Tactical urbanism is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment, usually in cities, intended to improve local neighbourhoods and city gathering places.
Capitalism, Consumerism, and Auto Culture.
They all have at least one thing in common.
Not just any people, these organizations are made up of people who get to decide, for us, what best suites the majority of people. If it doesn’t serve their bottom line of profit or enhance consumption, then it isn’t in their best interests and they will not pursue it, even if it means some people will suffer for their inaction.
That’s fine if we are talking about window dressing or paint color. But when people have the potential to be hurt by their inaction it is time to take action.
Priority and safety is the focus of moving auto’s from point A to point B. This is a huge financial drain on us and on our cities. Worse, those who directly benefit from increased auto use are the people who operate auto corporations, not the people driving on the street.
Street lights help people feel safe and that this is a direct benefit to the user. No one wants to jog along a dark street. Better street lighting encourages nighttime driving. Well lit streets give a community a feeling of ease and a sense of safety. Though there are some studies which show that increased lighting on well paved area’s doesn’t increase safety. But tell that to someone fumbling around in a dark parking lot or trying to make out street signs as they look for their friends house at 2 a.m.
Trails which move people on foot, bike, or wheelchair do not see the same safety measures given to those systems which have the greatest benefit to auto’s and those who directly benefit from selling you an auto. The real problem, as I see it, is incomplete or one sided education of our urban planners. People who don’t use the very trails they design or if they do use it, they don’t use it in the way that those most vulnerable are using the trails. Mainly during low light conditions. Students, working families, and/or anyone else who is tied up with the day to day cares of this world have the evening to enjoy the trails. Early morning commuters who want to enjoy a stress free commute, deserve quality trails. So why should they be left to stumble around in the dark?
When you have exhausted every avenue available to you. When your words fall on deaf ears. What is there left to do?
Shall we fold our hands and say “At least I tried.”
Did you try?
Is it possible that there is something more you can do?
Enter Tactical Urbanism.
Creating safer communities through direct involvement.
When you’ve been told that the cost of installing lighting along the trail is too expensive. Or you’ve been told that it just isn’t feasible. What you are really hearing is “Your concerns are not important.”
But your concerns are important. You as an individual are important, both to yourself and to someone else. Taking a positive step to help those in your community is an act which is both selfless and selfish. By taking an active part in your community you are bettering it not only for yourself but for all of those around you.
Sometimes our city planners need us to show them the way. It’s not that they can’t figure it out. It’s that they don’t have the motivation to do the research that we have done.
Tactical Urbanism is one positive and friendly way to show them just how easy it is to install some lights.
I highly encourage you to take an active role in the betterment of your community. You can learn more about tactical urbanism from the original creators through this link: Here.
People need to feel connected to their community. This connection creates, not only a sense of belonging but also, a sense of responsibility. When people take responsibility for their community the direct benefit is a safer community. Isn’t that what we all want?
By now you should know that calling a crash an accident is a way of moving liability away from the person driving the vehicle.
Reading an article in CNN Money, I see a correlation between litigation and blaming the inanimate object. (Yes, you can draw an analogy about guns here too.)
There isn’t any such thing as an accident when it comes to auto collisions. Wet roads are no more to blame for your lead foot than an app is to blame for this horrific collision.
“The plaintiff, Wentworth Maynard, was merging onto a four lane highway outside of Atlanta, Georgia when his car was struck “so violently it shot across the left lane into the left embankment,” his lawyers contend.”
Everything you do is about choices. We make choices everyday. We choose to oversleep an alarm because we chose to stay up late. We choose to linger in the shower and we choose to speed under the false assumption that we can “make up time.”
When cycling advocates are educating you about light signals and how traffic is engineered to operate at a set speed, you chose to ignore us.
We make many minute and seemingly inconsequential choices everyday.
Which weighs more? A ton of feathers or a ton of bricks?
They both weigh the same. A ton. But the volume of feathers to create a ton is vast compared to the volume of bricks to equal the same tonnage.
Each feather is a seemingly inconsequential choice that you made throughout your day, week, year, and life. But when that ton of feathers hits you, it’s going to feel like a load of bricks.
Manufacturers and corporations make choices too.
I’m not saying that corporations don’t have a part to play in the choices we make. They most certainly do.
Snapchat chose to put out an app with the ability to capture your speed while using the app.
Auto advertisements show people driving in ways that are patently unsafe and they choose to pay a lot of money to have these ad’s placed during prime viewing times.
Here’s a scenario: You can read it in full detail here.
You’re driving down the road in your car on a wild and stormy night. The weather is like a hurricane, with heavy rains, high winds, and lightning flashing constantly. While driving, you come across a partially-covered bus stop, and you can see three people waiting for a bus:
An old woman who looks as if she is about to die.
An old friend who once saved your life.
The perfect partner you have been dreaming about (your “soulmate”).
Knowing that you only have room for one passenger in your car (it’s a really small car), which one would you choose to offer a ride to? And why?
You can believe that you are limited by your choices or you can think outside the box.
We need to emphasize critical thinking skills when educating drivers and cyclists.
We also need to emphasize that speeding, distracted (any distraction) driving, and driving drowsy or drunk are choice’s and there isn’t ever an excuse for the choices we make. We are to blame when we make bad choices.
I mention the above scenario about the bus stop because I was confronted by an Atheist (I’m one too). He said that I was on some high horse and that there were definitely excuses for speeding. He then brought up a real situation in which he believed that his mother was dying and he sped to the hospital. He was pulled over and given a speeding ticket.
He then went on to justify his speeding by admitting that he was so distracted by his distress over the idea of his mother dying without him that he failed to notice the speed limit sign.
