all.”
I think his point is that it doesn’t take very much to push the “middle” over to the anti-bike side. It could be as easy as banging on a hood, or flipping off a car who doesn’t realize they did anything wrong (or didn’t actually do anything wrong).
The people we need to be most concerned about are the ones who can go either way. Pushing these ones over the edge sets everyone back. Everyone we interact with influences others, even if we don’t see them.
On an aside note, I occasionally find myself in the vicinity of cyclists flipping off cars. In every case where I had a chance to see the entire encounter, I have yet to see a situation where it was justified. Rather, it was just road rage from a bike.
BTW, I have yet to see a motorist flip off a bike. I’m sure it’s happened, but never to me or anyone I’ve witnessed.
“Pushing these ones over the edge sets everyone back.”
Motorists don’t need to flip off people on bikes. They can just intimidate or hit them instead.
No kidding. The idea that people in cars are somehow morally superior to people on bikes is absurd to the point of fantasy.
…and vice versa.
The second you start a car, you’ve already lost moral superiority to a bike.
That’s why I use Lyft: I can completely avoid starting a car.
Only immature raging motorists flip off each other. Changing mode of transport doesn’t change the dynamic. The bikes I saw do it had no case. I know because I was there.
A certain percentage of the population are felons, mentally ill, chemically altered, etc. Am I supposed to be surprised that you identified a few cases of road rage in a metro area of over 2 million people?
And we need to lose the civil rights comparisons. This is insulting to those who’ve suffered injustices that are orders of magnitude more seriousl.
killing or seriously injuring a person walking or rolling is most definitely a violation of their civil rights. it’s also no coincidence that the vulnerable road users being injured and/or killed tend to be less wealthy than the average portlander.
I don’t know whether I’ve ever been flipped off by a motorist, I’m watching for other things in any situation where that would be likely. I have been yelled at a few times, mostly for taking the lane—while going at or above the speed limit—or otherwise being where I “don’t belong”, such as the time a lady honked at me and stopped to chew me out on the zoo overpass because she saw I was heading onto 26. Her big threat was that she was going to call the cops if I headed down to the freeway. I told her it was legal and that she was holding people up by stopping to yell at me, at which she floored it to get to the end of the line at the ramp metering signal.
I disagree with you. I don’t take using a harsher tone lightly and I understand your concerns… But my feeling is that car culture has run so amok in this country that to not call it what it is — even if that means hurting some feelings — is like that fable about the emperor having no clothes. I try to have a more direct tone without making it personal because I feel we need to be shaken out of our stupor that what’s going on is somehow “ok” or acceptable. It’s not.
Looked at another way… many people suffer every day because of driving abuse and car culture… This suffering is both physical and mental, hidden and plainly seen. So I don’t really care if my tone offends the people causing that suffering.
The problem with the harsher tone isn’t in the content — it’s the impact of that message.
When people feel attacked, they go into fight or flight mode and reason turns off. Since car culture is dominant, they go into fight mode resulting in a battle we’re guaranteed to lose.
If the goal is change, focus needs to be on progress and that requires car lovers actually hear our message. That won’t happen while our basic approach is to tell them they suck and change their ways. Rather, we need to identify areas of commonality so they feel the empathy mentioned in the article. Anyone who thinks there is no commonality isn’t looking hard enough — and they’re setting themselves up for fail.
How often has anyone here changed their behavior or make life easier for those who present demands in the form of an insult?
The purpose of a message needs to be to effect change in the receiver, not just make the sender feel good. It takes a lot more guts, work, and patience to bring incremental changes that actually lead somewhere than to nobly sacrifice oneself on an altar of principles.
I hear you Kyle and I think we agree on this stuff. I think we can have more than one approach to making progress. I simply feel like a stronger tone is necessary. I also don’t think a stronger, more direct tone always has to = an insult. I’m not saying everyone who drives sucks or that all driving is bad or that cars are evil. I’m saying that enough is enough… and the people who drive like idiots and the policies that perpetuate our car-centric culture are absurd and unacceptable. I think people need to hear that.
And FWIW I abhor incrementalism. Not now. Not while rates of injury and death are going up for vulnerable users. Not while the planet’s health is in crisis. Not while our transportation policies and culture of our streets is a contributor to the divisive partisanship and deterioration of civic decency that is pulling at the fabric of American democracy.
On the incrementalism — I was thinking more in terms of shifting attitudes than physical changes. Major infrastructure adjustments that remove car capacity in favor of active/transit capacity require enough people to support (or at least not resist) such measures.
The divisiveness is pervasive and toxic. I think it’s particularly bad for cyclists because we’re in the weaker position so we lose. I also think it gets us marginalized which is a major reason for why I’m a proponent of riding everywhere
The message itself should never be watered down and being assertive is especially important if you’re in a position of weakness. But the best way to express the message really depends on the audience and context. In the case at hand, it’s fine. If it’s something that was expected to be on the TV news or oregonlive, I would have done it differently.
yes! context is everything. thanks Kyle.
“… car lovers…” banerjee
Even use of those word puts common problems associated road use, in a warped context. I would say that most people on the road, aren’t driving because they love driving or riding in cars and hate riding or having to contend with bikes on the road, but because driving or riding in motor vehicles for travel is the reality they’re obliged to use for travel, to meet their daily travel needs.
Advocacy for bikes doesn’t stand a chance of making a lot of headway in terms of more people becoming interested in riding rather than driving, etc, or making broad improvements for biking, such as network cycle tracks, where so called bike advocates just use their public to grind an axe of animosity against everyone that drives or rides in a motor vehicle.
But people DO love cars. You’re the one suggesting that it’s bad for them to love cars.
To be perfectly honest, I love nice machinery — including cars. I even compliment drivers on their rides sometimes. This seems to surprise them every time (especially since I can work on them and hold my end of a conversation with gearheads), but it goes over well.
