Although my niche role in the cycling renaissance is in the specialised areas of architectural and urban design theory, I want to draw attention to something very general, that we all should be focused on. If bike advocates and our allies could band together to achieve this one objective, from it our entire wish list of infrastructure projects would follow.
Lobby politicians for a law holding drivers liable in any accident involving a minor, cycling or walking. Children don’t walk or cycle because their mothers are rightly paranoid about traffic dangers, so are happy for them to live inside. Mums are paranoid because they know drivers are talking on cell phones, playing with nobs, and treating the street as though it is no place to be without an airbag. Campaigning to change that for the sake of “lycra louts” will get nowhere. Bicycle commuters have hardly any more sympathy in the electorate. God bless kids, for getting so fat.
Kids are so fat nowadays, and so annoying when they hang around home all the time doing Minecraft and Skype, that hardly a voter would disagree when I say: “kick them outside!” If that means being responsible for kids in the way we all drive, most voters would see a fair trade.
Frame it in terms of childhood obesity, the development of their cerebral cortexes and peoples nostalgia for their own knock-about childhoods, and our call for a strict liability law, specifically to protect minors, would have a chance in countries like Australia, the UK, Singapore and the US. The clever thing, if I do say so myself, is how the mere spectre of being held liable though you weren’t at fault, would wake everyone up. Public awareness campaigns are toothless. It’s the hip pocket nerve, and fear of their third-party insurers, that people respond to. Humans are too selfish to take notice of messages such as this:
So I’m issuing a challenge. Let’s all band together and make this a chant, and meet again to argue about the best kinds of infrastructure when we have won this most strategic of battles.