I tried to reason with him logically about public spaces and how his actions have direct consequences for others on public roads. He refused to acknowledge anything I was saying and launched into a personal attack instead. I saved the conversation and will present it in another blog at a future date. But for now, know that two of the deadliest weapons in history, the automobile and the gun, have even critical thinkers blathering emotionalism when it comes to their cherished beliefs. It truly defies logic.
There isn’t ever an excuse to justify speeding. Much like there isn’t an excuse to justify shooting someone who is unarmed. Corporations and manufacturers have a responsibility to the public at large. Snapchat has no excuse for putting out an app that encourages users to speed. Users have no excuse for choosing to use the app or for speeding.
When your choices affect others, you are duty bound to consider the consequences of your actions!
Public roads are shared space. You are required to share public roads with large vehicles, small vehicles, slower vehicles, and people on foot.
This is not a diatribe of vitriol aimed at the auto industry and their mechanised efforts at turning the world into one big patch of asphalt. (The auto industry is trying to turn the world into a giant parking lot. In case you didn’t know.)
This isn’t a tree hugging, left leaning, liberal agenda designed to shame you into freeing up precious public space. (Though you should)
This article is a refresher on a long standing law. One which the majority of the world has forgotten about. (Not entirely based on this picture.)
I’m basing this on KRS 189.00 (Kentucky Revised Statutes section 189 Rules of the Road). Your state will have similar statutes as these statutes are from the Uniform Traffic Code.
In the definitions of KRS 189.00 we see that a parking lot falls under the definition of a highway.
(3) “Highway” means any public road, street, avenue, alley or boulevard, bridge, viaduct, or trestle and the approaches to them and includes private residential roads and parking lots covered by an agreement under KRS 61.362, off-street parking facilities offered for public use, whether publicly or privately owned, except for-hire parking facilities listed in KRS 189.700.
A PARKING LOT IS A HIGHWAY.
Every parking lot is governed by the same rules of the road that you obey on any other highway. You can be ticketed for breaking the speed limit in a parking lot. You can also be ticketed for driving on the wrong side of the road and failing to yield. In fact, anything you can be written a ticket for on a road, you can be given a ticket for in a parking lot.
(6) The speed limit for motor vehicles in an off-street parking facility offered for public use, whether publicly or privately owned, shall be fifteen (15) miles per hour.
In a parking lot you drive on the right as per KRS 189.300
You are not allowed to operate over 15 miles per hour. This is for the safety of pedestrians and people trying to park.
If it’s illegal, it isn’t safe AND if it’s legal, it is safe. This is the foundation of good laws. Bad laws discriminate. Good laws keep you safe without infringing on the rights of others.
Each parking space is a lane. It is intended for one vehicle. Stay in your lane. Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes. Some vehicles will not take up as much space as a huge SUV. That’s ok. That parking spot is theirs even if they don’t occupy every square inch of it.
The center travel lane is well… a lane. Seems rather redundant but some people need that extra explanation. The center lane is an unmarked highway lane. So you follow both KRS 189.300 and KRS 189.310.
You drive on the right and give half the highway to oncoming traffic. You will operate as close as practicable to the right hand curb or boundary of the highway. You only need to be over far enough to allow passing traffic reasonable clearance. If you swap paint, one of you wasn’t over far enough.
RIGHT OF WAY!
When you are pulling out of a parking spot, you do not have the right of way. Think of a parking lane as though it were a side street entering into a main road. Imagine you have a stop or yield sign.
The person traveling on the main road may stop and yield to allow you to pull out. This is operating with due care.
KRS 189.290 Operator of vehicle to drive carefully.
(1) The operator of any vehicle upon a highway shall operate the vehicle in a careful manner, with regard for the safety and convenience of pedestrians and other vehicles upon the highway.
Driving across parking lots, that have vehicles parked in them, isn’t safe. There could be someone traveling up the road and you wouldn’t see them in time to prevent a collision. Follow the flow of traffic and observe ROTR (Rules Of The Road) statutes.
A lot of cyclists feel safe cycling in a parking lot.
A parking lot has hazards and shouldn’t be treated as a free for all.
Some people will use a parking lot as an example of the most dangerous portion of a road. They are right.
You have so much going on in a parking lot that if you aren’t paying attention you could get seriously hurt or worse.
People driving cars have double duty when in a parking lot. Pedestrians already present have the right of way. First come, first served, and duty of care. You don’t have special rights because you are in an auto. Public highways are level playing fields. You have to drive appropriately for conditions.
Above all else remember this.
PARKING LOTS ARE NOT A NO MAN’S LAND OF FREE FOR ALL’S!
“We, collectively, are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.” – President Obama
Some people like to play war. It’s their idea of fun to dress in camo, paint their faces, and run around using combat techniques. This can be seen mostly in the wildly popular paintball fields.
But our shared roads are not war zones or recreational war games. Our roads are public spaces and they should be treated as inclusive zones of human compassion and courtesy. Not war zones that we battle our way across or through.
With war there is death and the industry which has arisen out of that inevitable trip we all must take, but not before our time.
People appear to really enjoy death.
We get very emotional over death, are moved by death, and we are (sometimes) spurred into action because of death. Passionate volumes are written to the departed. People mass together and go for rides memorializing the dead. It’s macabre. Especially when you consider that we rarely do anything, if we do anything at all, to prevent death in the first place.
Why are we so inspired by death?
Death defying stunts don’t thrill us because we watched someone make it through alive. They thrill us because we might actually get to see someone die.
We’ve been outraged over the death of our loved ones for over a hundred years. We’ve offered our condolences, our thoughts, and our prayers.
But when it comes to making real and effective change we suddenly remembered that we have pressing business to attend to somewhere else.
Your “thoughts” should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your “prayers” should be for forgiveness if you do nothing – again.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 2, 2015
Life, celebrate it.