The goal shouldn’t be to get people to feel differently about their cars — that can only backfire. Rather it should be to make the roads safer and better for everyone.
Of course some people love cars, and I’m not saying it’s bad for them to enjoy cars and other motor vehicles. What I’m saying, is that their primary reason for using motor vehicles for travel, isn’t that they love cars, but that this mode of transportation for travel is the reality they’re obliged by circumstance, most likely beyond their control…to accept. They’re on ‘I have to be there’ travel trips, rather than ‘I love cars’ travel trips.
When someone is stuck out on the freeway every day during commute hours, it doesn’t much matter whether they’re inside a classic camaro, corvette, porsche, bmw, or a little ford focus. They’re all traveling the same speed. They have to be there, so they are. An ‘I love cars’ driving trip, is when you get a day off and can go to the coast in your classic ride, or go to an enthusiasts car meet. That can be fun, doesn’t even contribute much to road congestion. The lovers of cars are not the source of traffic congestion and poor conditions for biking that exist. Road problems for biking, arise from the bigger organism, the gestalt if you will, of modern travel concepts as a whole.
To be perfectly honest, I feel sorry for all the drivers when I’m commuting since I know my trip is way faster and more fun than theirs. Frankly, most of them handle it better than I would.
I think you’ve brought up a key element here about our emotional attachment to the status quo. I would agree that most peoples’ prime motivation for always using a car to go everywhere is not because they “love” their cars, but because they love convenience, and have developed a habit of always jumping into the car without even contemplating alternatives. We’ve also bent over backwards to make driving a car the most convenient way to get everywhere—even with traffic and parking hassles—so alternatives don’t really look that attractive anyway. Saying that people are “obliged” to drive also requires further examination. It’s a little like saying I’m “obliged” to fly because I take so many vacations. I could just not go on vacation so much, or maybe go by train instead. I know we’ve all become used to certain conveniences, and we’ve tended to take on as many voluntary “obligations” as those conveniences allow, but really, we could opt out of some of them for the sake of contracting schedules or geographic territory we’re “obliged” to cover. Even for work, I’d bet some of the meetings people are “obliged” to attend could be done via video conference.
Further, “convenient” is often translated to mean “requiring the least amount of effort”. Many—if not most—folks shy away from effort/exertion if given an alternative, especially if they are led to believe that the alternative keeps all else equal. As an example, let’s say I prefer loafers to lace-up shoes because I don’t like to bend over and don’t like to tie things. No big deal; using one kind of shoe is no more harmful than using another. This is how we tend to view driving vs. active transportation: one shoe vs. another. But what if someone told me that—even though I can’t really see it—every time I put on my loafers instead of lace-ups, a puppy was kicked and a child went without a meal? Oh, and it took 5 minutes off my own life and gave somebody the flu? Would I still view that choice in the same way? Would I still “love loafers”, or would I start to wonder whether my convenience in not having to tie my shoes was really worth it? Would I consider the combined effects of everybody who wore loafers (including me), or rationalize that the impact of my loafer use was pretty small, and if enough “other people” switched to lace-ups, then everything would be fine?
As it stands, when people think about transportation or street “reform”, they become afraid, because all they are aware of is that their convenience might be reduced, and they don’t realize that fewer puppies will get kicked and one more child will get a meal and someone will be spared the flu and it will add 5 minutes a shot onto their own lives. Until we recognize the true cost of car convenience, and make alternatives as respectable and convenient as driving, most people will continue to “love cars”, simply because they see car travel as the most convenient way to get places, and don’t realize how destructive it truly is.
Well written, El Biciclero – – it’s unlikely any progress toward positive change can be made until people stop thinking of driving as a choice that harms nobody. There are a lot of very good people out there who don’t want to cause harm.
I feel like you’re not giving most people enough credit here. I know plenty of coworkers that are just occasional bikers (at best). Many of them still choose to drive to work even though they have biked to work in the past. They weighed both sides and decided that driving was more preferable for them. In many cases this isn’t an issue of “well they just haven’t tried it”.
Expanding a little more on what I’ve already written…I feel the vast majority of people on the roads today, aren’t driving and riding in motor vehicles simply because they love cars and the convenience of travel and transport that cars and other motor vehicles offer, but more importantly, because cars and motor vehicles are essential to meeting their daily travel needs.
I think you’re right – most people choose driving because they feel like it’s the only reasonable option, but I also think that’s based on the notion that it’s reasonable to expect a very luxurious level of autonomy and convenience. If the entire financial, environmental and social cost of that autonomy and convenience fell directly on people who choose to drive, all of a sudden, you’d see a lot of people getting much more creative about how they get from point A to point B. Like El Biciclero says, there’s a lot of decision-making that goes into putting a person in a position where they feel like they don’t have a choice (see his vacations/flying analogy). People, especially in the luxury wonderworld of America, are seldom as helpless or optionless as they think they are.
“… If the entire financial, environmental and social cost of that autonomy and convenience fell directly on people who choose to drive, all of a sudden, you’d see a lot of people getting much more creative about how they get from point A to point B. …” k taylor
On an individual level effecting relatively small numbers of people, altering by increasing, the economic burden that driving represents to them, may be somewhat practical and constructive. Some people definitely would devise other ways to meet their daily travel needs. Many other people simply wouldn’t be able to do it.
Applied to a much larger group of people, which the roughly 85 percent of people using the road with motor vehicles represents, increasing the burden that motor vehicle use represents, stands to have a major, negative effect on the society’s economy. The cities, counties, the state. For the economy to survive and thrive, people have to be able to get to work, to school, to the doctor, the grocery stores, and on and on.
