Copenhagenize, cult leader

I was recently lead to this page on and decided that I needed to answer it. I’m not prone to diatribes against other cyclists, but this page irked me. I doubt the author will ever see this but here it is.

Do advocates for separated bicycle facilities believe in fairies, trolls and ogres? I can’t confirm they do, but there are strong indications.They can’t be convinced by facts, since their religion depends upon believing unsupported theories that they take on faith. But since the majority believes in these myths, they have to be true, right? So the author of can lambast and ridicule vehicular cycling without fear of reprisals. The other zealots in his religion are incredulous that anyone would believe the safety and effectiveness of vehicular cycling.

He claims that vehicular cyclists don’t understand human nature, while he apparently knows little or nothing about the rules of the road. Since so many people believe the same myth he does, he can easily discount vehicular cycling by appealing to the power of mass belief in their myth. Doesn’t make it true, but it sounds convincing.

Calling them a religion is a cheap shot, but if the shoe fits …. They ignore all evidence to the contrary and ridicule people like John Forrester who wrote the college course on bicycling. But ignorance is bliss. They’ve bought the motorist superiority, cyclist inferiority propaganda. They want to build lots of infrastructure to support inferior cyclists. They believe that bike ways and separated facilities provide the best way to get “grandmothers, mothers or fathers with children” on bicycles safely. All this despite ample evidence that those facilities create a false sense of security while they actually increase danger at intersection from the right hook and left cross and driveways that cross the path. They don’t believe that bicyclists are capable of learning and obeying the rules of the road so they must be coddled and herded into inferior facilities.

These “build it they will come” bicycle advocates like to hold up Copenhagen as an example of how infrastructure has created an increase bicycle use. But they got the story backwards. According to Cycling Embassy a Danish web site: “The energy crisis of the 1970s and growing environmental awareness led to traffic switching from cars to bicycles and public transport, and to an increasing demand for improved conditions for cyclists. An example of this was the annual cyclist demonstrations in the major cities from the late 1970s. Authorities and planners became aware of the problems which cyclist faced, and bicycle traffic began to form a greater part of traffic planning.” This is what I read several places, that first came increased bicycle use for transportation, then came infrastructure. Not the other way ’round.

But the infrastructure advocates like Copenhagenize won’t be convinced by the facts. They all watched Keven Kostner in Field of Dreams, and since they can’t separate reality from fiction, they believe if you “build it they will come”. Maybe they are expecting ghost bicyclists, or maybe they just like ghost bicycles. 🙂

“Build it they will come” apparently didn’t work out so well for Sydney, Australia according to this video



But if you are a member of the religion of “Build it they will come”, no facts will dissuade you.

There’s no stopping this cult

Cult: a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

I Have no doubt that Copenhagenize is one of the leaders of the cult of segregated cycling, also known as “Build it they will come” Copenhagenize says that because Vehicular Cycling is not popular “It’s time to shelve the idea.” Better to treat all cyclists as children and segregate them from using the roads. Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.


There are very many good videos, if the author of Copenhagenize ever bothered to look, showing cyclists maneuvering in traffic safely and effectively. But a cult leader must never stray from the orthodoxy of his religion. Here are a few nice videos showing cyclists riding safely in traffic. These are part of a series of videos demonstrating how you can ride safely as one of those “shudder” Vehicular Cyclists

Here’s another nice video about the Rights and Duties of Cyclists – Bicycle Safety

And there’s a whole site devoted to teaching cyclists how to ride safely. Cycling Savvy where cyclists can learn and take classes to learn to ride competently on the road.

Here’s a good example of how you can be killed in one of these “safe” separated bike paths called Mobile Phone + Right Hook

And here’s one cyclist’s video critique of one of those “safe” separated paths in one of America’s great cycling cities of Portland Oregon

Notice how many times he has to stop to deal with driveways and cross streets. Notice his comment about the issues he has to deal with if he wants to make a turn out of the grade separated path going left to a side street.

Here’s a nice video of someone getting left hooked across a separated path.

Notice how the Vehicular Cyclist moves with traffic and isn’t bothered by the same left turning car.

Here Ana gets hit while riding in one of those “safe” bicycle paths. If she had been riding like another vehicle she would have stopped behind the yellow car and would not have been endangered by the red car turning left.

Ana gets hit from Rick Langlois on Vimeo.