Losing a loved one is tough and it isn’t my intention to diminish the pain felt by those who must pick up the pieces and carry on after someone has had their life tragically cut short.
What I am suggesting is that we start celebrating life by taking action to protect the life we currently have.
I don’t want to see another ghost bike or white cross on the side of the road. I don’t want to participate in the “Ride of Silence.”
I want to see us focusing our energy on positive life affirming initiatives which promote the safety and well being of everyone.
There is plenty that we can do to help those who are alive and uninjured.
The first thing I want to do is encourage you to TAKE THE LANE!
The shoulder is not intended for travel, it is not continuous, and it is an EMERGENCY LANE!
I’ve ridden my bicycle on Versailles Rd (You can watch here) both on the shoulder and in the travel lane. When I used the travel lane I took an assertive lane position. I also used my rear light for added “eye catching” visibility, both on and off the shoulder. I didn’t feel safe either on the shoulder or in the lane. This is one of those monster roads which have no business existing. It was designed for high speed auto use only. Yet you will see pedestrians, cyclists, and horse and carriage on this road. Un-equitable use of public tax dollars.
Drivers are educated to swerve to the right and off the road to avoid a collision. They are also educated to pull to the right to take a call or make a text on their phone. Or if they are having a personal emergency. There are all kinds of distractions and the brain is not capable of handling more than one task at a time. You may look but you won’t see what is off to the side of you. Drivers are educated to see what is in front of them. Our brains are just not evolved enough to handle multi tasking in an auto.
When people take the time to accept responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming others for their faults, then we will have safe roads for all.
Until that time we need to educate people that the roads are public space and all users should be treated with equity.
When you are driving in the presence of a pedestrian or a cyclist, MOVE OVER AND SLOW DOWN!
Give cyclists and pedestrians a Brake.
We have no problem understanding who’s at fault when a motorist rear ends another motorist. It’s a no brainer really. The person who hit the other vehicle is automatically found at fault. But when it comes to a motorist rear ending a cyclist. Well that leaves everyone scratching their heads or blaming the cyclist.
By educating cyclists to use safe cycling principals and to operate with the flow of traffic we are eliminating the prejudice that is inflicted on cyclists. When legislation exists which puts drivers in the position of having to prove that they did everything they could to avoid a collision with a pedestrian or a cyclist then we will have equitable legislation. The 1900’s approach of blaming the pedestrian or the cyclist is as old school and as prejudiced as Jim Crow laws.
Education isn’t victim blaming. Because drivers have to take an education course to obtain a license we assume that the driver is more educated than the cyclist, when the reality is that the opposite is true. By having mandatory education in schools and mandatory education on how to operate around cyclists in drivers training, we will effectively flip our way of thinking.
During the 1990s a new approach, known as ‘shared space‘ was developed which removed many of these features in some places has attracted the attention of authorities around the world. The approach was developed by Hans Monderman who believed that “if you treat drivers like idiots, they act as idiots” and proposed that trusting drivers to behave was more successful than forcing them to behave.Professor John Adams, an expert on risk compensation suggested that traditional traffic engineering measures assumed that motorists were “selfish, stupid, obedient automatons who had to be protected from their own stupidity” and non-motorists were treated as “vulnerable, stupid, obedient automatons who had to be protected from cars – and their own stupidity”.
Reported results indicate that the ‘shared space’ approach leads to significantly reduced traffic speeds, the virtual elimination of road casualties, and a reduction in congestion.Living streets share some similarities with shared spaces. The woonerven also sought to reduce traffic speeds in community and housing zones by the use of lower speed limits enforced by the use of special signage and road markings, the introduction of traffic calming measures, and by giving pedestrians priority over motorists.
Shared space isn’t a new approach. But it is one which we seem loath to accept. Much like we hated the idea of sharing toys in kindergarten.
Not all space should be considered “shared” space except when there isn’t any other alternative. I’m thinking of rural roads and dense urban landscape as places which by default must be shared.
Places where we can have “Bikeways”* are places where we have the space to design infrastructure which equally caters to the specific needs of pedestrians and cyclists.
I never ever want to see a painted bike lane on the edge of a 55 mph highway. Like the one they talked about when I was being harassed by motorists and police for legally and safely cycling in the right hand lane of U.S. 27 in Jessamine Co. Kentucky.
*Bikeways: Unlike Bike lanes, Bike paths, and Cycle Tracks; Bikeways are mini highways for the exclusive use of cyclists. Bikeways are built to the same exact engineering standards of safety and rules of the road as a traditional public access highway. They are protected from auto traffic much like a Cycle Track but unlike Cycle Tracks they do not contra flow. There is plenty of urban space for Bikeways.
Bikeways have specific light cycles giving cyclists right of way at intersections. Unlike the average bike lane where most cyclists are victims of right hooks. The Bikeway also accounts for cyclists who need to make a left by giving them right of way during specific light cycles to make a protected left turn, much like a motorist has a light cycle to make a left. This is not to be confused with the Dutch approach of the pedestrian cross where the cyclist waits, moves forward, waits again before finally completing their left turn.
NO MORE DEATH.
Celebrate life and actively support those who are safely cycling on public roads. Even if it looks weird to you.
KRS 189.390 (2) An operator of a vehicle upon a highway shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent, having regard for the traffic and for the condition and use of the highway.
Speed limits in URBAN zones.
A woman was killed on a residential street in Nicholasville KY. She was crossing her street when a driver fatally struck her.
According to Officer Grimes of Nicholasville PD, the motorist didn’t commit a crime until they fled the scene. Officer Grimes said “This could have just been a traffic accident. Where they didn’t see the individual or whatever may have happened.” In fact Officer Grimes attitude is the typical “Aw shucks. Accidents happen,” attitude so prevalent in law enforcement when it comes to driver on pedestrian crime.
