I was recently lead to this page on copenhagenize.com 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 Copenhagenize.com 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 a good example of how you can be killed in one of these “safe” separated bike paths called Mobile Phone + Right Hook
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.
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.