All these “accidents” are predictable because the riders were not acting as a vehicle and thus endangered themselves, because they believed in the cult of “build it they will come” also known as “separated paths are safer”. John Forrester, in fact predicts all of these “accidents” in his writing. But then he’s not a member of the cult.

Some of this is tongue and cheek and should not be taken by anyone as a personal attack on anyone. However, there is much that can be learned from the videos. And I think John Forester is right when he says:

It has been remarked on some of these lists that I, Forester, have given up with respect to governmental negotiation in bicycling affairs. That is not so. but I need to make my position clear. I have concluded that the political power of the bicycle advocates is so strong that we bicycle drivers are unable to prevent most of what these bicycle advocates advocate. Where they propose items that have many traffic-operational defects we may be able to prevent such items being approved and installed. Bike boxes seem to be the current candidates for this position. However, I am not optimistic about our ability to prevent even such monstrosities as bike boxes, given the political power pushing them.

I have concluded that we bicycle drivers should concentrate our energy on revitalizing and preserving our right to operate as drivers of vehicles. I know that it sounds social to argue that those who desire incompetent and therefore dangerous bicycle transportation, on the basis that anti-motoring trumps cyclist safety and efficiency, ought to be allowed to have their way, since there is no practical way of stopping them. But that’s the world as it is. We have tried for thirty five years now to change society to a bicycle driving policy, and society not only has defeated us at every turn but has developed more ways of preventing or discouraging bicycle driving. We must devote our efforts to both preserving what we still have, and reversing the legal (I don’t bother about the social aspects) discriminations that work to prevent bicycle driving.


29 comments to Copenhagenize, cult leader

  • I would suggest you check out Cycling Savvy or Free Webinar: Empowering Women to Bicycle for Transportation for ideas about how to become a more competent bicyclists. The LAB has instructors that teach bicycling skills that will make you feel more confident on the road. You might find the article “I Am No Road Warrior” on the Cycling Savvy site inspiring.

    I feel that well educated competent cyclists can integrate with traffic anywhere they choose. Car drivers are required to get some kind of lessons and pass a test. Yet bicyclists seem to think that they learned everything they need to know about bicycling, when they were 5.

    I didn’t learn integrated cycling from reading something. I learned it from riding my bicycle. When I learned about VC, I had already taught myself the basic precepts from experience on the road. Reading about it only reenforced my already established riding style and showed me how I could improve. I really recommend everyone read Effective Cycling first, then draw your own conclusions. There is plenty of information about bicycles, like gearing, shifting and other knowledge that is useful, even if you decide not to practice VC. It is one of the most complete compendiums of bicycling knowledge I’ve ever read. You might even begin to better understand what VC is about and integrate some of it’s precepts into your every day riding. You will certainly become a more knowledgeable bicyclist.

  • You may feel that because I support VC, I want cycling to remain a niche activity, but I deny that. I’m actually ambivalent about it. If you want to learn to ride competently and safely do so. If you want to ride on segregated paths, in an incompetent manner do that. But, if you want advocate for segregated facilities and require me to use those paths only, we have a serious disagreement. In many jurisdictions, if a segregated facility exists, I must use it. This means I am no longer allowed to travel as I please where I please, while obeying the traffic laws. I have now been degraded to a lower class status. This is not acceptable to me.

  • You rode defensively so you were able to avoid the car. The driver was rude or not paying attention, or expected you to get out of his way. Your son was riding too close to cars, in the door zone. He should not be diving into the spaces between cars, but stay at least five feet from any car and hold the line going through those open spaces. I know that a young child does tend to swerve a bit more than an adult, but this is something for you to work on with him. Although you did have a near miss with a merging car, I applaud your efforts. I’ve never said that every driver is going to be courteous and attentive. But, assuming the opposite that they are all impaired, all the time, would prevent me from even driving.

    My real point is, nothing is going to change much until demand goes up. Vehicular cycling is working with what we have until demand increases to the point where we can get more political clout. I assume you are from the U.K., I’ve never been there, but I’ve read about the issues facing cyclists there. And drivers there, especially those that drive lorries and buses seem much more aggressive. But that may be a distorted viewpoint from here. The law is much more strict there when drivers do tangle with cyclists. That’s a good thing. If I were there, I would push for lowering speed limits.