The suffering wouldn’t last for long. If driving got too expensive for most people, all kinds of more affordable solutions would suddenly become widely available. We’re clever little monkeys. Also, I would argue that the fact that most people drive everywhere alone in their very own car alone means the public driving subsidy is way too generous. Almost everyone could at least carshare or carpool – especially with the crowdsourcing capabilities of the internet. People drive alone because they want to, not because they need to.
“…Also, I would argue that the fact that most people drive everywhere alone in their very own car alone means the public driving subsidy is way too generous. Almost everyone could at least carshare or carpool – especially with the crowdsourcing capabilities of the internet. People drive alone because they want to, not because they need to.” k taylor
It’s during commute hours when so many people driving cars alone, is a congestion contributor. There’s plenty hours in any given day, when roads aren’t close to being used to capacity, in in which single occupancy vehicle use is no big deal.
If rush hour carpooling was the prevailing norm, could today’s society get by with significantly less road infrastructure by which to handle people’s travel needs met with motor vehicles? I don’t know. One constant seems to be though, that the population continues to grow. More people, more travel needs to be met with motor vehicle use, especially with the type of community infrastructure design that continues to be today’s U.S. norm.
One thing true: it definitely can be easier to jump into the car by oneself and go, rather than having to make adjustments for the schedules of other people so they can fill the car to capacity.
All of this!!
In an anecdotal example of human behavior just yesterday, amongst the flurry of activity in front of my child’s school a typical looking Portlander astride a modern e- bike came whizzzing past in the crappy useless bike lane doing around 38 miles an hour.
This is approximately the seventh day I have seen this man ride by in such a manner without a care in the world.
His face to me, steely. His focus removed from his actions, as if in a trance. Oblivious.
In addition, he is among no less than a dozen examples of erratic and selfish illegal moves that endanger children every day on that street at 2:30 pm.
Cyclists, motorist’s ( with and without children), school bus drivers, Trimet drivers, delivery trucks, pedestrians, and even Police officers have been witnessed in dysfunctional movement surrounding this school in North Portland.
Before we are ever going to be able to have massive change involving infrastructure, it might be a good idea to implement and enforce laws in place. It shouldn’t be so hard to put patrol cars, motos, or bicycles in a school zone once a week.
While I share many of your concerns over people behaving badly while moving, I have no delusion that the infrastructural changes you dream of will ever come to fruition in our country. …although it would be awesome if it were ever to be, I just don’t see it.
I hear you, but I stick to my guns too….,
If people such keep using descriptors that parallel and equate vehicles as weapons when clearly they are not, you will continue to look non inclusive and insulated from the general non cycling public.
No argument that people operate cars haphazardly. No argument.
Please stop that E-Bike user and have a talk. At the very least get his photograph so he cannot evade justice when a child is run over at speed.
I have considered asking the crosswalk attendant to help me impede him in some fashion that is legal. It shouldn’t be difficult. He is a new addition to the normal traffic we normally see. Actually it’s been so bad, I’ve considered even asking the police for more eyes there… The kids need constant supervision. The love to dart out and some never look where they are at. Luckily….
You and the attendant need to pretend to be carrying a big sheet of glass across the street. Act like it’s really heavy and you haven’t yet figured out your team coordination, and so are having a hard time getting out of the cyclist’s path. They’ll slow down for sure — no one wants to take a chance with a big sheet of glass.
Recent Economist magazine had articles on the impact of free/cheap parking as one driving force (see what I did there?) behind WHY people drive cars – I didn’t see a lot of thinking about WHY people drive cars in the article
articles: Parkageddon and Aparkalypse in Apr 6 edition of Economist
I would love to lease the parking spot in front of my residence, at full market value, but I have no mechanism by which to do so.
I’d be happy if my CITY charged for the parking spot in front of my residence. But since they don’t, I and the other tax payers pay to provide that parking spot/storage space for free for everyone who uses it.
It’s probably cheaper for the city to maintain the spot than to convert it to a different use.
If you have an issue with cars using a public resource for free, it would be logical to extend that same sentiment to bikes. Public space is being used to store the personal property of someone.
You’ve tried this one here before. Symmetry here is cute but off base. Please name one externality that comes from bicycle use?
Does the principle of not storing private property on public land dependent on unrelated externalities?
you tell me.
Unrelated is the operative word.
If you’re offering safe bike parking, I’ll pay for it. It’s rarely on offer though.
bike parking can block sidewalk space.
The only reason either are on the sidewalk—in fact the only reason we even have sidewalks—is because of the ubiquitous auto. In places with out automobiles, people walk down the center of the street. I think you’ll have to look a little harder for an externality.
Sidewalks predated autos.
True, but I stand by my point. Plenty of places didn’t have sidewalks, didn’t restrict everyone not in a car to stay on them, before the rise of automobility. Have you seen that famous film taken from the front of street car heading down Market St in SF in 1906?
This pic from NYC shows two people crossing (at corners), and all other pedestrians on the sidewalk. Nary a car in sight.
The logic of separation of vehicles and pedestrians predates the auto, though I grant you that in the modern age the practice has spread and has been widely adopted in urban areas.
I found it interesting that none of the 11 listed advocated for slowing car traffic down, at least as priorities with the (usually) 2 paragraphs allotted to them in the article. My impression is that most of the respondents also drive, and like many drivers, prefer to go “at speed” to their destinations, jobs, meetings, etc, with or without their iphone distractions.
I also noticed that among the 11, those for separated bike lanes were themselves pictured as “recreational riders” rather than urban commuters. Bike paths and to a certain extent protected bike lanes are perfect for recreational cyclists, but I question their value for errands and other shorter urban trips. While I personally appreciate short sections of protected or separated facilities, the reality is that I often need to get to destinations that are along auto-dominated commercial streets, and a protected facility might as well be an expressway for all the good it will do to get me to my destination. I’d rather have cars so down, with 20-25 mph speed limits, frequent signals, and narrow 9′ traffic lanes, given a choice. Separated facilities often encourage the opposite behavior, as each user can more easily ignore the other, and both can ignore pedestrians all the easier.