While this is the opinion of a few poorly educated law enforcement officials. Is it what the statute in Kentucky actually says?
Kentucky’s traffic statutes are directly from the Uniform Vehicle Code and they are pretty basic. Every state follows these basic laws. Some states have rewritten the UVC to narrow the scope of its definitions. This can be good in that it takes something which could be interpreted one of two ways and plainly says what the intention of the law is. It can be bad in that if it is too narrowly defined you could be breaking the law and not know it.
Urban zones are areas of built up infrastructure. They include residential, businesses, and mixed use. In towns and cities with good city planning and zoning laws, you will find sidewalks, clearly marked pedestrian crossings, and lower speed limits.
The absence of pedestrian friendly infrastructure is not an excuse for striking a pedestrian with your auto.
Speed limits in Kentucky are statutorily set and can be reduced by petitioning the State Secretary of Transportation.
KRS 189.390(3) The speed limit for motor vehicles on state highways shall be as follows, unless conditions exist that require lower speed for compliance with subsection (2) of this section, or the secretary of the Transportation Cabinet establishes a different speed limit in accordance with subsection (4) of this section:
(a) Sixty-five (65) miles per hour on interstate highways and parkways;
(b) Fifty-five (55) miles per hour on all other state highways; and
(c) Thirty-five (35) miles per hour in a business or residential district. (4) (a) If the secretary of transportation determines, upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation, that any speed limit is greater or less than is reasonable or safe under the conditions found to exist at any intersection, or upon any part of a state highway, the secretary of transportation may establish by official order a reasonable and safe speed limit at the location.
While the state has set the “official” maximum statutorily to 35 mph, it should be noted that the bulk of residential roads are officially set to 25 mph. Where residences and business’ are mixed the speed limit will fluctuate between 25 mph to 35 mph.
When signage indicates that the speed limit has increased to 35 mph from 25 mph, this is not a license to speed freely through. You are still charged to operate your vehicle with due care.
It is not reasonable or prudent to assume that there are no pedestrians present in a business zone. Especially if the business zone is adjacent or abuts to a residential zone.
Speeding, so much as one mile over the speed limit, has a citation code.
If you can’t stop your vehicle in time to avoid striking a pedestrian, you are traveling too fast for road conditions.
The person who killed the mother in Nicholasville should have, had they actually stopped and rendered aid, been charged with speeding and reckless driving.
Every intersection, whether clearly marked or not, is a pedestrian crossing and you are required to approach these at a prudent speed.
KRS 189.00 has defined intersections as follows:
When operating a motor vehicle in urban zones, it is always best practice to operate a few miles below the posted speed limit.
If it is dark out or if conditions prevent you from having clear visibility, it is always best practice to reduce your speed. You should travel at a speed which allows you to react quickly should something suddenly appear before you.
It goes without saying that drinking and driving do not mix. Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Distracted driving and drowsy driving are as bad as drunk driving.
I believe that if people drove their autos with as much care as is actually required to operate them, not only would we have fewer collisions but we would have fewer people eager to drive. Driving is hard work and requires your full attention. Your brain needs to be focused on the task at hand.
Watch video here. Officer Grimes interview and the description below is on the second video in the link.
You can see the 25 mph speed limit behind the reporter. Note the drivers they catch on film speeding through at 35 mph.
The myth that you can operate 10 mph over the speed limit before the police will do anything is just that, a myth. Where this myth gains momentum and becomes established as reality, is when our law enforcement takes a winking attitude towards people who speed.
Kentucky’s statutes clearly charge drivers to operate at speeds which are prudent for the conditions they are in.
KRS 189.390 Speed
(2) An operator of a vehicle upon a highway shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent, having regard for the traffic and for the condition and use of the highway.
Driving on rural roads.
“Shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent,”
What does that mean?
From an engineering perspective operating at speeds for which the road was designed for, which is only a small part of this statute.
How does it apply to a driver operating on a clear day with high visibility on a rural back road?
Let’s assume a straight stretch of road, out in the middle of nowhere. No side streets, no business’, or residences with traffic pulling in or merging out.
It means you can operate at or near the posted speed limit as long as doing so does not interfere with the established rights of those already lawfully present on the highway.
Now let’s add a residence.
It means you operate at a speed which gives you sufficient braking distance should a pet or child suddenly dart out into the road. There is reasonable expectation that someone could be checking their mailbox or crossing the road to visit their neighbor, when residences are present.
I’d also add that we are still assuming a perfectly flat and straight road.
Now let’s add a curve in the road.
It means you operate at a speed which gives you sufficient braking distance should a vehicle, pedestrian, pet, fallen log, or a wild animal present itself on the road.
The lesson here is never ever operate as though the road ahead of you is clear when you are not able to see what is actually ahead of you. You do not have a reasonable expectation that there won’t be anything around a curve in the road.
Engineering standards require you to slow down even for gentle curves with some visibility ahead. You can not operate with the assumption that your vehicle is going to maintain contact with the pavement as you take a turn at speed.
Let’s add a hill.
We are going to go back to assuming a straight road without any potential conflicts from the side of a road.
You are required to operate your vehicle at a speed which allows you sufficient braking distance should you encounter another vehicle or object over the crest of a hill.
You should never operate at a speed which causes you to “catch air.” When your tires are not in contact with the ground you do not have any control over your vehicle.
“Gribler said that, “in hindsight,” Oliver should not have been speeding through Bloomingdale into the sun and over a blind hill…”
The mother of the injured boy had this to say.