    I don’t see where they’re going to build segregated facilities there, given the way the roads are. So integrating cyclists into the vehicular traffic is the only answer I see for now.

  • I believe putting infrastructure before demand is putting the cart before the horse. Holland and other countries in the EU are designed around walking and horse carts first because the cities were built before autos existed. There was much social resistance to tearing down historic buildings to make room for parking garages and infrastructure to support automobiles.

    Almost all of the US is built around automobiles. After the Second World War, the interstate highway system was build, Levittowns sprung up all across the country, while work moved into centralized downtowns. The automobile was integral to this expansion into former farm fields. There wasn’t any sense of historic preservation, nor much in the way of historic structures to stop the construction of large parking garages and widening streets. Everything in this country has been built and designed with the automobile in mind. We go to war for cheap gasoline. Americans expect to own automobiles, they drive their children to school, the drive their dogs to the dog park to walk them. Americans feel entitled and expect to own automobiles.

    Now bicycle “advocates” come along and say “let’s convert some of this automobile space into bike space”. “Let’s take some transportation moneys and put it into bicycle infrastructure”. That doesn’t play well with many people who grew up driving automobiles. There has already been a backlash, as can be seen in the fights in Congress around the idea of setting aside part of federal transportation funds and use it for alternate modes.

    All this history says to me, we need to work no the social aspects, before we start trying to “taking money away from automobiles and spend it on bicycles/toys” On the other hand Vehicular Cycling can be taught to anyone. John Forester, who some consider the prime advocate for vehicular cycling, says that any kid that can play soccer can learn effective cycling techniques. He even has a page Elementary-Level Cyclist Training Program with tested techniques for teaching.

    So to say that children cannot ride a bicycle safely on the road, ignores the facts. And cyclists get killed on cycle tracks on the Netherlands, in just the way that John Forester’s criticisms say they will. But the activists for segregated facilities don’t want to talk about that. They don’t want to admit that in 40 years they have been unable to show that their segregated facilities are safer than properly operating a bicycle on the existing infrastructure.

    This video shows building bicycling infrastructure in the Netherlands.

    I know that there is all kinds of infrastructure in the Netherlands. And I’ve looked at may of same videographer’s Youtube posts. There would have to be a massive increase in bicycle ridership, before we would be able to demand that type of infrastructure here, in the U.S. We would never let ourselves be taxed to the level that would allow that to be built here. What we’re likely to end up with is inferior infrastructure that encourages dangerous cycling habits.

    The point of all this is that what works in Europe doesn’t translate to the U.S. as well as some people would wish. We have a different culture. And in order to raise mode share, education is far more socially acceptable that spending massive funds for Dutch style bike paths. We’re lucky we get sharrows and painted lines.

    Several people have attacked the vehicular cyclists as if somehow it’s ineffective. However if all the effort that was put into lobbying for segregated facilities was used to educate cyclists in effective cycling, the outcome would have been different. But, since most people operate out of emotion instead of intellect, the segregated facilities crowd wins the day.

  • Interesting read. I live in the U.S. and have been a car-free woman rider for a good two + years. I do not consider myself a VC b/c like Charlie Roop stated, there are roads in which you can easily and stress-free, ride roads. Then there are others and our downtown as been built solely for vehicles. 98% of our streets downtown are arterial roads. They are at the least, five lanes wide and the traffic lights are patterned in a way to move cars through those streets. Cars are likely to speed up during the middle of a block so if the lights are patterned to turn green, all the way down until you can’t see any more, cars won’t go the speed limit, they’ll most likely speed. This does not entice the average woman or mother who WANTS to ride to work but is too scared b/c drivers today are predominately in a hurry. It is very intimidating to ride a 5 lane road with cars speeding at 40+ mph… to the average person. these roads are where i believe smart and safe bicycle infrastructure would be well received AND used.
    every day i am seeing more and more folks riding their bikes however, i almost feel like i see them only riding around certain areas i.e. parks, river-fronts, neighborhoods, etc. this is b/c these areas are usually dedicated as slow speed zones. i want folks to feel safe riding their bikes to work or to the library or to a restaurant and again, i feel that smart and safe bicycle infrastructure will make this happen. i’ve heard too many times,’i would never ride down 3rd street, its way too fast.’
    there are places to implement smart and safe bicycle infrastructure combo’d with education and then there aren’t.