Their credentials, association with biking magazines and organizations, suggests they do have some experience with biking on the road in traffic, but not much of what they say in the excerpts to this story, indicates a comprehension of today’s road infrastructure, relevant to its use with bikes by whatever range of people it is hoped will eventually become the great increase in numbers of people riding for travel rather than simply recreational.
I’m going to make a not so wild guess, that all the people featured in this story, are fairly strong riders that can easily pull 20mph on flat terrain. It’s doubtful to me that the hoped for future riders, will be interested in riding at a pace of much more than 7mph to 15mph tops.
On the same line of thought, that speed isn’t really compatible with motor vehicle traffic on streets with posted speed limits of 25 and 30. More streets with posted speed limits of 20, or even 15, in the neighborhoods rather than outside them, could help. Bringing down posted speed limits to those numbers on outside the neighborhood streets, doesn’t sound much to me like something that has much of a chance of happening.
Personally, not a super strong rider, but fairly strong and traffic savvy, I don’t feel the need for any bike specific road infrastructure. Not even bike lanes really, though they’re nice as a temporary refuge to let faster traffic by an so forth. While the experience has something to be desired, I can do just fine on the bike on the busiest thoroughfares. No way are the hoped for future riders, going to put up with crappy riding conditions.
Maybe someday, but for now, there just doesn’t seem to be the potential for a great well of support for the kind of bike specific road infrastructure that would be agreeable to the kinds of people I think represent all those hoped for future riders using the road for all kinds of short, and some long trips too perhaps, that they use motor vehicle for now.
Gridlock and infrastructure collapse is coming. Oppose anything to improve or repair roads, highways, freeways, bridges. And, bring on the Big One, the sooner the better. Let Mother Nature work her wonders.
Simply resisting everything just gets us crushed like a bug. A lot of people have been waiting for Armageddon for eons, so that doesn’t seem like a good game plan.
Better to encourage tolls and whatnot to pay for and maintain infrastructure — the effect will be to reduce driving.
The language you are using here in this thread suggests there is only one way to proceed, to accomplish anything, and hundreds of ways that are wrong, ineffectual. I reject this framing. Surely there are many different goals and even more valid strategies. There is no one right way to gain on these problems and no position from which to judge everyone else.
Not sure where you got that I think there is one right way. I agree there are hundreds of approaches that will lead to progress.
The only thing I think is unlikely to work is having a weak marginalized group get their way via direct conflict with a strong and overwhelmingly dominant one.
I’m an advocate of tolling, enforcement, safety measures, redesign and being civil to people too, but the horrible truth is that shaming does work. It just doesn’t work directly or instantly in most cases.
I’ve lost hundreds of pounds over the course of my life due to shaming (and regained it all, because it turns out that it’s really hard to make weight loss stick, and it turns out you can ride your bike and walk everywhere and STILL be fat). I know a lot of smokers who have quit because they felt like pariahs, and Black Lives Matter has shamed a lot of white people in productive ways. There are still plenty of racists, but at least it’s not as easy to find a big, public forum where you can vent this stuff and feel like you are the US and they are the THEM. Shaming could actually at least get us to the point where motorists can’t look all around themselves in every direction and see people who agree that fast, unimpeded motor transport should be prioritized over every other concern.
I read years ago that every movement has to have Andrea Dworkins and Malcolm Xs as well as Gloria Steinems and MLKs – someone has to be over there making people uncomfortable or the status quo will never shift away from somewhere near the comfy center.
Progress is made when people go outside their comfort zones, but they need to be ready and it needs to be done right. I see the BLM, smoking, and fat issues as very separate. BLM has a universal message which gains much of its power from how well the protesters handle provocation and abuse.
The smoking thing is demonization run amok. Smoke pot, burn wood, use a charcoal bbq, burn incense, even drive a gas guzzler, cook anything and it’s all good. But there’s something magical about tobacco that makes everyone think they’re going to die and justified for the most ridiculous behavior if they can detect the slightest amount yet people just accept absolutely choking smoke in the air as part of life.
Fat shaming is ridiculous. Overweight people need exercise more than anyone else, yet many of them won’t because they fear judgment and are ashamed to go out. I have heard this over and over when I’m trying to help people out.
Likewise, I see no reason why shaming should be used as a general tool against motorists since those who drive responsibly have nothing to be ashamed of. Rather, the emphasis needs to be on the stakes involved when riding on the road and treating all road users with respect.
Hi, Kyle – I wasn’t making a judgment call on whether it’s fair or kind or not — just saying that it does work. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t get so angry.
If all you have is moderate on one side and radical on the other, gradually, everything gets dragged further and further over to the radical side, no matter how careful the moderates are to present themselves as reasonable, empathetic beings. Look at our government. A reasonable, compromising attitude on its own doesn’t change things — the reasonable take as the alternative to a noisier, more radical vision, however, works a lot better.
Also, you need those radicals to invigorate your base and fire people’s imaginations. I am constantly amazed by the funk of fear that descends on people when I ask them if they’ve ever considered getting rid of their car – and this includes people who are young and healthy and live downtown and really, truly don’t need one. There should be millions of people outraged that they have to lay out such a huge chunk of their personal income for something that could be managed so much more cheaply in bulk, but there aren’t – and I’m pretty sure that’s at least partly because they can drive everywhere alone in a great big car and still feel like a responsible person who has nothing to be ashamed of.
So anyway – – I think there’s room for your approach and for Jonathan’s – which could hardly be characterized as mean or shaming anyway. If someone is standing on your foot, it should be okay to yelp and pull your foot away. You shouldn’t have to say ‘Would you consider phasing in the removal of some of your weight from my foot? We’re in this together – I want to consider your needs too.’
