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  1. #1
    just a commuter
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    Forester's talk: The Management of Bicycle Transportation

    John Forester spoke at Google's headquarters in Mountain View California, on the occasion of Bike To Work Day, celebrated May 17 2007 in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. He was part of our ongoing Tech Talks series of invited guest speakers on a variety of engineering (and other) topics.

    His topic was The Management of Bicycle Transportation. You can watch the video here.

    (Sorry, no bowtie. Ties scare people at Google )

  2. #2
    ... . Tmax1's Avatar
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    Is there a transcript avaiable?

    Video is blocked here at, uh, work.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    59 minutes long... I'll look at it later.

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    Senior Member LCI_Brian's Avatar
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    Can someone give a synopsis, I don't have 59 minutes to spare in my busy schedule!

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LCI_Brian
    Can someone give a synopsis, I don't have 59 minutes to spare in my busy schedule!
    Same old, same old. PM me and I can send an MP3 audio file.

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    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    How was his talk received? Did the geniuses at Google agree with what he had to say?
    ~Diane
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  7. #7
    just a commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    How was his talk received? Did the geniuses at Google agree with what he had to say?
    Certainly the geniuses liked it just fine, the rest of them had some questions though

    You can tell from the Q&A at the end that he raised a lot of issues that got a lot of people thinking. The Q&A time continued for another hour after the camera was turned off. Some listeners went away satisfied and some didn't. The discussion continued on internal cycling email lists, where some points were clarified and others were disputed.

    The company's culture is strongly driven by engineering criteria, analytics and empirical metrics. Forester's points on traffic engineering were well received because they were well supported by data. Some questioned the culturally specific applications, and weren't satisfied with answers of the form "USA isn't the Netherlands."

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    JRA
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsut
    Some questioned the culturally specific applications, and weren't satisfied with answers of the form "USA isn't the Netherlands."
    Yea, I'll bet.

    I'd be interested to know how Forester's psychological theories (such as cyclist inferiority phobia theory) were recieved.

    As we all know, Forester has impeccable credentials in the fields of psychology and social science.
    "It may even be that motoring is more healthful than not motoring; death rates were certainly higher in the pre-motoring age."- John Forester
    "Laws cannot be properly understood as if written in plain English..."- Forester defending obfuscation.
    "Motorist propaganda, continued for sixty years, is what has put cyclists on sidewalks." - Forester, sociologist in his own mind
    "'There are no rules of the road on MUPs.' -John Forester" - Helmet Head quoting 'The Great One'

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    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    The first bit of his talk was kind of interesting on how cities formed along fixed cargo transit facilities (water and rail) and then with the advent of the automobile and free roaming routes the city became obsolete.

    He handled the cyclists inferiority complex rather well as he did not use that term at all but rather stated that there were two possibilities, because the motoring establishment wanted us out of the way OR for misplaced concern for our safety such and such happened (laws, bike lanes and what ever else would fit in that mold.)

    It was kind of interesting as I got a better insight on how he got to the conclusions he has. As for me I am still skeptical and waiting for more and better studies on the subject.
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    genec genec's Avatar
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    I finally got a chance to listen to the whole thing... there really are no visuals in it, so audio was fine. (I watched and listened... no point in watching though).

    The one thing that stands out in that speech (beyond the words I have read so many times before) is the Cross study... the one thing that Forester insists defeats all Bike Lanes... and yet only he has a copy... grabbed as it were, off a table before it could be "buried."

    Why can't he make his copy public? Why can't the data in that study be brought before "the court of public opinion?' Why is it that only Forester has the only copy... and that it seems to represent the core of some of his anti-bike lane stance.

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    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car
    ...with the advent of the automobile and free roaming routes the city became obsolete.
    This is total hogwash! Like the bicycle itself, older pre-automobile cities or city cores are highly efficient both energy and space wise. The automobile did not make the city obsolete, but it certainly caused incredible damage to cities. Rediscovering the inner pre-automobile city should be the goal of every major metropolitan area in the world that doesn't want to be swallowed up in endless automobile congestion and pollution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    I finally got a chance to listen to the whole thing... there really are no visuals in it, so audio was fine. (I watched and listened... no point in watching though).