  • AJ

    Riding in traffic is unpleasant for most people and yes, feels dangerous, and no amount of telling people how great it is will change that. The statistics show that many of the people who try riding bikes in London soon stop and return to public transport/car use. That’s the fact that people like to conveniently ignore.

    I’ve lived in Australia, the Netherlands and now in London and feel quite able to compare the different “systems”. That’s why I’m pro-segregation despite having the “ability” to ride VC-style. If you want real numbers of cyclists – Dutch style – then you simply need it. Cycling is safe either way, but one of the ways attracts people and the other pushes them away!

    I feel that many who support VC as a philosophy actually want cycling to remain the niche activity that it currently is, which is a shame.

  • I can see the arguments in favour of VC and I don’t believe them, as they are based on the assumption that not only do car drivers respect bicycles in their way, but that they actually look.

    Please look at this video of my school run, both my son and I positioned correctly “VC-style” to cross a mini roundabout.

    Observe how we both nearly get hit by a car that doesn’t even bother to look as it drives straight over the junction.

    Now explain what I got wrong from a VC perspective? Positioning? Speed? Or is there something else I could have done that would have eliminated the risk?

    You can’t cycle safely on the same roads that cars are on, because the drivers are incompetent selfish idiots. Cycle routes need to fix that. The problem that many countries and cities have is that cycle paths are designed by incompetent selfish idiot town planners who don’t understand bicycles and resent why they get criticised for putting something in that has “only a few” cyclist dismount signs, abandons you at every junction and has barriers to stop you cycling fast. They put in more traffic calming and “look out for pedestrian” signs up in a cycle path than they do for roads.

    good segregated cycle routes are possible -you just have to realise that and stop accepting the medocrity that gets dished out to us in most countries.

  • Primal Tuna

    How do you expect children to ride based on vehicular cycling alone? Do you expect them to ‘take the lane’ to ‘control traffic’? On dual carriageways? Or should they just be driven everywhere?

    I’m not interested in taking cycling advice from anyone in a country with a modal share for all trips in the single digits… sorry, that means you. If you want to see how to get lots of people cycling then you need to look to the countries with lots of people cycling. The Netherlands is really the only one that fits the bill – I’ve cycled there for years and I can tell you what I prefer.. Outside of Copenhagen there is little support for cycling in DK.

    Many of your photos show cycle paths that are too narrow or you are confusing a painted lanes with’ infrastructure’ – they are nothing of the sort.

    Don’t confuse badly designed infrastructure for cyclists (which is precisely what you see in Aus, UK, & USA) for ‘infrastructure’ and then dismiss it all as ‘rubbish’ – that’s a straw an argument. If done well there is no question that it works… The fact is that even the lanes in Sydney, while nice, are far too narrow for a bidirectional bikeway.

    Why not focus your anger towards getting the authorities to look to The Netherlands… Hint: it’s not just the infrastructure that needs a forced change.

  • My experience with overtaking cars is matched by videos that I posted showing how to safely ride on the road. Because of my visibility, overtaking vehicles will change lanes to avoid running into me. I run front and rear dynamo powered lighting day and night. I suspect if there is the an increase in rear accidents for ultra-marathon and brevets, it has more to do with bicyclist errors, due to sleep deprivation. Though I cannot prove it, I’ll bet some veered into the road. Drunk drivers are always a hazard and no matter what vehicle you are driving, they may kill you. A drunk driver killed a brevet rider on Highway 101 just a few months back. It just seems more unfair when it’s a bicyclist for some reason. I read the randonneur list. There are plenty of stories of unusual experiences in the middle of the night, I guess due in large part to sleep deprivation. Brevets are where human suffering and bicycling intersect. 🙂

    I think we should adopt lower speed limits here. Some of the safest places I’ve ridden have maximum speed limits of 45 mph on two lane highways and 25 mph on residential streets. I’m all for Sharrows and signs “Bicyclists Permitted to Use Full Lane”.

