Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bicycles As Agents of Change

We all know that bikes are inherently stylish. Now, it seems, the Parisians have learned this and, along the way, refigured the way they interact with their city. All because of a for hire scheme that was, of course ridiculed when out it rolled.

On a related note, I lived in Berlin for a while and rode my bike nearly everywhere. I was, I thought, a remarkably safe cycling city and, indeed, compared with America it was cycling heaven. One example of the seriousness with which the Germans take cycling is that in the perennial debate over who is to blame for cycling accidents lycra louts or badly designed infrastructure, badly designed infrastructure gets the nod.

And, indeed, it is clear that dedicating state funds to the creation of workable cycling infrastructure leads to increases in cycling. Advanced cycling cities, like Copenhagen, have increased the cyclists safety with 92 "seriously" injured cyclists in 2010 as opposed to 1252 in 1996 (page 5).

Why do I bring this up? Well, on a list dedicated to all things bike, one of the members suggested that a segment of the city's bike path that is bedeviled by multiple road crossings be rejiggered in a way that removed the road crossings or otherwise hindered motorists freedom of movement. The response, for the areas alder as well as others on the list was that it is a given thaqt the end all and be all of transport planning is to never inconvenience motorists.

Which is another way of saying that the end all and be all of road planning is the reality of ever-expanding traffic jams or ever-expanding roadways.  Obviously roadways can only be ever-expanding if we gradually remove impediments buildings and people, which is to say recreate the city as an elaborate system of roadways with parking garages attached. (see also)


  1. Sometimes I get the impression that A lot of bike paths are designed by non riders, I go down one stretch where the bike path seems to randomly switch sides a four lane street, and crossing is almost impossible. But somewhere some city planner can brag about the miles of bike trails the city has, who cares whether they are useable.

    BTW did you see the latest David brooks column he seems to be telling mitt Romney to be more like Bruce Springsteen. I can only imagine how wired that will look if mitt really takes his advice.

  2. I think a lot of people underestimate the importance of bicycle infrastructure. I wouldn't feel as comfortable riding to work if I couldn't ride the bike path for most of the way.

  3. Yes the organization of bike paths is something of a disgrace. In Syracuse the only path was exactly 1/2 a block long and in the middle of nowhere. All the transport infrastructure right now is designed to not annoy motorists and, consequently, it often sucks. Except Portland and we must mock Portland to prove our realists bona fides.

    Alex, you would be surprised that no one or nearly no one reads this blog and, I ask that you take this half hearted attempt at marketing elsewhere.