The task of forging a place for cycling, in cities that now have cars deep in their souls, is being hindered by simple ideas. “Simply lower speed limits and introduce no-fault laws to protect cyclists,” is one such idea. It is simple, but hardly elegant, as it overlooks a few obvious truths, for example: we live in democracies where voters see roads as things to go fast on, and; 7 year-olds can’t be expected to abide by road rules that were conceived to help cars.
Another simplistic idea, involves importing Dutch and Danish road design handbooks into countries where most voters want to preserve roads for car-use. Bicycle advocacy is held back, not helped, by well-meaning simpletons who see Copenhagen or Amsterdam as their Celestial City, then spend their lives crying that things on Earth are not as they are in Heaven. They look to the East for Jan Gehl’s Second Coming.
The political reality, out here in carland, is bicycle transport is a marginal mode, relegated to marginal space: parks, waterfronts, rail easements, brownfields, footpaths, back streets, etc. We can enhance those networks, consolidate housing around them, and, if the network doesn’t pass through our own neighbourhood, we have the option of moving. That’s a simple idea, that accomplishes more, which is what makes it elegant.
A particular fault of mine, is that if a stranger tells me they know NASA’s secrets, I don’t walk away before letting them crap on for an hour. Likewise, I don’t delete simplistic comments, beneath my blog posts. Really, I aught to. Engaging with them, as I usually do, is like saying everything twice for the benefit of a few dunces down the front of the lecture theatre, while the smart kids fidget and log onto facebook. Herewith and henceforth and without further adieu, I will no longer be adjusting for your lack of vision.