  • Discusses is not how I would describe it. More an attack piece “The first colleague, upon hearing this explanation, merely said, “Do these people hit their children, too?” “It is a small, yet vocal, group that is male-dominated, testosterone-driven and that lacks basic understanding of human nature.” “the vehicular cyclist crowd are the Pamplonans of cycling.” “They manipulate studies about the safety of infrastructure”

    That post is a hit piece. So I decided to fight fire with fire. There is ample evidence that people like the author of do their share of “manipulating”. But what do you expect for the lackeys for motor vehicle drivers, who just want to get bicyclists off the road and out of their way. 🙂

  • William Volk

    I suspect, but cannot prove, that as one gains proficiency in vehicular cycling … the possibility of an overtaking accident grows in relation to the other accidents … because your actions are preventing the typical events from occurring.

    In the ultra-marathon cycling world (brevets etc…) most of the fatalities APPEAR to be of the over-taking type.

    Worthy of study.

    Back to the main subject. Sharrows and speed limit reductions. Can we agree on that?

  • The problem with side path advocates at least here in the U.S., is the fervent “Vehicular Cyclists are Morons” and oppose all other types of cycling. There is this general tendency to vilify John Forester as if he were responsible for all the lack of cyclists on the road. Someone even posted to this thread that they believe he is responsible for the tiny 1% mode share as if the 29% less than Copenhagen was his fault. I often wonder how many of these people have actually read Effective Cycling. I doubt more than a few.

    I generally try to stay away from this argument, until someone like the twit on Copenhagenize starts demonizing and mischaracterizing what VC is about. I ride in VC style in all kinds of traffic, including some pretty heavy traffic where there is a solid line of parked cars along the side of the road. If I was a curb huger like many people I would get run over or worse, doored and then run over! Like this poor sap almost did. If he had been riding according to Vehicular Cycling principles he would never have been in the door zone. Knowing how to drive your bicycle is a way to be safe under all conditions. You needn’t lecture me about drivers attitudes. I’ve been riding a bicycle in Southern California for over thirty years. I estimate I’ve ridden over 30,000 miles, most of it on streets. Last year I rode 5,500 miles. We have some of the rudest drivers I’ve encountered anywhere, and I’ve ridden in three other states besides California. Doesn’t stop me from riding my bike anywhere I like, in a vehicular manner or on separated paths.

    But that doesn’t seem to matter much to the advocates of segregated bicycle infrastructure. They have their religion and they aren’t going to believe there is any other way. My problem has more to do with losing my right to travel wherever I like on my bicycle. Most segregated infrastructure comes with laws requiring me to use it. Quite often someone will yell out the window of their car, “get on the bike path”! That’s both good and bad. It’s good, because they saw me, drivers don’t usually run over bicyclists they see. It’s bad, because it shows the attitude of drivers toward bicyclists, that they don’t have the right to be on the road. With more bike paths this attitude gets reenforced. And segregated facilities advocates are playing right into this. If that trend continues, my right to ride where I like when I like will be taken away. In some jurisdictions I understand it has been already.

    I don’t drive somewhere to ride my bike. Like Ken Kifer I prefer to ride from my house. Why would I transport a perfectly good transportation device, in a car, so I can ride it? Just ride from home! I will take my Bike Friday on the train, to travel to another state so I can ride there. If I travel to visit relatives, I’ll carry my bicycle, so I can see the sights by bicycle. But I prefer to start riding from my own front door. I see many people with bicycles on the back of their car, on the roof, in the truck bed, carrying one transportation device in another. I used to do that sometimes too, but I found it took away from time I could ride my bike.

    Education is the best antidote to the unrealistic fear. But the advocates for segregated facilities would rather keep new bike riders ignorant and cater to their fears. Riding on the road requires no additional government expenditures. Building segregated facilities is a jobs program for the people who build the paths.

    This is my “stand your ground” to the attacks against vehicular cyclists, by all the segregated facilities activists.

  • Bicycling up is good for the environment. Properly designed bike paths next to freeways are good. Bike paths for the purpose of building bike paths, not so good. The video of Portland tells why separated paths next to thoroughfares are a bad thing. Too much cross traffic, to few options for turning other than at major intersections, too much stop and go. Badly designed bike paths are dangerous to users. They just opened a new bike path near here with much fanfare. I’ve not been there yet to see it. Based upon the photographs I saw, I’ll stick to the road. If you only want to ride five miles and take more than an hour to get there, almost any multiple use path will do. If you want to cover ground at a reasonable speed, such as averaging 12 mph for 40 miles, you aren’t going to do that on most segregated bike paths. Most are Multiple Use Paths (MUPS) and as such are not useable for commuting or traveling by bicycle.