    The one thing that stands out in that speech (beyond the words I have read so many times before) is the Cross study... the one thing that Forester insists defeats all Bike Lanes... and yet only he has a copy... grabbed as it were, off a table before it could be "buried."

    Why can't he make his copy public? Why can't the data in that study be brought before "the court of public opinion?' Why is it that only Forester has the only copy... and that it seems to represent the core of some of his anti-bike lane stance.
    I suggest that you look up the literature. There are two Cross studies. The first was of car-bike collisions in Santa Barbara County, funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety, which is a fief of the California Highway Patrol. This area was convenient for Cross because he lives there, so he could examine every site without lengthy travel. That is the one that Cross presented to the California Statewide Bicycle Committee, and which was suppressed because I pointed out that it completely disproved the bikeway hypothesis. As I have often said, I received a copy, as did all present, and kept it. Once character recognition software became available, I posted a copy on my website, and it has been there for several years. Under Articles/Safety/Cross01.

    The second Cross study, with the widely distributed four state "national" sample, was made under contract DOT-HS-4-00982 with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Titled "A Study of Bicycle/Motor-Vehicle Accidents: Identification of Problem Types and Countermeasure Approaches." It was published in two volumes in September 1977. The technical report documentation page states: "No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Virginia."

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester
    As I have often said, I received a copy, as did all present, and kept it. Once character recognition software became available, I posted a copy on my website, and it has been there for several years. Under Articles/Safety/Cross01.
    Full link:
    http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/Safety/Cross01.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    This is total hogwash! Like the bicycle itself, older pre-automobile cities or city cores are highly efficient both energy and space wise. The automobile did not make the city obsolete, but it certainly caused incredible damage to cities. Rediscovering the inner pre-automobile city should be the goal of every major metropolitan area in the world that doesn't want to be swallowed up in endless automobile congestion and pollution.
    So what if older cities are efficient in terms of energy and space. The fact is that they are inefficient in terms of human needs. Most people would rather live and work elsewhere, and with automotive transportation they have the ability to better meet their desires. This is the world in which we cyclists live and operate; we need to work out how best to use and enjoy cycling in the world in which we live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA
    Yea, I'll bet.

    I'd be interested to know how Forester's psychological theories (such as cyclist inferiority phobia theory) were recieved.

    As we all know, Forester has impeccable credentials in the fields of psychology and social science.
    Don't be so silly. You need to recognize that issues of personal transportation involve quite serious consideration of social science principles.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester
    The second Cross study, with the widely distributed four state "national" sample, was made under contract DOT-HS-4-00982 with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Titled "A Study of Bicycle/Motor-Vehicle Accidents: Identification of Problem Types and Countermeasure Approaches." It was published in two volumes in September 1977. The technical report documentation page states: "No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Virginia."
    Link:
    http://www.worldcatlibraries.org/wcp...-item-purchase

  17. #17
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    Based on current trends in population and migration, more people will live urban areas then rural ones by 2008.
    I am a mutated sig Virus. Please put me in your sig so that I can continue to replicate and mutate, blah!.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeytoun
    Based on current trends in population and migration, more people will live urban areas then rural ones by 2008.
    Non sequitur???

    Context please...

    If, by the way, you're thinking about rural vs. urban roads, the definitions have more to do with immediate characteristics (frequency of intersections, lighting at night, etc.) rather than the type of area it's in. So you can have a "rural" road in the suburbs for example, and maybe even in the city (like a road going through Golden Gate park in San Francisco might be considered "rural" in these studies).

  19. #19
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester
    ...we need to work out how best to use and enjoy cycling in the world in which we live.
    The status quo is not immutable, and with increasing traffic congestion, global warming and higher levels of awareness of all the negative health effects caused by our dependence on automobiles - everything from respiratory problems caused by atmospheric emissions of combustion byproducts, to injury/fatality accidents, to groundwater contamination related to environmental releases of fuels from filling stations - not to mention foreign wars of imperialism to secure our future oil supply, it only makes good sense to reexamine our current dependence on and love affair with the personal motor vehicle.