There is a time and place for everything. But most of the time, I think appealing to reason and commonalities are the way to go. The idea that everyone should be able to move safely in public spaces and no one is more important than anyone else shouldn’t be too controversial among reasonable people.
BTW, despite how I come off here, I do understand where people are coming from. Back in the day, I was not exactly a stranger to protest. I’ve been in the paper numerous times and the way my family learned I was arrested was seeing me hauled off by 3 cops on national news.
Over time, I have decided that such approaches strategically amount to drowning your opponents with your own blood and that even when you win, you lose. Game theory demonstrates the power of cooperation and martial arts teach us that a you can beat bigger and stronger opponents not by direct conflict, but by using their energy against them.
Ok – I am curious — how would you use motor culture’s strength against it? That sounds like a strategy that could work more quickly than trying to be reasonable and non-threatening. Let’s kick their ass! With their own ass!
I also think there’s a lot of middle ground between exercising caution and drowning your opponent in your own blood (yikes! – vivid image). I’d argue Jonathan taking a stronger tone in criticizing car culture falls in that middle ground. Encouraging likeminded people is half the battle – I certainly feel better when I hear someone in a prominent community position echo what I think about this craziness. Let the former BTA take the middle ground – – I’m sure they’ll find ways to get some good work done there. We need them – but we need people who will lay it all out straight just as much.
FWIW, I agree with you that flipping people off does no good – but there is also a long way to go from strong language in an article calling out the wrongheadedness of car-centric transportation and flipping someone the bird for cutting you off.
Interesting… my martial arts class was all about the drowning in blood.
But did you use your own blood or leverage other people’s?
Whatever was handy. We learned to improvise.
“‘Would you consider phasing in the removal of some of your weight from my foot? We’re in this together – I want to consider your needs too.’”
HAHAHHHHahahhaha! 🙂 🙂 That really actually sounds so Portland of now, though…
In the case at hand, it’s more about using positioning to redirect energy so you don’t have to absorb its full force. Having people use different messaging in different environments as you suggest accomplishes that effect.
For example, using cycling appeals with noncycling audiences is not going to have a positive effect. If you want to remove an auto lane (always a hard sell), saying it’s because we need to discourage cars and the cyclists will be happy will get nowhere. But safety is a universal value. Emergency vehicles need to get through, a temporary space for disabled vehicles is needed, and we need a safer way to move the growing number of cyclists and people on foot around. BTW we can use this space to get a bunch of people out of your way.
Approaches based on the notion that cyclists are some sort of oppressed group will encounter strong resistance because the vast majority of people disagree with the premise outright. It’s not like civil rights at all where people are unequal just because of how they were born. Having said that, most people can probably be convinced that people need to be able to get around safely other than by auto.
I’m not sure that would be using their strength against them though – it sounds more like diplomacy. I would say motor culture’s strengths are inertia, ability to inspire fear in its constituents and lack of imagination. I’m not sure how well any of these can be handled defensively.
I would agree that car culture is more of a public health menace than a civil rights issue, though people actually are unequal based on where they can afford to live. If you live in a really car intensive area, like outer Division, you probably don’t have a lot of money or a lot of choice in the matter. You’re more likely to be injured or killed by a car, to be living in a place next to a busy road and suffering from poor air quality, no sidewalks and all your basic needs reachable only by car. Maintaining a status quo in which people have to drive to live impoverishes everyone, but especially those who can least afford it.
All of what you say is practical – I absolutely agree someone should be doing it, but I still think someone has to take a role on the non-car side that is stronger and more positive than deflection. Otherwise, how will we ever gain any momentum and be able to move out of our defensive crouch? It’s hard to rally people under the flag of incremental change – people, for good or ill, are only galvanized by things that give them hope. For my ten cents, I think there’s more value in recruiting fellow travelers at this stage than in trying to make motorists give up a piece of the pie out of enlightened self interest. It sounds like maybe our goals are different though. I don’t see a place for personal cars in the transportation system – at least not in cities. No matter how they operate (self-driven, human-driven, etc.), they take up too much space and require huge and sometimes unpredictable sacrifices in order to operate efficiently. So I would count myself as more anti-car than pro-bike, though I am pro-bike.
Sometimes people are simply taking more than their share – I’m not sure how effective it is to try to reason them out of that.
“…I still think someone has to take a role on the non-car side that is stronger and more positive than deflection. Otherwise, how will we ever gain any momentum and be able to move out of our defensive crouch? It’s hard to rally people under the flag of incremental change – people, for good or ill, are only galvanized by things that give them hope.”
Extraordinarily well said. I think what Jonathan’s doing in speaking up and out more vigorously is key to getting to the kind of change we want to see, and I applaud him and thank him. The “defensive crouch” is not where we want to be.
I don’t know much about dworkin, but the other three you mentioned, were more than just ‘out there’. They also were smart, had good reasoning underlying their viewpoints and logic, plus a huge base of support on issues of common interest to people other than for whom the efforts were to directly benefit the most.
An interest in common to all road users and to all of society is what’s missing from complaints made by people in favor of better conditions for biking. There is a common interest to all road users in having more people on the road, biking, and in having more of the people using the road to be doing so safely (less bad and DUI driving, walking, and biking.), but bike advocates are not doing enough to bring this common interest forward.
Hi wsbob – I listed two radicals and two moderates – I agree – all brilliant people! But disagree that all of them tried to reach their goals by seeking common ground with the opposition. Radicals help build their base through opposition to the status quo and firing up their base – moderates are more likely to seek common ground and appeal to the opposition’s reason. Radicals inspire fear, anger and ridicule and moderates eventually get streets named after them. I think you really need them both in order to get anything accomplished.
If I’m forgetting something about Malcolm X’s career, I apologize – what I remember is that he was way less interested in reaching out to white people than MLK. Andrea Dworkin is not at all interested in finding common ground with the patriarchy – Gloria Steinem, while no softy, is more pragmatic.