“I was almost physically ill,” she said. “All along I’d been telling my boys to keep faith, there will be a reprimand, he’ll suffer, he’ll be punished, and I just felt such failure. How am I supposed to help my boys keep their faith when there is no repercussion?
You can never ever assume that there isn’t something on the other side of the hill.
Summary of part 1
All things being perfect you still can not operate faster than the posted speed nor can you operate at a speed which interferes with anyone who is already lawfully present on the road.
You are still required to operate at a speed which allows you sufficient reaction time and braking distance to avoid a collision.
This falls under reasonable and prudent operation of a vehicle.
Next week we will look at dense urban areas and discuss this tragic story.
Don’t you hate it when people start off writing with an opening like that? I know I do. I write this salutation to warn you that what you are about to read will (hopefully) blow your mind. I wrote it quickly and without proofreading. So excuse my deplorable punctuation and grammar. Which has always been deplorable but had the benefit of proofreading. This needs to be said and it needs to be said now.
If you have been reading my blog from the beginning you will, hopefully, have noticed a theme.
I am first and foremost a proponent of everyone getting along and sharing that which has been entrusted to the public for public use. I paid attention in Kindergarten when we were taught to respect each other and share. I hope you did too.
I am not, as some less than emotionally stable people will insist, against infrastructure. What I am against is the flawed logic that all of cyclings problems can be resolved with infrastructure alone.
In fact I believe that it is this bicycle infra. only cult which has lead to the deaths of many cyclists and the culture of removing the blame from motorists for their bad driving habits. Because “if they’d only had a bike lane none of this would have happened” is specious logic.
At the end of this blog I will present solutions to these problems.
Where the article in TreeHugger fails is in…
Blaming cyclists for the injuries they sustain due to careless drivers is rape culture. As this, hot off the press and the straw which broke this blogger’s back, article in TreeHugger accurately portrays. Where they fail is in the conclusion.
The article in TreeHugger promotes rape culture. Blaming infra. or the lack thereof but not fully placing the onus on the perpetrator of the attack is rape culture.
Blaming a cyclist for the actions of a careless driver are ingrained in us, not by those who want to see cyclists as expected and respected, but rather by those who have made it their personal mission to create a smear campaign against those of us who are actively trying to require motorists to be held accountable for their actions.
I often hear “If they had a bike lane this wouldn’t have happened,” as though we can just engineer all of societal ills out of public roads.
I believe that everyone has a right to use the public roads and that they should be treated with equal status when on the roads. I also believe that good bicycle infra is an essential component of encouraging cycling. I don’t believe that it’s the only component to promoting cycling.
I myself was arrested for legally and safely cycling on a public road. I wasn’t not using the shoulder to be “Cute” or “Prove a point” as the zealots claim. No! I was a new, in every way, cyclist who took up cycling as a means to provide for her children.
I, as a poor hardworking single mom, got shafted by both “Motorists are king of the road” car culture and “Special snowflake syndrome” bike culture. Not to be confused with responsible motorists and responsible bicycle advocates.
I still struggle to get people to take my story seriously because some people have chosen to latch onto the idea that this was a stunt by VC.
Where the article in Tree Hugger fails is in…
Religious fanaticism is the antithesis to religion.
You can not believe in an all loving God. A God whom you believe created everything on earth and pronounced it good while shitting on those who question its existence. Nor can you follow such a God and believe that he has chosen you, above all others, as especially blessed, giving you special leave to shit on anyone who doesn’t believe in this same God, exactly as you believe in it.
Enter bicycle specific infra. only zealots.
Every problem which plagues cyclists can not all fit into a bike lane. The bike lane is not Jesus resurrected, come to save cyclists from the sinfulness of motorkind.
Bike lanes, like religion, can be good and helpful.
And like religion, they can also be bad. Very, very bad, and that which was created to solve problems can in and of itself create a plethora of new problems, as this article shows. Link here. Especially if the bike lane is engineered using the very common practice of “get cyclists the hell off the road and out of our way!” car culture engineering.
Anyone who questions the safety and viability of a bike lane is immediately shouted down by the “Infra. only zealots.” A rather cultish group of people who troll twitter and call anyone who asks for better forethought in bicycle infrastructure a “Cunt,” as in… “You must be a VC! Because only a VC would ever question a bike lane you cunt.”
I was so angry when a twitter user did just that because I was trying to promote bike infra which would accommodate wider bicycles for people with special needs.
Where the article in TreeHugger fails is in…
Our European friends may not be familiar with “Jim Crow” laws and it is this lack of familiarity which will lead them to question our aversion to words like “separated infra.” Because as we know here in the United States and especially the South, “Separate but Equal,” is anything but. Andy Clarke was himself a infra only leader and used his political power to try and establish mandatory cycle lane laws in Washington state. A state where cycling is given the advantage of infra succeeding or failing by the comfort with which cyclists feel when using it. And calling a cyclist a VC (Vehicular Cyclist) has, in the world of cycling, been given the emotional weight of calling a person of color the “N” word. It is a word which was once and briefly used to describe the facts of a person’s skin color but then rapidly became a way to dehumanize and humiliate a class of people. Much in the same way that overly zealous followers of infra only “Guru’s” will preach to their follows that all VC are ANTI-INFRA! For an interesting read about the opinion of just such a Guru, click the blue link.
When in reality nothing could be further from the truth. I consider myself a connoisseur of infra. I understand how to operate in traffic and I want the best infra possible. I don’t want crumbs from the “Car Culture” table and I don’t believe that we are being given a feast when someone paints a shitty little lane into the gutter. Or worse between two 12 foot wide lanes. I know better.
What Mr. C. Anderson consistently fails to grasp is that in America, our shitty by blow bike lanes, a bastardization of auto culture, are further made unbearable by “Mandatory Use” laws. And it is those laws which I hate above all else.
