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Old 03-03-05, 06:23 PM   #1
genec
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Now I understand the differences in Bike Lane views (NOT a BL discussion)

This is NOT a Bike Lane thread... but one focused on the various "advocacy groups" supporting cyclists.

Please use this thread as one to discuss the current and future of Cycling Advocacy.

I just read the history of the transformation of the American Wheelman to the League of American Bicylists, and the creation of the group LABreform.

I rode with the Wheelman organization years ago, but not being much of a "joiner" type, never really kept abreast of the organization.

Now reading this interesting history, I see why some views are very polarized.

Throw CM into the mix and really stir the pot.

I learned my basic cycling in the mid 70's and frankly am rather disappointed at the current state of cycling. It used to be small independent shops... which seem to have migrated into "Super Stores" in some locations.

What do you think about the state of the advocacy groups, what about local cycling conditions, and do you think things can be better?
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Old 03-03-05, 06:29 PM   #2
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Locally, advocacy groups here do well enough. There are enough low income people to help puch efforts along as a safe, cheap method of transportation. My county is odd, with the highest median income, but one of the lowest weekly wage paying counties in South Carolina. Lots of old retired Yankees trying to run the place.

On the state level, we are fortunate to have a governor that is a cyclist. He even has an annual cross-state bike ride. (We're lucky SC is small). New, improved, or resurfaced roads are required to include bike lanes, excpet controlled access highways.

On a practical basis, it's far from where many cyclists think it should be.
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Old 03-03-05, 09:42 PM   #3
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The Thunderhead Alliance is a national organization pushing local bike groups to squelch any voice that's critical of "bike facilities." Thunderhead is pushing the organizations to change their by-laws so that the board has total control--board members select themselves and decide policy for the organization. Members get no voice in who becomes a board member or any vote on policy. These petty power grabs may be the future of "bike advocacy" in this country.

Thunderhead's Eleventh Commandment (as described by their critics) is "Thou shalt not criticize another's bike facilities plan."

The LAB was pursuing the same undemocratic course, but if the Lab Reform website is correct, the LAB is starting to open back up, at least a little. That's hopeful.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDan
. . . [In South Carolina,] new, improved, or resurfaced roads are required to include bike lanes, except controlled access highways. . . .


(Out of respect for genec, I'll leave my comments about bike lanes for the bike lane thread.)

Last edited by Daily Commute; 03-04-05 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 03-03-05, 10:37 PM   #4
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Great topic, Gene!

My thoughts...

No one can deny that there is money to be made in the area of designing, advising regarding, and building "cycling facilities". It's an industry. Many people in the industry are involved in "bike advocacy" (as opposed to cycling advocacy) because it helps their industry. (conversely, it's very easy to deny that money can be made in the area of cycling education - tcycling ed is definitely NOT an industry, LOL!)

Point out to them that their emperor has no clothes (i.e., cycling facilities, or at least bike lanes, ultimately cause more problems than they solve for cyclists), and they get very unhappy. Understandably so.

Many of these folks are good, well-meaning people. I know them. On its surface, because of the innate fear of being squished by a motor vehicle, the concept of cycling facilities that supposedly separate cyclists from motorists is understandably very appealing to cyclists. Few people really dig under the surface, or have been exposed to those who have. Few actually examine the question of whether facilities really provide the separation they promise, and, in particular, the assumed protection from being squished. I can't blame them for not wanting to hear that their gold-egg-laying goose needs to be killed. Once they're dug in and feeding their children with those eggs, it's practically impossible to deal with them rationally on the issues (it's hard enough to do so with folks who are not financially dependent on the facilities industry, as my experiences here make quite evident).

In our local advocacy group, sdcbc.org, (which I keep urging you to join), there is probably a typical mix in the membership. Some are hardcore pro-facility and some are somewhere in between. I'm a definite minority as a fairly staunch anti-BL board member. As you know, I believe bike lanes cause serious damage to cycling and cycling advocacy, particularly in terms of stifling the spread of vehicular cycling. And since I believe VC is the best thing for cycling since the wheel, I believe cycling advocacy should have nothing to do with them. But very few people understand my arguments, much less agree with me.

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Old 03-03-05, 10:42 PM   #5
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"In 2001, the instructor training program was seriously weakened by eliminating the prerequisite that instructor candidates pass Road 1, (the 10-hour abridged adult entry-level course) before being accepted into the training program, by making the written test open book and, in some cases, optional and by shortening the instructor seminar. A poorly-qualified Program Director was allowed to rewrite the instructor materials. Some of these problems have recently been rectified after bitter complaints by several long-time instructors."

http://www.labreform.org/history.html

FYI - In the Road 1 course I took recently, the test was closed book (I got 100%).

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Old 03-04-05, 04:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
What do you think about the state of the advocacy groups, what about local cycling conditions, and do you think things can be better?
I'm not familiar enough with Ottawa's cycling advocacy group(s) enough to comment in detail. I do have an observation on advocacy groups in general: while they mean well, most advocacy groups represent only one part of the intended population and thus do not represent all people who would fit in that population. This is true of cycling advocacy, gay rights, environmentalists, pro-public transit groups... few of them represent all the people they claim to speak for, and sometimes not even the majority.

In a few cases I have seen groups state, "We are fighting for X, but won't block Y because some of our members want that," but that is a rare case.
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Old 03-04-05, 09:55 AM   #7
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The largest disparity I see is between bicyclist advocates and bicycle advocates. To oversimplify a bit, the bicyclist advocates work to improve conditions for people who bike, particularly those who are already cycling; the bicycle advocates work to convert the motoring public to bicycling.