  • […] was directed through Copenhagenize’s Twitter feed to this post. It was written in response to a well-known post on Copenhagenize which discusses Vehicular Cycling […]

  • Charlie Roop

    The problem with vehicular CYCLISTS (not cycling) – at least here in the U.S., is the freverent “any thing other than VC is wrong” attitude. There are times when VC is appropriate. But, there is just as many times where it is not and side paths or bike lanes would be more appropriate. I am a happy vehicular cyclists when I am on my city’s side and residential streets. Main arterial road? Ain’t gonna happen! Well, maybe if it is 3 a.m. and no cars are out. Let me say, the city I lived in a year ago – I was always a vehicular cyclist in the way that I rode. I commuted by bike every day, but I would never ‘identify’ as a vehicular cyclist. I also did an 1,800 mile bike tour last year.

    It all comes down to what is PRACTICAL and SAFE for the road and circumstances. What most VC fail to see is that with driver’s attitudes and behaviors, the average “want to start riding” person is not going to risk getting out there with the cars. Doesn’t matter how much you argue the VC philosophy…. they just won’t do it! So we NEED paths, lanes, and bikeways in order to get any real increase in bicyclists. And let’s face it. Here in the U.S., drivers do not want to see bikes on the road. And in most cases, they are not prosecuted if they do hit a cyclist.

    Once they have the experience, some cyclists will dip their toes in to VC riding. But overall, most will not. They feel safe and happy on their trails, paths and bike lanes. How can I say that? The evidence is right in front of us if you are willing to look. Here in Tulsa we have many miles of multi-use trails and bikeways. Every weekend in nice weather the trails are fully utilized – by people DRIVING to the trail to walk or ride it. Why? They don’t feel safe riding or walking the streets – even on the bikeways. The only places I regularly see bikes are the trails and some bikeways. Otherwise, it is either no bikes or they are on the sidewalks.

    If the VC advocates and the anti-VC advocates could both learn to turn down the volume and accept that each side is both right and wrong – that there are circumstances where each DIFFERENT method (VC, bike lanes, paths, trails and bikesways) can be better than another one. And it isn’t always “my way or the highway,” it could go a long ways to improving cycling here (and probably most places).

  • • We’re a brainwashed cult and our only hope for salvation is to obey the Holy Book of Effective Cycling. #JohnForester3:16

  • Neil Phillips

    Cycling in Sydney is up 48% in a year and a half, with cycling on the road 50m away from me up 80% in the same time period. There are pros and cons to separated infrastructure (personally I think they should be used sparingly), but it’s difficult to argue with the fact that cycling is up. As bike fans I think we’d all agree that’s good.

  • I ride the roads of Southern California. I don’t wear lycra nor would anyone describe me as MAMIL.

    The unrealistic fear of being run over by a motor vehicle is not based upon any facts, just emotion. If anyone cared to look it up they would find that overtaking collisions are the least common type of accident. According to The Tale of Three Cities less than 4% based upon their data set. Other studies I’ve read report similar data. If you cared to look they would find this is pretty consistent. But facts matter little to the cult of “build it they will come”.

    So the segregated facility advocates want to spend taxpayers money to the tune of about $1Million per mile for separated facilities to be used by what percent of the public? I see that happening real soon, not. Ever talked to non-cyclists about these ideas? I have, and believe me, they can be very vocal about not “taking money from motorists” to build bike facilities, and we were only talking about paint on the road! But segregated facility advocates want to spend tax money to alleviate a minimal problem. Who was it said that we’re not very good at accessing risk?

    Holland built bicycle paths after cycling became popular, not before. This seems to be a common theme of segregated bicycle advocates. Look at Europe! Look how the paths have increased use of bicycles! But this is a bogus argument, not based upon facts, like many of the other arguments of advocates of segregated facilities and the cult of “build it they will come”. Sydney Australia built facilities, and no one uses them, they ride on the roads, because it’s safer.

    I wonder how many of you that disparage John Forester have taught a college level course in bicycling, much less written a book for that course? Just because you believe a myth, doesn’t make it true. How many of you have taken an LAB accredited bicycling course? You probably think you know everything there is to know about riding a bike, so why would you need to take a class?