He almost had it right.
A vehicular cyclist isn’t repulsive. A vehicular cyclist is one of the most educated cyclists on the road. And as @Rightlegpegged once asked “Have you even read the Uniform Manual on Bicycle Infra or attended a city council meeting?”
Have you even. Much like, you’re so stupid but I’ll condescend to acknowledge you.
The answer is yes. In fact, the greater majority of VC I know are passionate advocates for good bicycle infra, as they themselves are cyclists who cycle for transportation. They, like me, cycle in spite of a lack of infra. So let’s give them the respect they deserve.
Have you even talked to a VC about their concerns?
HOW DO WE SOLVE THIS?
We need to immediately stop slurring anyone who is using VC cycling principles for their safety.
We need to create a safe place where people can share their concerns about infra without immediately resorting to name calling.
Repeal all mandatory bike lane use laws.
Make it a penalty against the officer for not ticketing a motorist who causes injury to a cyclist.
Stop encouraging people to cycle on the edge of a road by shaming them into thinking they are being VC if they occupy a whole lane.
Mandatory cycling education across the board and on every level.
And I feel this is super important. Create policy mandating cycling infra be made with the same specification on the user’s safety as is given to auto infra engineering.
Lower speed limits.
Re-visit past tort law and educate law enforcement that the onus is on the driver to operate with care around pedestrians and cyclists.
Ban auto ads from television and social media. Like cigarettes they have a huge impact on public health and shape the culture of speed makes right and entitlement.
We can do all of this and still promote good infra.
I also would like to see sharrows in low speed residential areas. This is a place where bike lanes don’t make sense at all.
While I’m working to end car culture, be so kind as to support me. Instead of talking about me behind my back, giving me the cold shoulder, or making fun of me ask me about what I would do to make cycling better for all.
Let me plainly state that my problem with the article in TreeHugger is that it blames a lack of infra on the careless actions of a motorist. That is rape culture.
Though this isn’t anything new, since the inception of the automobile the death toll has been catastrophic. Americans have recognized the dangers of high auto speeds. It’s a universal knowledge that speed kills. Yet it is often the last reason cited in traffic collision reports. There was a time when people tried to mandate the use of governors to effectively reduce the operating speeds of motor vehicles. Auto manufacturers were understandably alarmed.
Higher awareness about the inherent dangers of speed meant less product sold. Or maybe it was that fewer people would crash and destroy their auto thus requiring the purchase of a new auto?
Either way a slick propaganda campaign was implemented and people were convinced that this was an end to their personal freedom. Never mind the freedom of everyone else.
Companies, such as AAA, which today are known for their emphasis on safety were behind the push to force pedestrians and bicycles off the road.
AAA and other auto clubs turned first to the younger generation, financing safety education programs in the public schools that were designed to teach children that streets are for cars, not for kids. “The Invention of Jaywalking.”
The product, and the financial gains to be had from it, were the driving force behind the movement to all but eliminate the competition.
Once the landscape had been cleared of obstacles, figuratively and literally, the motor manufacturers were free to irresponsibly sell product.
The advertisements were focused on economy, durability, and reliance.
They emphasised the manliness of auto owners and their ability to “Wow” the ladies. One advert emphasised their auto as being so easy “Women and children can safely use it.”, another calls their auto the “Boss of the Road” and “So simple that a boy of 15 can run it.”
Motor ads were not responsible in the advertisement of their products. They had one mission in mind, to sell as many autos as possible. No matter the cost to human lives.
That cost was excessive. Upto 55,000 people were killed per year by autos. That’s an epidemic!
When faced with a health crisis of these proportions, we take action. Yet we have largely overlooked the consummate dangers to public health by turning a blind eye to auto ads.
We banned ads for cigarettes, as public awareness grew over the dangers of smoking to the public. Big tobacco companies were pushing their product on unsuspecting consumers.
By banning ads for cigarettes public health interests, like W.H.O., have effectively reduced the incidence of smoking. This is an important beginning step to eliminating an expensive and destructive bad habit. The costs of which affect the user individually and the public as a whole. We acknowledged the health risks to the users of tobacco products as well as to those who were subjected to secondhand smoke.
The auto isn’t any different.
The auto is the most dangerous form of transportation available in modern day.
The health impacts are mind boggling. Pollution, cancer causing agents, socio economic suffering, legal systems which punish the poor through a pay to play ticket scheme, the death of our children outside and inside autos, and increased health risks through lack of exercise. It’s all too much to put into one story.
Not too much more can be said, which has not already been said, about the history and nature of the auto.
The automobile is a weapon or a tool. It mainly depends on the ability and intent of the user.
There was a time when the auto filled a need as a personal mobility device. With the expanding use of public transportation and alternate means of travel it is a product whose time has come and gone.
With denser urban areas becoming the norm, revivals in public transit, and auto for hire schemes such as Lyft and Uber; there really isn’t a need for personal autos. Not even for long distance trips. Rent a car and be done with it.
One would think that we’d be over the car kick by now. Except we aren’t.
Part of the reason, I believe, is because of persuasive auto ads. These ads are designed to create a sense of urgent need and a feeling of superiority when on the road.
Gas prices are dropping and Auto Ads are increasing. Along with these increases are deaths. Your loved ones are being destroyed by auto culture and you’re ok with it. Not because you’re ok with your loved one being killed, but because you are brainwashed by auto ads to believe you need that product which is killing your loved ones.
Remember cigarette ads on T.V.?
Neither do I. Yet there was a time when they were sold via television ads. So many ads telling people how sexy smoking was, how invigorating, how tasty! Smoking was increasing and so were the illnesses associated with it.