Also, by ‘out there’ I mean where these people stand on the spectrum of left radical/moderate/right radical – it wasn’t a comment on the quality of their minds or ideas, and by invoking them, I’m not comparing the oppressive nature of car culture with white nationalism or patriarchy – – just showing examples of people within movements who are not so compromising vs. those who are. When I say we need radicals to effect change, I mean that we need people whose ideas are not popular with moderates if we want any hope of shifting the moderate position.
I hear what you’re saying about drivers not wanting to hear their choices criticized — nobody likes that — but when you have someone who feels entitled to 90% of the pie, can you really make much progress if you don’t make them feel that there’s something wrong with that? We’re not all equals in this situation, and a fair and equitable future for all road users will inevitably look like an unfair punishment from the perspective of most drivers.
I recognize, cautiously, that radicals can and have played key roles in affecting constructive social change. They continue to do so, today. Malcolm X is the more extreme counterpart to MLK, a consequence of what happens when people are pushed up against the wall and have no real option other than to fight or die. And he was smart too, not somebody going around telling people to bust up and destroy other people’s stuff, just because they can. What he advised, had a constructive end to be reached by the means.
Not always, but sometimes, positive societal change does require efforts by both moderates and radicals. I’m afraid that moderates too often, can be too passive, too willing to wait around too long for conservatives to come around and join in making tough, constructive decisions benefiting people in addition to conservatives.
I see parceling out road infrastructure to the range of travel mode, as being a practical, rather than personal consideration. Roads get parceled out primarily to motor vehicle use, because it’s that mode of travel upon which society today depends for moving people, goods, and providing services. In urban and suburban areas, the party is over, in terms of motor vehicle travel being a fun thing that people love to do. Anymore today, motor vehicle driving or riding in cars, is just a ‘gotta do it’ kind of thing. Unless in a luxury car or tour bus on trips outside of heavily populated areas, driving or riding in cars is just…old expression here…a drag.
What I’m trying to say, is that I believe the hesitance or unwillingness to commit more money to creation of better conditions for biking, isn’t so much a preference for motor vehicles and a rejection of biking and walking, but is instead a kind of dire dependence on optimizing and prioritizing road infrastructure for motor vehicle use, just to be able to try meet everyone’s daily, practical travel needs. Forget about the fun stuff, because driving hasn’t been that for a long time.
Community design that did a much better job than the standard does today, of allowing walking and biking to be truly practical, and enjoyable means by which to meet more people’s daily travel needs, might help start to change U.S. society’s utter dependence on motor vehicles. Maybe serious and smart radicals could fit in somewhere in helping to start affecting this change.
k…here’s another, more recent example, that until recently, I’ve not kept up with: U.S. rep Maxine Waters. Below, is a link to an article about her from the huffpost, and below that, a link to the bio page on her website:
She is in the system as a congresswoman, but also very assertively works for improvement to the lives of oppressed people in the U.S. . Radical? Not in the sense that some people going under the guise of being radicals, go crazy loose attacking people and destroying things they don’t like. She’s very smart, very focused on objectives, gets constructive things done, and has widespread respect across the board for being able to do that, despite plenty there being plenty of people that don’t like her and things she works to accomplish.
Until you and your farmer can’t connect, yeah. Ok.
Like in the way that people were unable to get food for the first several tens of thousands of years before the invention of the automobile? Of course.
Strawman argument, as many like to say here.
Agrarian utopias are a myth. My great grandfather was a butcher in Wyandotte county Ks., in 1860. Photos of his butcher shop are 95% wild game at that time not domestic animals. At that time Kansas City was the gateway west …full of people. He was a our first generation Irish relative to America. My grandfather grew up with earthen dirt floors until 1936. We have photos of our family life. I have vivid tales of my families struggles in poverty told to me as a child. The prairie cobb home my grandmother grew up in still stood outside Topeka in 1977. I saw her cry at its sight and memory of the horrors she endured there.My grandparents luckily came to live a middle class life by 1965. My grandpa would laugh at you wholeheartedly… I’m more than sure. Fantasy about the past is just that. Your romantic notions are a joke. IMO.
!!! Hardly must’ve seemed worth leaving Ireland, poor wretches… My mom’s side (half) came from Ireland, too, though I know nothing about that side. Just the Norwegians.
None of which has anything to do with “needing” cars and everything to do with a litany of absurd assumptions you’ve made about me personally.
I dedicate my romantic notion favorite hit to you….. http://youtu.be/QSA94K9cxn8
100 million points to you for Nina Hagen. 🙂
I think we’ve shifted from being hunter gatherers. You know, that whole Industrial Revolution thing…
That was my point.
I’ll go get the bridle and harness.
I prefer to anticipate a geopolitical spasm that results in another Arab oil embargo a la 1973. Let ISIS take out the Saudi royal family and blow up their refineries–$8/gallon gasoline would do us a hell of a lot of good.
how about getting the DMV onboard with issues almost all riders face in the streets, lack of respect and aggressive driving is always an issue. If I hand signal most drivers will not understand I’m trying to stay alive 🙁
Hand signaling technique has something to do with whether road users seeing someone on a bike hand signaling, will co-operate and help them make the road maneuver they’re requesting. On that count, readily relate to the mention by Tim Blumenthal, president of PeopleForBikes.org, about a need for bike in traffic education:
“The United States should adapt the time-tested Dutch practice of providing mandatory bike education to children—once in elementary school and once in middle school.”
…but not just for grade school and middle school kids…for high school and adults as well.
The signal displayed, needs to be very conspicuous, and if at all possible, far enough in advance of the lane change or turn, that the other road users that need to, will see the signal. Not everyone will yield to the person signaling, but many…most will. This has been my experience.