    Out of curiosity I went to the NHTSA web site. There were 30,797 traffic fatalities in the most recent reporting year 2009. 24,474 were in the cars. 4,462 were on motorcycles, and 4,092 were pedestrians. But only 630 were bicyclists. So it would seem that it is much more dangerous to walk, than to ride a bicycle. And it’s most risky to be in a car. But I doubt many people think much about riding in a car, or walking as a high risk activity. But bicycling, that’s really dangerous. By the way, in most places pedestrians have segregated facilities, doesn’t seem to be protecting them much.

    Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.

  • Erik G.

    Not everyone wants to be a lidded neon MAMIL trusting in all drivers to respect the laws of the state. I suspect also that most of us can avoid a car come from the side, but none of us can avoid a car running us over from behind.

    1 percent vs. 30-plus percent; Thus is the gift John Forester (who confessed to us that he has never been to post-war Holland) has bequeathed cycling.


  • Amoeba

    There is a reason why infrastructure often fails to encourage cycling – because it is often no good. Therefore to point to some infrastructure and claiming it proves your point is a logical fallacy. I don’t believe anyone believes that any infrastructure, no matter how badly it is designed and built will achieve the same results as properly designed, tried and tested infrastructure. You are using a strawman argument and calling it a religion is contemptible. As I have shown you repeatedly, much infrastructure is demonstrably not about encouraging cycling, I suspect it is often little more than a cynical box-ticking exercise.
    Segregated infrastructure is not always necessary, provided that other cycling friendly measures are introduced – speed-limits are kept low and residential and city centre streets are blocked to through traffic and road designs incorporate permeability measures for cyclists. There are many aspects to this and full details cannot easily be laid down in a comment.

    If you had read the link about ‘stop the child murder’ you would have realised that cycling in the Netherlands was set on a downward spiral like most of the industrialised world. The campaign resulted in cycling infrastructure being introduced to halt the appalling road mortality of children benefited cyclists of all ages and led to the cycling renaissance in the Netherlands. Since then cycling infrastructure has been constantly updated and improved and cycling levels continue to improve. Unsurprising really, when cycling infrastructure is designed by people who expect to be using it.

    So it is a case of plan, design and build it properly and the cyclists will come, but only if it it’s done properly, if it isn’t, few will use it and it will be a waste of money.

    That’s what I meant by a reasoned rebuttal. It was implied previously and I thought that you’d be able to take the hint, clearly I was wrong.

    BTW, are there any cases where vehicular cycling has succeeded in encouraging mass cycling for all ages [from young children to the elderly] as has been achieved in the Netherlands?

  • I don’t know anything about other countries, except what I read. I know what happens locally. Bicycling is a valid form of transport! Your mother, brother, nieces and nephews would be quite content and safe to ride on the streets, if they were educated to do so safely. But the majority of the public, whether cyclists or not, believes that cycling on streets is inherently dangerous. The number one cause of accidental death to children in the U.S.A. is automobile accidents, but most parents don’t think twice about putting their infant in a car. Bicycling is safer than driving, but the public doesn’t believe it. This shows that logic is not at work here, emotion is. Until the public can overcome the fear that bicycles are dangerous, they will continue to demand segregated facilities. The motoring public wants bicyclists out of the way, so as not to impede their travel. The motoring public believes, wrongly, that the roads are for motorized travel only. Horses, buggies, bicycles or any other non-motorized vehicles don’t belong on the road, by this line of thought. But it is wrong. I have no problem with side paths, per se, properly designed to prevent dangerous crossing by automobiles. I have a problem with laws that take away my right to travel on the public right of way as any other vehicle.

  • The reason is probably that, like many segregated facilities they are inferior to riding on the roads and increase cross traffic conflicts and right and left hooks. Look at the video from Portland. There’s nothing unique about the criticism there, it’s a common problem with segregated facilities in the U.S.A. driveway crossings, too many stops, not useable for traveling by bicycle. If all you want to do is ride along slightly faster than a walk, then they are probably sufficient. Don’t force me to use them, I like to get somewhere on my bicycle. My rides typically range from 25 to 100 miles. Segregated facilities are a fail for that kind of travel.

  • Which reasoned rebuttal would that be? I certainly didn’t hear one from Copenhagnize. His article is as full of name calling as mine, which is why I answered by calling him a cult leader. I haven’t heard one from any other sidepath advocates. Our local bicycle advocacy group is full of sidepath advocates, but they can’t get up a reasoned fact based argument either. Appeal to authority and fear mongering are not reasoned arguments.