Through the efforts of activists who genuinely cared about the well being of the American people, over the profits of cigarette manufacturers, a ban on television ads were put into place.
In 1964, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed that advertisers had a responsibility to warn the public of the health hazards of cigarette smoking. In 1969, after the surgeon general of the United States released an official report linking cigarette smoking to low birth weight, Congress yielded to pressure from the public health sector and signed the Cigarette Smoking Act. Via History Channel
This is exactly what we need for auto ads.
We need a full out ban on ads which promote products rated by the CDC as the number one killer of our children.
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 33,000 people died from motor vehicle crashes in 2013 alone.1 Via CDC
Driving is not a passive act. It is hard work and you are required to keep your wits about you while you are doing it.
With the huge flux of auto ads telling us that driving is fun, easy, desirable, sleek, sexy, and your ticket to freedom. Is it any wonder that people “feel” like they “need” to drive?
These are all catch phrases that were used to push cigarette ads and yet we were able to fight “the man” and have them kicked off of television and radio.
So why aren’t we doing that for auto ads?
So the next time you see an auto ad pop up in your news feed, be sure and let them know what you find disturbing about it and add the hashtag #BanAutoAds. Your children’s lives depend on it.
You have options on how to get to work and people are fighting to make those options easier and more accessible to you. Help them.
Don’t wait around for special infra as some people will tell you to do. Take an education course such as Cycling Savvy and learn what real freedom actually feels like.
You can safely travel by walking, cycling, public transport, and auto rentals to get you where you need to go.
Douglas Bruce Ford, Jr. is a Canadian businessperson and politician in Toronto, Ontario. Ford was Toronto City Councillor for Ward 2 Etobicoke North in Toronto from 2010 to 2014 at the same time that his brother, Rob Ford, was mayor of Toronto. Wikipedia
Robert Bruce “Rob” Ford is a Canadian politician and businessperson who is a Toronto City Councillor. He was the 64th Mayor of Toronto, serving from 2010 to 2014. Prior to being mayor, Ford was a city councillor. Wikipedia
Car centric societies have no business engineering bicycle specific infrastructure. They aren’t qualified. You can not live your entire life driving a car and think that your engineering degree makes you fit to design bicycle specific infrastructure. You can’t do it. It’s like hiring someone who only walks, and has never driven, to design the roads you drive on. You would consider them unqualified, no matter how extensive their engineering knowledge or how many framed bits of expensive paper they have hanging on their wall.
You have to feel bicycling.
Local cycling advocate Tyler P. wants to ride his bicycle. He has a job, he goes to school, he shops, pays taxes, and is an all around responsible person.
He is a first class citizen being treated with second class status.
Because he rides a bicycle.
Toronto a.k.a. ‘Car’onto thanks to politicians like the “Ford’s” is vastly lopsided in its engineering practices. These engineering policies affect the entire province of Ontario, including the city of St. Catharines in the Niagara region.
Tyler P. has been actively reaching out to the local administration in the Niagara region and asking them for
These are temporary signs that he is asking to be placed until the new construction is complete.
As it stands now. There is a 1.2 meter sidewalk and the city of St. Catharines is asking cyclist to dismount and walk their bicycles across a bridge.
It’s a long walk.
Bicycling for transportation is fun. It’s also healthy, good for the environment, and easy on the wallet. The number one response from cyclists when asked why they enjoy cycling is “FREEDOM.”
You can’t get that with a car, even if you made it 100% free in every aspect you would still be hemmed in, limited, and stuck in traffic. That is the nature of autos.
Car centric societies are jealous of the freedom which cycling brings and it’s why people blame cyclists for their traffic problems, try to pass laws restricting them, and gamers design infra which hems cyclists in on every side.
Why can’t he just ride in the lane?
Well he can. Legally in St. Catharines, and all of Canada, Tyler’s bicycle is a vehicle and he is legally allowed to occupy the full lane of travel. Which is why he is asking for the sign. Tyler knows what he can do. That’s not the problem. The problem is that people driving autos will make his life a living hell for exercising his rights. Because they are
Uneducated on the equal status of bicycles as vehicles.
Educated by auto ads that their auto is “like a family member,” and we all put our family before strangers.
Car culture breeds lazy, distracted, and passive driving.
Namely tyler doesn’t want to be harassed.
There has been Twitter mention to the authorities in charge of this project to take into consideration the needs of the cyclist before after the construction is completed. As it stands now the bridge is being built to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists as an afterthought.
There is a real problem with bicycle infra that project engineers, city planners, and cycling advocates like to pretend doesn’t exist.
All transportation engineers put every measure into insuring that autos can operate at maximum speed with safety. They put very little of this same safety culture into bicycle design. Everyone assumes all cyclists are going to operate at super slow speed. I can tell you from experience that cyclists do not, and most will not, operate at the speeds for which you are designing their infra.
You create unsafe places for cyclists, pass laws mandating that cyclists must use these unsafe facilities, and then scratch your heads and conduct million dollar research studies to figure out why cyclists keep dying after all that effort.
Go ride your bike!
I’m talking to you transportation engineers.
In the meantime. Can we put a little lean on the people in charge of the Burgoyne bridge in St.Catharines, Ontario and get Tyler P. the help he needs in creating space for cycling?
When it’s done it will have painted lanes at the edge
And on a highly trafficked bridge some paint on the road is completely unacceptable. If a cyclist can be harassed for safely controlling their lane. Then the city has a moral responsibility to create a protected space. Not just from auto’s but from the debris that they push into bike lanes. (It’s why I prefer to cycling in the travel lane. Those nice people in their autos keep them swept clean.)
Please contact the names listed and go to their FB page.
Nicely! Ask them to support cycling.
Do it for yourself, Do it for cycling, Do it for the environment, But above all!
