Motor Mania, White Supremacists, and Bike Lanes

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What in the world could these three topics possibly have in common?

A lot actually.

On an evolutionary scale humans are not well adapted to motor vehicles. Which is why; after all the money poured into safety programs to make roads and cars safer; we still have an astonishing death toll and injury rate.

Technology has far outpaced our ability to adapt to the high rates of speed. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. But it certainly does mean we should be more judicious and realistic in our expectations.

The auto industry lobbyists have created a political environment which is designed to encourage auto use.

Where the roads are designed and engineered for a human pace, we will still find destructive drivers. It’s not the roads or even the cars which give us so much grief. It’s the people.

Which brings us to white supremacists. The desire to cluster in groups and classify people based on outward appearance is detrimental to our ability to evolve and move forward in society. As long as we think in terms of “them” and “those people” we are fucked.

White supremacists have an inherent taste for Ford Trucks. This isn’t by accident. Henry Ford was a classic white supremacist and anti-Semite. He purchased a newspaper for the sole purpose of having an editorial section which would “expose” the “Jewish Conspiracy” and expel both Jew and those who were Jewish sympathizers out of the country. It is worth mentioning that the editorials were based on a fictional story. But Henry Ford “believed” them to be true. He blamed his distaste for reading on his willful ignorance. Highly praised by Hitler, Henry Ford and is brand of vehicles were soon to become a symbol of nationalistic pride. Even their t.v. commercials, radio ads, print ads, and social media ads are worded to reinforce a sense of the “white” working man’s conservative pride.

When it comes to cyclists and harassing interactions with motorists, Ford Trucks rank high on the list of drivers most likely to harass and victimize someone riding a bicycle.

It is the supremacists desire to eliminate anything and anyone whom he/she perceives as a threat to their kind. Telling cyclists to behave under duress, to just “smile and wave” as some asshole comes along and threatens your life, is internalized racism against your own group. It’s a classic sexism that women deal with on a daily basis and men practice it on each other, most often when they are cyclists.

Which brings us to bike lanes.

I bet you’re wondering how I’m going to tie all this together. I hope I don’t disappoint.

Nobody likes to be harassed while exercising their basic rights. The desire to enjoy a stress free commute or bike ride is something that anyone who rides a bike desires. Even myself. Segregation is  a word which is often used by white supremacists and cyclists alike.

Each group has something in common. They all want to be separated from each other. Whites from blacks and auto drivers from cyclists.

Sharing the road in its basic sense is saying “To move forward in society, we must all get along.”

And it’s right. We can not reasonably separate (separation is a more appropriate word than segregation) everyone at every point in the road. There is some point where we are all going to have to get along. We don’t have to like each other but we can respect each other.

Choosing how you talk to someone is a huge part of that cohesiveness. Communicating by hand signals, revving engines, honking horns, and vocalization can all be used to harm or clearly express an intention. The former is most frequently seen in the social misfits of society i.e. the white supremacists. The later is to simply convey a message and show courtesy to your fellow road travelers.

Telling people that segregation isn’t going to solve their problems will continue to fall on deaf ears. If you don’t believe me just talk to an advocate for bicycle infrastructure. Telling them that segregation/separation can make motorist and cyclist interactions more strife filled will have them spouting off a litany of phrases which can almost word for word be matched to the speech of your average racist.

So how then can we bring together better infrastructure without the taint of racism?

  1. Remove all mandatory use laws from legislation.
  2. Remove all language which implies that bike infra is require, superior, or necessary for safe cycling.
  3. Educate drivers that they are required to yield to pedestrians and cyclists; when appropriate.
  4. Mandatory cycling education for drivers and students. This can be a classroom experience for those who are physically unable to cycle.
  5. Lower speed limits.
  6. Reconsider zoning laws to increase construction which promotes walking and biking as the main form of transportation.
  7. Quality Bikeways which give a sense of expected and respected to the cyclists who are using them.

A bikelane is a gutter paint strip. A bikeway is carefully thought out, designed, and engineered highway for the exclusive use of cyclists.

The majority of it will always boil down to education. Truly the best way for us to overcome systemic racism is education.

Education, Legislation, and Infrastructure.

I understand now why so many cyclists in the US and UK are being killed.

I understand now why so many cyclists are being killed. Cycling like you are in the Netherlands or Copenhagen will get you killed in other countries.

There are some false beliefs out there. One is that infrastructure requires mandatory use laws, the other is that the lack of bicycle specific infrastructure means you just ride willy nilly all over the road.