A (perhaps easier) alternative is to reduce the destructiveness of cars. I believe this is happening both with electrification and with automation.
It really is difficult to compete with mechanized point-to-point transportation.
It really is difficult to compete with mechanized point-to-point transportation.
You mean… like a bicycle?
Yes, that’s exactly what I meant.
Mechanized point to point transportation is a real need.
My 85 year old dad is on oxygen 24×7 so walking even 40 feet is a big deal. My mom takes care of him, but her body doesn’t work so great either. Active and public transit options are not physically possible and the specialized medical treatment they need is shockingly not available in the local neighborhood.
There are legit reasons for able bodied people to need point to point mechanized transport too. If we really want to make no progress, taking the position that people don’t need to get around and that all they really need to cover is short distances at slow speed strikes me as an excellent way to accomplish that.
Increasing ridership numbers benefit them too.
Public transit and bike facilities benefit everyone, including those who do not use these services directly. Once density reaches a certain point, active and public transit is necessary for mechanized point to point to work well.
Emphasis should be on encouraging active and public options for whom that makes sense (i.e. many more people than are currently using those). But we still need all kinds of transport.
Yes, I agree. How do we sell people who do not use non-car transportation that it benefits them as well? It seems that this message has not spread itself very well in our little bubble, much less outside of it.
This is one of the specific reasons I’m not a fan of the divisive posturing. Telling motorists they’re personally part of the problem, that we’re dedicated to getting them off the roads, and that we favor every conceivable punitive measure makes them expect that anything that’s good for us is bad for them.
There are ways to make even things like removing auto lanes more palatable and most things we want can even be positive for cars — I take the lane if there’s no bike lane — so a bit of paint that helps cyclists also keeps cars moving along.
But we seek battle, and those who seek it will find it every time — a bad thing if you’re in a position of weakness.
“if you’re in a position of weakness.”
Guess that would depend on where you’re standing. Being on the side of human powered transportation hardly seems like a position of weakness to me. Future proof, and all that.
Taking the lane IS seeking battle in most places.
has anyone ever argued that someone who needs a mobility assistance device/vehicle should not be allowed to use one?
where do you store all the straw you use here?
There’s a whole pile out back. Feel free to grab some if you run low.
“…A (perhaps easier) alternative …” h kitty
An easier alternative to what? Are you suggesting that waiting for the day that autonomous motor vehicle technology will hopefully make motor vehicle safer for vulerable road users to share the road with, is an easier alternative than helping people that ride bikes to understand how to display effective hand signals while riding a bike in traffic?
Effective hand signaling is not hard. Just make it obvious and allow time for drivers to adjust.
Speaking of which, why do practically all cyclists here use the left arm at right angle signal? That makes sense if you’re driving an old pickup without functioning signals. On a bike, you can just point right with your right hand — I have yet to encounter a situation where that confused anyone.
I don’t think hand signaling while riding a bike is impractically difficult, but some people definitely do think so. They worry about maintaining their balance while signaling, depending on the road surface and the grade, climb or descent. These are issues that I think most people can overcome with practice.
Too many people biking, don’t hand signal, or if they do, they don’t signal long enough in advance of the lane change, turns, etc. The law specs 100′ in advance, but that, like some other specs in laws, is basically a guideline. Bottom line: other people using the road, need to be able to see and have sufficient time to see the signal the person riding, is displaying.
I figure two or three seconds of the signal conspicuously displayed, generally does the job. Varying according to specific situation, can help though. For example: sometimes I think it can help to break up the signal display over the distance leading up to the turn. Way back, start to signal, then arm down while waiting for traffic to clear or respond, then arm up again for the signal as the point of turn gets closer. This can provide a longer period of signaling. Not everyone driving will, but there’s always someone that will see the signal thus displayed, and do their bit to help the turn to be made.
Old style right turn signal: I know someone that uses that signal. A guy in his twenties. Actually, I think both the old style, and the new style using the right arm extended straight out for right turns, have benefits, depending on the situation. The left arm/right angled, seems to be more visible some times, than the right arm extended is. I personally have been using the right arm extended, but seeing the visibility of this other guy’s use of the left arm right angled, I may start using it in some situations.
The problem I have with effective hand signaling is that after I have displayed a clear hand signal for a left turn (arm extended full length for several seconds while riding in a central lane position) a significant percentage of motor vehicle operators can be relied on to accelerate and pass. That percentage might be something like 15%, but if it’s even 1% — there’s your problem with effective signaling.
“The problem I have with effective hand signaling is that after I have displayed a clear hand signal for a left turn (arm extended full length for several seconds while riding in a central lane position) a significant percentage of motor vehicle operators can be relied on to accelerate and pass. That percentage might be something like 15%, but if it’s even 1% — there’s your problem with effective signaling.” x
…x…signaling well for turns while riding a bike, is not a problem,and it’s generally not difficult to do. Not signaling for turns, is a problem. The numbers of people driving, that are significant to me when I’m riding and signaling for a turn, are the people that acknowledge my signal, and do their part to allow me to make the indicated turn. My experience is that there are many people driving that do acknowledge my hand signals for turn, and do help me to safely complete the turn.
The idea other people commenting here have expressed, that they don’t want to offer people driving, info by way of hand signals indicating their intention to turn, doesn’t make much sense to me. People, whether traveling by bike or by motor vehicle, and that don’t signal for turns, generally gives the impression that they don’t know what they’re doing, and that they’re not competent road users.
If the road surface is rough, affecting balance of the bike, sure…most people driving would likely gather that the hand signal isn’t happening for that reason. Otherwise, it doesn’t require extraordinary skill while riding a bike, to hand signal for turns.
Right arm signals make sense for front-braking while preparing to turn.
I don’t do this.
So you’re saying you don’t see people do this constantly? Where do you ride that pointing with the right hand for right hand turns predominates? I only see a few people do this.