A cyclist who uses lights, signals, and behaves as a predictable part of traffic doesn’t require bicycle specific infrastructure, some people would argue.
I would agree with them up to a point.
My views of a better culture for people don’t jive with bicycle specific infra (short for infrastructure) in dense urban area’s. Instead, I see these areas as perfect for true greening and humanizing public space.
The problem, as near as I can tell, is our cultural immersion in Robert Moses and his vision for the cities of tomorrow. Huge concrete jungles where everyone has a specific space and directions on how to operate in that space.
I hear this theme repeated back in transportation engineering. One webinar going so far as to suggest that trucks, motorcycles, and personal autos should each have their own specific lane.
It’s utter madness.
We don’t have space for each type of vehicle to have its own specific lane to operate in and we sure as hell shouldn’t confine people to “lane cages” in an attempt to regulate the mess that is humanity.
Looking back over the history of the rise of the DOT empire and their powerful influence over local governments; I begin to understand why cycling advocates have been wooed into this desire for bicycle specific infra in their neighborhoods. The propaganda is seductive.
I look over Streetsblog, People for Bikes, and League of American Cyclists literature and their love affair with bike lanes; I see people advocating for gilded cages.
You don’t need, nor should you want, a bike lane in dense urban areas. These are places where people should be free to mill around the neighborhood and shop. Pedal from one side of the street to the other as they run their errands. There should be trees, shrubs, food gardens, and benches to sit on in the middle of the road. Or at least on either side of a dedicated rail or tram line.
After speaking with the director of bicycle promotion in Japan, Mr. Hidetomo Okoshi, I left the North American Handmade Bicycle Show with a better vision of cycling and its future.
Mr. Okoshi explained to me that people in his country do not as a rule commute by auto to their jobs. Nor do they commute by bicycle. Instead they take the train and in their communities they get around by foot, bicycle, and auto. In that order of hierarchy. The people he explained do not travel far by bicycle. I asked him about bike lanes. He had an air of apprehension as he explained that Japanese do not need this as much as Americans because of their respect for each other. That is when the lightbulb hit.
Bike lanes do not create respect for cyclists anymore than sidewalks create respect for pedestrians. Communities which insist on bike lanes as a “friendly” way of incorporating cycling as a viable means of transportation aren’t doing anything to help the pedestrians in their communities. Bike lanes, by forcing cyclists off the usable portion of the roadway, enable motorists to speed and endanger both cyclists and pedestrians, not to mention themselves.
As was recently pointed out by Tim Cupery on my Facebook page who said:
it’s worth pointing out that edge-riding IS doing a favor to motorists, so they can continue to go the speed that they would prefer.
This is a key motive behind segregated infrastructure, and many cyclists think of themselves as second-class road users.
And he is right; Motorists do not slow down in the presence of bike lanes. If anything it only encourages them to speed.
How then are bike lanes heralded as a means of humanizing current infra? Because as I see it they aren’t. Instead I see places like downtown Louisville, Lexington, New York, and Portland as huge Robert Moses machines. Churning out the same style of precision engineering which treats people as machines or worse robots who are programmed to follow a specific flow.
Now some might get confused and understandably so, because bicycle infra when held up to car culture is confusing, over whether or not I support any infra at all!
The answer is YES!
But not the way you imagine it and not the way we are currently being sold.
My vision entails trains as mass transit over great distances and as high speed movement between fixed places. Walking and cycling as the normal means of transportation between shorter distances. Zoning which creates inclusive infrastructure and alleviates the homeless crisis, not exacerbate it. Neighborhoods where kids play on the street and tool around on their bicycles. E-assist pedal transport of heavy goods from a centralized location. More reliance on creative solutions and less dependence on the Moses era of thinking.
Bicycle highways which connect cities to each other are an excellent start to this vision. Zoning for the use of the areas around it to meet the needs of those cycling long distance is crucial.
But what do we do in the meantime?
We dismantle DOT or at the very least remove it from power as an oligarchy. Sorry that was a bit ambitious for step one. Let me start over.
We advocate for mandatory cycling education in all schools. Educating our children on how to operate their bicycles as a part of traffic.
We advocate for mandatory cycling education on all drivers licensing, re-licensing, and court appointed diversion programs.
(By following these first two steps we can effectively remove or at least significantly reduce cycling prejudice in one generation. Something to think about.)
We advocate for reduced speed limits in neighborhoods and dense urban areas including cities. 20 mph is plenty.
We advocate for mass transit and transitioning from Heavy Goods Vehicles a.k.a. tractor trailers to E-assist Heavy Goods Pedal Bikes.
We advocate for programs with local police to report bullying and dangerous motorist behavior.
We advocate for Greening our local communities with tree planting, food gardens, and shrubbery.
We advocate for repeal of mandatory bike lane use laws.
If we get this started we can all have nice things.
Or we can continue to have this.
Space is scarce without resorting to urban sprawl. Yet urban sprawl is exactly what layering bicycle culture over auto culture is creating. I hate #SneckDown as it 1. doesn’t actually change anything. 2. It’s a crappy way to “educate” people. 3. It is, in my own opinion, a throwback to Oliver Twist. “Please Sir! May I have some more?” We aren’t asking for our space, it is ours to begin with, we are demanding it back.
People who have much to gain from selling Bicycle Lanes shouldn’t be trusted as a source of unbiased opinion on the greatness of Bicycle specific infra.
This picture is a perfect example of gilded cages. It is a modern day version of separate but equal. Except that you aren’t treated as an equal. You are a bird in a cage and your freedom of movement is an illusion. Need to get to the shop in the middle of the other side of the street? Tough shit! Go down a block, make a U-turn, and then you will eventually reach your destination.