  1. Netherlands cycle tracks are, for as near as I can tell, complete and connected. Like any highway, they go exactly where the user wants or needs to go.
  2. This is not true for the UK and US.
  3. If you don’t have complete cycle tracks and those cycle tracks do not meet your needs, you ride on the public highway.
    1. When you ride on the public highway you operate according to the rules of the road.
    2. You do not filter on the passenger side of a vehicle. Unless you have a death wish or are uneducated in cycling safety.
    3. You filter forward using the rules of the road and yield to oncoming traffic on a two way street.
  4. The main reasons people are opposed to bicycle specific infra are:
    1. The Netherlands set a bad example by legally mandating the use of their bike paths. Even in the Netherlands, if you are being honest when you bring them up, they do not have perfect infra everywhere you go. They still have door zone bike lanes. I sometimes find them in videos of locals who post their cycling trips but there aren’t any video’s of the Netherlanders specifically railing against them. Here is a blog on the subject for the Netherlands: On road cycle lanes: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
    2. The reason this is often not considered an issue is because the Netherlands also have strict liability laws. So if a driver injures a cyclist by throwing the door open without looking, the cyclist (should they survive the experience) can rest assured that the police and public media are not going to further victimize them by questioning their right to be there. No one will ask if they were wearing a helmet (as though that could really protect you from having your head run over by 2 tons of machine). No one will question the color of your clothes. The cyclists in the Netherlands have the homefield advantage, even in the face of crappy infra. Their medical bills are promptly paid and they get to go on with life as usual.

Bike specific infra (in the UK and US) is often a painted line on the ground. More often this painted line on the ground places the cyclist out of the driver’s field of vision. With a very narrow margin of passing clearance. In many ways it’s like we forget that often touted slogan of “3 feet minimum” to pass. Our engineers do not take safe passing into account when painting bike lanes. The faster the traffic the wider the bike lane should be.

  1. We often overestimate a driver’s area of vision as extending from the front side windows forward. The average driver does not drive with a 90 degree arc of vision. The average driver drives distracted. This is often compounded with age and limited physical mobility which makes it difficult to turn the head and look to the left and right as well as over the shoulder.
  2. To avoid a drivers blind spots always put yourself directly in front of the driver when operating your bicycle. The Dutch/Netherlands started (as near as I can tell) this idea of hugging the curb. Which is easier to do if you are operating at a snails pace.
  3. So if you are riding like the Dutch/Netherlands (think hugging the edge or weaving haphazardly in and out of traffic, also those box style turns where you cross like a pedestrian, honorable mention to filtering forward to the front of the line), if you ride like this, on public highways, you are riding with a death wish.
  4. The Netherlands have taken into consideration that motor traffic occupies a great deal of space and they have adjusted their light signals to accommodate cyclists at intersections.  
    Which as you can see from the video, still needs a lot of tweaking. It’s o.k. to let loose on all sides for cyclists but not for cars? Come on! Where is the fairness in that? 😉

I’ve watched several videos of average people in the Netherlands, they are catching the film my ride fever too, cycling in the Netherlands, Copenhagen, and the Dutch. They do all of these things. (See this video for a full understanding of what I’m talking about:

I’ve also had the opportunity to read their laws and it is expressly illegal to haul passengers on bike racks. You will see a lot of law breaking in the video’s promoting cycling in the Netherlands.

If the Netherlands did away with the mandatory use laws this would solve the problem of faster cyclists running over pedestrians and slower cyclists. (This is a hot button topic in the Netherlands.)

Remember the Netherlands also have fast club rides. I feel very strongly that those cyclists do not belong on bike paths with slower moving traffic.

There will be the usual stupid comment: “Oh you just want children to cycle on heavily trafficked fast moving roads!”

No, I don’t. What I want is for there to be no heavily trafficked fast moving roads. Any roads that are used to swiftly move people from town to town should be limited access and built to those standards. All other roads should be built to accommodate all other road users regardless of vehicle type. All roads should be safe for foot traffic above and beyond anyone else’s needs.

When we build communities that are based on people walking, then we will have a community that is safe for cyclists of all ages.

I, as a responsible parent, taught my children how to cycle safely on the only road that took us to our destination.

I’m not the only parent out there who understands where the real risks are to riding in traffic. This is an old article but it clearly shows where the stinkin’ thinkin’ comes from and if you yourself don’t know, allow me to state it plainly.

UK father commutes kids to school by bicycle. Stopped by police.

1. Cyclists obey the rules of the road. Overtaking through intersections on the passenger side is illegal because it is dangerous. You wouldn’t do it in a car, don’t do it on a bicycle.

2. Motorists obey the rules of the road. Treat cyclists just like you would any other vehicle out there on the road. Change lanes to pass and yield right of way when legally required. Do not create confusion by yielding right of way when not legally required to do so.

For both Cyclists and Drivers, use sound judgement and know your transportation codes and laws before heading out. Always leave at least 10min early. You will never be late and find that your commute is much more relaxing when you don’t feel pressed for time.

Segregation and Cycling

“When we think of segregation, what often comes to mind is apartheid South Africa, or the American South in the age of Jim Crow—two societies fundamentally premised on the concept of the separation of the races. But as Carl H. Nightingale shows us in this magisterial history, segregation is everywhere, deforming cities and societies worldwide.”

Quote from: Segregation A global history of divided cities by Carl H. Nightingale

 

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Edmund Burke

 

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Cycling was the first sport to break the race barrier. 

Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor (Indiana, 26 November 1878 – Chicago, Illinois, 21 June 1932) was an American cyclist who won the world 1 mile (1.6 km) track cycling championship in 1899 after setting numerous world records and overcoming racial discrimination. Taylor was the first African-American athlete to achieve the level of world champion and only the second black man to win a world championship—after Canadian boxer George Dixon.

Major Taylor was a champion in a renowned sport long before baseball became the national past time. So when you think of the first sport to have mixed race, Think Cycling. Not Baseball.

For more history on Major Taylor visit The Unknown Story of “The Black Cyclone”.

Cycling was the first at many innovations.

Because of the bicycle we have the Automobile.

Because of the bicycle we have Motorcycles.

Because of the bicycle we have Airplanes.

Cars, motorcycles, and airplanes owe their origins to the bicycle and bicycle mechanics.

You can read more here: The Bicycle Revolution.

Bicycles are why we have roads. 

The “Good Roads” movement was begun by cyclists and carried forward by the automobile enthusiasts.

You can read more here: Roads were not built for cars.

Origins

Out of one came many. Modern man and the varied races we have on this earth all owe their origins to one common ancestor. Our first ancestors were not Caucasian.

You can read more on this subject here: What DNA Says About Human Ancestry—and Bigotry.

In the same manner that we as a people all had one common origin, So too our transportation.

Separate but equal

“The legitimacy of laws requiring segregation of blacks was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537. The Supreme Court sustained the constitutionality of a Louisiana statute that required railroad companies to provide “Separate but equal” accommodations for white and black passengers and prohibited whites and blacks from using railroad cars that were not assigned to their race.”

“The issue of whether public facilities may be segregated based on race first arose in the context of transportation, not education.  In the 1896 case of Plessy v Ferguson, the Supreme Court concluded that a Louisiana law requiring whites and blacks to ride in separate railroad cars did not violate the Equal Protection Clause.  In an opinion that reads as though written by someone from Mars, Justice Brown wrote that the law did not “stamp the colored race with a badge of inferiority” and that any such suggestion is “soley because the colored race chooses to place that construction on it.”  In a famous and eloquent dissent in Plessy, Justice John Harlan argued, “Our Constitution is color blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among its citizens.”

Exploring Constitutional Conflicts

Separate but not equal

People of color were forced to live in sub-standard conditions. Forced to travel further to reach their destination. Forced to use separate facilities. All in the name of Safety. It wasn’t safe to allow black men around white women. They might rape them. It wasn’t safe to allow a black person to drink from the same fountain. They might transfer a disease. It was believed that blacks in the neighborhood would drive down property values. Blacks were kept separate because deep down they were viewed as inferior.

Equal and not separated

We know now that such ideology was based on prejudice and ignorance. We have a group of people who fought hard and made many sacrifices to be given their proper place in society.

You can read more about this here:

Separate facilities are inherently unequal.

Racial segregation in the United States.

Some things just don’t change

Now we are told that bicycles are a hazard on the roadway. That it is a safety concern. That it is for our own best interest to be shuffled off to the side. Segregated from other road users. Motorists don’t like us. We are viewed as inferior. Separate facilities are called for, for our own good. The roads need to remain pure and free of anything that isn’t an automobile.

And just like the origins of our first ancestors, for whom we owe our very existence. The origins of our transportation are seen as inferior and unsafe.

seg·re·ga·tion
noun
 
  1. the action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, to segregate is defined as to separate or set apart from others; isolate or to require, often with force, the separation of a specific racial, religious, or other group.

The problem isn’t us

“Safer Streets? Yes, Please!
A new report by the League of American Bicyclists reveals that our cities need bike lanes and protected routes more than ever. Of the 628 cycling-related fatalities studied, most were caused by careless or inattentive drivers—something dedicated cycling lanes would help alleviate.”

 

You can read the article here: Bicycling Magazine.

The problem isn’t us. The problem is you. We are the ones who are punished for your mistakes.

Why Bike Lanes are a Bad Idea.

Bike lanes. The good, The bad, The ugly.

“Studies of the Effects of Bike Lanes
Studies of bike lanes have established that:
• motorists give slightly less clearance when passing a cyclist in a bike lane compared to passing a cyclist in the same lane ;
• bicyclists position themselves on average in the middle of a 5 ft bike lane immediately adjacent to on-street parking, within reach of opening doors of parked cars (Hunter and Stewart 1999);”

Bicycle Driving

Bike lanes are more dangerous than regular traffic lanes

Dangerous bike lane

Dangerous “Protected” bike lane

Another bad “Protected” bike lane

Culture, Education, and Effective training. 

Are the best possible solutions to a relatively minor problem.

The loss of life is always deeply troubling. We want to fix it and make it better. I propose that we strike at the heart of the problem and stop addressing the symptoms. For every cyclist killed, hundreds more are killed in automobile only collisions.

So let’s fix the real problem.

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