We may be few, but we’re better looking!
“practically all cyclists here”
Nope, my experience does not agree with this.
i rarely see people signaling at all in pdx. and given that evidence that signaling reduces risk is weak, i’m fine with this.
IMO, signaling right when riding in a bike lane invites danger.
I signal right turns by keeping both hands on the handlebars. Unless there are following cyclists who might try to pass on my right, I see no need to inform motorists I’m about to get out of their way. Plus, as you note, signaling right tends to invite following motorists who happen to want to turn as well, to overtake while they turn along with you, which easily can push you into places you don’t want to go. My rule is that if I’m planning to cross anyone’s path, I signal; otherwise, I use both hands to maintain control of my bicycle.
There’s one spot on my commute where I signal right, at the bottom of a hill where I have a 90-degree turn and I want to maintain my speed going into it. If there’s room in the main lane, I’ll go into it to prepare for the right turn, and signal my intention to turn right so that drivers don’t get aggro behind me.
“I don’t always signal right turns, but when I do, I use my right arm”
Uh… I don’t know where that post was supposed to go, but where it is is not it. So no, that’s not what I was saying.
So yeah… Signaling is good.
I’m just one person, but I’m trying really hard to start the heavy metal signal movement. Right or left, toss ’em up…\m/
Jonathan, you kick ass! Well spake! And it doesn’t come off as harsh at all, to me. Keep it up! And thanks! 🙂
Another point of view, that would also benefit everyone, is recently explored at VTPI,
Alternatives need to be available, along with restrictions to auto use, or at least higher costs for auto use:
“The old paradigm favors targeted safety programs intended to reduce specific risks. The new paradigm recognizes that all vehicle travel incurs risks, so policies that stimulate more driving tend to increase total crashes, and vehicle travel reduction strategies can increase safety. It also recognizes that it is infeasible to reduce high-risk driving without providing viable alternatives.”
Segues are the answer. Segues, as far as the eye can see!…
How clean and quiet that would be! A little eerie visually, but way preferable to cars, and really not much less convenient. I wonder why they didn’t take off? Except for tourist groups downtown and Job Bluth, I mean.
As a avid cyclist, motorcyclist and motorist, former skater and street rollerskater I have attempt to not allow the last word in this conversation be pro Segue statement. No. Absolutely not. The Segue represents a shift in the technological move to domesticate the human animal. No Segues. Ever. Period.
Oh, and I am a fan of WALKING too. Let’s not forget WALKING! If one can walk, one really needs not to ride a Segue. Yuk. Just yuk.
We must fight the domestication of the human animal! Fight!
“…I wonder why they didn’t take off? …” k taylor
Segway lacks cool factor. They look like an old fashioned push mower. Doesn’t do much for self image to be seen rolling down the sidewalk on what looks like an old push mower. Plus, they’re expensive, 3500-5000, and the range distance isn’t great. E-bikes are better on both counts.
Something I’ve read about, but rarely see being used, are something being referred to as a hoverboard. They’re like an electric skateboard, I think. Fred’s sells one. Not like the ‘back to the future’ type of hoverboard. Technology has a ways to go to reach that level.
Segways are super fun to ride.
Never rode a segway. Haven’t even seen one being ridden in Beaverton, for quite awhile. Some years back, I saw someone ride their segway right into the fred meyer store and I guess, down the isles for shopping. The person riding it, didn’t look as though they were physically unable to walk reasonably well.
I’ve heard that people can qualify for financial help in getting a segway as a mobility device. I know someone that did this, don’t have the details though.
You might try Monkey see’s alternative…
Segways were a byproduct of Dean Kaman’s attempt at creating a wheelchair that could climb stairs. Your reference sounds like the dude that I used to see frequently riding one against traffic in the bike lane when I used to commute on Murray and other Beav’ton roads (some years ago).
Dave Vernier (of Vernier Software on Millikan) had one of the earliest Segways. They came with three color-coded keys that governed the speed, but try as I might, I could never get him to fork over the red one.
Cool thing about Segways is that they never had a track record of spontaneous combustion.
On Millikan Way near the entrance to the nature park and the intersection with the Westside Trail, is where I saw someone riding a segway a few times. One of the people I knew of that had a segway, was the husband of one of the friendly checkers at winco, the grocery store. The checker had an ebike. I think the segway does still have some good things going for it.
In some ways, they’re much better means of transport than a car or an ebike; takes up less room, more maneuverable. I can see the fun factor too. They can clip along at quite a good pace…10mph, maybe more, I think. Personally, I’d rather pedal at least some, rather than just stand there on the segway’s platform. It might be just the thing though, for some people that struggle with walking. Their cost might have been one of the biggest deal breakers.
Look up SoloWheel; there’s a new breed of electric unicycles I see in use around here, mostly to get around the big office parks (Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc). There’s a coworker I see using one to make the long trek to our parking garage. Call me old fashioned, but I’ll keep using my legs until they won’t let me anymore.
You might change your mind when you see the new shoe tax.
@helloKitty…I wouldn’t know. I’d rather walk around all day in poopy underwear and nothing else.
I think you’re in the minority on that one.
I’d really rather you ride a Segway.
Are we talking about Segways, or uninterrupted transitions?
God, maybe my bad… Ha. I forgot the Segway was spelled phonetically! I might have overreacted. Funny.
I’m sorry I’m late, but Austin Horse is in no position to talk about bicycle safety.He’s featured in a documentary called “Line of Sight”, where Lucas Brunelle records himself and other bicycle messengers ( Austin included) competing in illegal bicycle races called “alley cats”. They routinely run red lights, ride against traffic, weaving at high speed around cars, and riding on sidewalks at high speeds. Bike messengers also do these things during their work hours, because their pay is based on how fast they could deliver their packages, so there’s a monetary incentive for bike messengers to routinely break traffic laws.