    One of your most serious problems is your inability to see beyond 'the world in which we live' and to imagine something better.
    Last edited by randya; 05-25-07 at 07:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    The status quo is not immutable, and with increasing traffic congestion, global warming and higher levels of awareness of all the negative health effects caused by our dependence on automobiles - everything from respiratory problems caused by atmospheric emissions of combustion byproducts, to injury/fatality accidents, to groundwater contamination related to environmental releases of fuels from filling stations - not to mention foreign wars of imperialism to secure our future oil supply, it only makes good sense to reexamine our current dependence on and love affair with the personal motor vehicle.

    One of your most serious problems is your inability to see beyond 'the world in which we live' and to imagine something better.
    The question is not that of imagination; it is that of present reality and future prediction. I suggest to you that for the next three years, at least, barring a catastrophe such as a real war, cycling conditions will remain much the same. Therefore, there is no need for the cyclist to bother much about the future. I quite understand that conditions will change over the long term; they always have. But how they will change, and what effect those changes will have on cyclists, is unknown. Suppose that one effect is what you hope, a reduction in motoring. Well, from your point of view, that makes things better for cyclists, who will not really have to do anything different.

    In other words, whatever the future might bring, there's nothing that the cyclist need to do about it today, and since he can't predict very accurately what the changes will be and how the rest of society will handle them, there's nothing that he need plan to do.

    You evidently think differently, but if you do you have never presented a plan as to what to do about the future as far as cycling is concerned. I suppose, thinking about this discussion now, that you have the opinion that changes in bicycle transportation will cause the future to turn into what you hope for. All I can say is that at no time since the 1890s has bicycling had that amount of social power. I see no reason why it will in the near future.

  21. #21
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    The biggest problem with the automobile is that it isn't a Vespa. Why do people feel they need to cart around 4000lbs of totally uncool metal when 500lbs of very cool Vespa will do the trick?
    ~Diane
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  22. #22
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    John,

    I enjoyed your talk. However, I was wondering how you might address some concerns that a skeptical audience member might have regarding your talk's focus on cyclist behavior.

    Many cyclists who do ride properly still feel unsafe due to inappropriate behavior by motorists in the form of unsafe movements such as too-close passing at too-high speed, and feel extremely unwelcome in the travel lanes due to harassment from motorists, particularly in places where most lanes are narrow. These cyclists do not feel empowered to change this situation as individuals. What can or should be done by cyclist advocacy groups or by the government to reduce these discouraging events?

    I think the answer is important for vehicular cycling, because the bikeway proponents promise that they have a solution to this in the form of bikeways where cyclists cannot delay motorists and presumably will not or cannot be passed too closely, or which supposedly use pavement markings to educate motorists that cyclists belong on roadways. Bikeway proponents promise to "do something" for existing lawful cyclists; what proactive steps can vehicular cycling advocates or the government take to effectively address the discouraging effect of unfriendly motorists on existing roads? How can we better communicate our empathy to these upset cyclists and demonstrate that we have a strategy to address their concerns?

    - Steve Goodridge

  23. #23
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester
    All I can say is that at no time since the 1890s has bicycling had that amount of social power. I see no reason why it will in the near future.
    You don't live in Portland, or Vancouver BC, or Amsterdam, or Bogata, or any other city that has more than 1 or 2% bike usage. You're way too pessimistic about the future and apparently way too set in your beliefs to think 'outside the box' for even one instant.

  24. #24
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    mossy john can't demonstrate such a strategy.

    john, the bicycling transportation movement is really taking off, dude. haven't you been keeping up? you seem solidly stuck in the past.

    one fundamental point you're missing the boat on, though, mossy- most comtemporary bicycling advocates want to INCREASE bicycling, not reduce motoring.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    build it and they will ride.

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