The bicyclist advocates who travel in the same circles as other experienced road cyclists, particularly older, more lawfully operating road cyclists, tend to have a pretty good understanding of the operational and legal issues of importance to the safety, convenience and access rights of frequent cyclists. The bicycle advocates, however, tend to be more inclined to cater to the social taboos of the non-cycling public as they attempt to lure non-cyclists onto bicycles. And in some cases, the bicycle advocates make political statements critical of the choice to travel by motor vehicle.

Bicyclist advocates often express concern that the activities of bicycle advocates may (a) perpetuate or exacerbate social taboos about cycling, particularly road cycling, by convincing the public that special or segregated facilities are always essential to make cycling adequately safe; (b) encourage the development of traffic control devices or segregated paths that conflict with the best practices of safe and efficient roadway bicycling; and (c) encourage motorist backlash against cyclists by framing mode choice in moral terms.

There is, of course, a wide range of cyclists who blend different levels of bicyclist and bicycle advocacy in their political and social activity. But I think a line can be drawn between those who prioritize the welfare of dedicated cyclists and those prioritize the reduction of motoring.
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Old 03-04-05, 11:02 AM   #8
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Good points.
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Old 03-04-05, 12:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan
Even the simplest things, like painting fire hydrants bright orange so cyclists are naturally drawn to them and run into them, are difficult to battle (in that case, the person who put up the proposition rarely used the facility in question, whereas I used it daily, and she still won't believe the case against it).
I really don't want to create a sub-thread not focused on the intereting primary subject at hand, but I have never heard of nor encountered this hydrant color issue. Can you explain more to me or send me a link or even private message so as not to disrupt this thread. Do I read right that a cyclist will crash into a bright hydrant since they may be drawn to bright colors?

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Old 03-04-05, 12:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
The Thunderhead Alliance is a national organization pushing local bike groups to squelch any voice that's critical of "bike facilities." Thunderhead is pushing the organizations to change their by-laws so that the board has total control--board members select themselves and decide policy for the organization. Members get no voice in who becomes a board member or any vote on policy. These petty power grabs may be the future of "bike advocacy" in this country.

Thunderhead's Eleventh Commandment (as described by their critics) is "Thou shalt not criticize another's bike facilities plan."

The LAB was pursuing the same undemocratic course, but if the Lab Reform website is correct, the LAB is starting to open back up, at least a little. That's hopeful.




(Out of respect for genec, I'll leave my comments about bike lanes for the bike lane thread.)

No problem... and thanks for that respect. I noticed another group last night too... I think it was called the American Cyclists... I'll have to look again. I think one of the biggest issues is that with all these different groups, there is no clear voice for cyclists...

The other side is I was not aware of any group except the Wheelmen... how many other cyclists that might want a voice know of any group at all. My LBS doesn't display any posters...

This seems like some sort of "silent cry."
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Old 03-04-05, 12:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genece
there is no clear voice for cyclists...
That's because, there is no clear voice for cyclists. That is, different cyclists are saying different things. Jefferey Hiles complained about this situation some 8 years ago when he first wrote "Listening to Bike Lanes". But how do you get around it? You either believe facilities help cyclists and cycling, or you think most of them (including almost all if not all bike lanes) hurt cyclists and cycling more than they help (if they help at all).

There is no resolution between the two sides, because the only thing we could potentially have in common is education. But facilities advocates are typically not very interested in education, probably because education points out the harm of facilities.
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Old 03-04-05, 09:15 PM   #12
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Very interesting article. Very believable and convincing.

It's not the first time an organization became more interested in increasing it's own power and forgot it's reason for existing. Ties to financial support always seem to be at the root of this kind of amnesia.
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Old 03-05-05, 08:29 AM   #13
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I notice that Planet Bike is a big donor to Thunderhead. It's too bad that the company is supporting an organization that tries to squish any membership-run local bike groups. I will avoid their products in the future.
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Old 03-05-05, 10:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
I notice that Planet Bike is a big donor to Thunderhead. It's too bad that the company is supporting an organization that tries to squish any membership-run local bike groups. I will avoid their products in the future.
To make your action more effective, please write/call Planet Bike and let them know why you're going to avoid their products. Even better, advocate that they switch their support to a more cyclist friendly organization.

Bruce Rosar
Who is a LABReform candidate for the League's Board of Directors
http://www.bikeleague.org/members/el...s2005-reg3.htm
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Old 03-05-05, 12:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwileyr
To make your action more effective, please write/call Planet Bike and let them know why you're going to avoid their products. Even better, advocate that they switch their support to a more cyclist friendly organization.

Bruce Rosar
Who is a LABReform candidate for the League's Board of Directors
http://www.bikeleague.org/members/el...s2005-reg3.htm

Thanks Bruce....I just joined LAB because of your influence....You're certainly one of the most knowledgeable & thoughtful posters on BikeForums.....(I once asked if you were a bike-policy librarian!).....If I get the chance, I'll be voting for you as a director.....


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Old 03-05-05, 03:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norton
Thanks Bruce....I just joined LAB because of your influence....
Welcome to the League!
Quote:
Originally Posted by norton
You're certainly one of the most knowledgeable & thoughtful posters on BikeForums
Thanks!
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Originally Posted by norton
If I get the chance, I'll be voting for you as a director.....
Great! Here is a link to a League page about the election, including which states will be voting this year.
Board Elections 2005
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