  • As far as I’m aware, the history in the Netherlands is the same as in Copenhagen. First came the demand then the infrastructure, not the other way around.

  • Amoeba

    Can’t cope with reasoned rebuttal then?

  • Amoeba

    Why do you omit mention of the Netherlands? The Netherlands is arguably the optimal place for cycling and the cycling levels followed the stop the child-murder campaign. Might it be because it shows your theory is wrong?

  • Amoeba

    I admit that I know nothing about the infrastructure featured in the videos, but there must always be a reason why infrastructure isn’t used, is dangerous etc.

    In my experience of cycling infrastructure – mostly in the UK, it is often badly designed (if indeed ‘designed’ is an appropriate term); often is dangerous to use (door-zones etc.); badly maintained; pointless (e.g. doesn’t go where people want to go, or between places where people might want to travel); littered with dangerous obstacles (litter-bins, lampposts. signposts, telephone boxes, railings, fences, trees, mystery obstacles). Frequently cycling infrastructure in countries where cycling isn’t popular seems to be designed by people who either wouldn’t know what a bicycle was for, or intended to satisfy some kind of cyclist-hater’s perverted and sadistic fantasies.
    See below the dotted line for some examples.

    Cycling infrastructure needs to: provide cyclists with a feeling of security (not only must they be safe, they must feel safe, or it won’t be used); be well maintained (which includes being kept clear of of litter and swept clear of snow in the winter); designed to a high standard; free from pedestrians; be safe to use; practical; allow continuous high-speed travel without unnecessary or frequent stops; and integrated into a network.

    The answer is indeed build it and they will come, but miss out the important bits and then it hasn’t really been built, has it?

    It becomes like a car with no fuel and no prospect of any – a non-starter.

    Based upon observation and experience, cycling infrastructure is typically NOT designed for cycling. Designing infrastructure is an important task, clearly only appropriately-qualified people who know what they’re doing would be employed in such a capacity. When considering the evidence, what other explanation could there be apart from the inescapable conclusion that: Either much cycle infrastructure is designed by people who are using mind-altering drugs, or it is aimed specifically and deliberately at making cycling along it as awkward and difficult as possible by rendering it variously: dangerous, useless, unusable; impassable and worthless?

    I cite these: A one metre long cycle path, shorter than a bicycle
    a cycle lane three times the length of a bicycle
    nine median bollards in a row blocking cycle lane
    a bollard carefully placed to inconvenience cyclists
    More bollards carefully placed to inconvenience cyclists
    cycle lane blocked by trees
    cycle lane blocked by trees
    cycle lane blocked by bin and bollard
    cycle facility blocked by high kerb
    Qizarre quantum tunnelling!
    Limbo bars:
    more limbo-bars
    Lamp-post and bus-shelter
    narrow cycle lane rendered unusable by parked cars [door-zone]
    reversing zone
    pinch-point and traffic-calming for cyclists
    uphill traffic-calming for cyclists, but not cars
    railings block cycle-route
    more railings blocking a cycle path
    more railings blocking cycle path
    fence blocking cycle path
    intermittent- ‘dashed’ cycle lane
    swarm of eight cyclist dismount signs
    – (of course there are many more examples)].

  • Another one

    I don’t want to get into the argument about bike lanes (just like I stay out of the one on helmets), BUT I think that on BOTH sides calling people who don’t agree with you a “cult” is counterproductive. You are all cyclists and as long as you are arguing among yourselves, you have less resources (time, energy, etc.) to put toward advocating for better recognition of cycling as a valid form of transport. I don’t care whether there are bike lanes or not because I am as careful as any car driver (and more so), but I also know that my mother, brother, and nieces and nephews won’t ride on the street. Then again, if the street were smaller and cars were forced to go slower because of other changes, such as wider sidewalks to increase walking, then it would be safer for everyone.

    You disagree on the details, but the big issues should still unite you. Cycling is a valid form of transportation, governments should put effort into making cycling easier for people, maybe some studies need to be done to determine what will make people ride more (whether it be public transportation integration, more bike parking, increased protection against theft, or anything else). We should be having that fight now (especially the info gathering bit) rather than disparaging each other’s way of riding.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.