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  1. #1
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Who is the "expert?"

    Lots of mention has been made of cycling experts.

    Lots of mention has been made by those who dispute that claim.

    Who is right?

    I think there is a lot of discussion to be made concerning accomodating cyclists in the U.S. After all, we have the internet, a sort of "Gutenburg's Press" of the modern age. Anyone can speak up, and that's good.

    What say you?

    (Is it possible we have truth on more than only one side?)
    No worries

  2. #2
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Isn't the only One True expert John Forester? To think anything else would be superstition.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  3. #3
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    Isn't the only One True expert John Forester? To think anything else would be superstition.
    In the spirit of the original post, the answer would, of course, be "no."
    No worries

  4. #4
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    The basic problem that I see is that traffic bicycling, partially by design and partially by circumstance, is mostly an ad hoc activity in terms of required and organized skill sets. Most people here, you, LBM, me, and most others have basically learned traffic cycling from experience with some guidance from books and the internet. If there is any measure of expertise, IMO, that measure would be experience. If you have been traffic cycling for a while and haven't given up from a perception of danger or intimidation, then you definitely have a skill set which can be equated with expertise.

    The only problem with my view is that measuring expertise by using a measure of experience means that traffic cycling is basically an apprenticeship activity which automatically means that newer cyclists who might have good ideas cannot have those ideas correctly evaluated unless someone with more experience has explicitly tried and rejected the idea. In other words, there is a bunch of trails through the forest, but nobody has a full map.

    Another problem with this situation is that the "experts" get too attached to their ideas (possibly a "not invented here" syndrome) and cannot give an accurate evaluation of the ideas of other "experts". It's a "I've got my trail through the forest and its the best thing since sliced bread so any other trail through the forest is necessarily flawed". I see a lot of this here, both in the descriptions of the skill set involved as well as in the philosophies used as a basis for advocacy.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  5. #5
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    my feeling on one purported 'expert' is

    with his basis for contemporary american road cycling based on a model of 1950's British roads and drivers, his notions of bike infrastructure rooted in early 1970's plans for accomodations, and his mistaken impression of american cyclists split into two camps only, the competant and the incompetant,

    that guy is NOT up to date and NOT an expert, sorry.

    A ranting, quixotic lunatic, perhaps, but an expert, hardly.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 07-21-07 at 12:37 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan View Post
    Lots of mention has been made of cycling experts.

    Lots of mention has been made by those who dispute that claim.

    Who is right?

    I think there is a lot of discussion to be made concerning accomodating cyclists in the U.S. After all, we have the internet, a sort of "Gutenburg's Press" of the modern age. Anyone can speak up, and that's good.

    What say you?

    (Is it possible we have truth on more than only one side?)
    I'm not sure I understand what your post/question is. Do you mean "who is right" or "who are the experts". That question seems more in line with the opening remarks. I'm also assuming you mean "expert in cycling" from a traffic engineering, road, route, and trail design perspective and not "expert in cycling" in the way that Lance A, Sheldon Brown, Grant Peterson, or Cycle America are experts.

    There are allot of experts with convincing credentials.

    Forrester would certainly be among them, but so would the people at LAB, Adventure Cycling, Rails to Trails Conservancy, Thunderhead Alliance, Bikes Belong Staff, it's required by law for state DOT's to have bicycle coordinators..they should count (but quality may vary), Oberstar and Blumenauer should make any short list, my city and two adjacent to mine have hiried different "expert" consulting firms to help with their bicycle planning, we have a local transit non-profit group with a full time bicycle specialist who I would consider an expert, and in my region we have a full time professional bicycle advocate who lobby's federal, state, and local government to influence cycling laws, grants, and regulation. All experts.

    It's not requiried that experts agree with each other. I can't think of a single field where that's the case. Just ask the "experts" in National Security (Iraq), Astronomy (Pluto), Cancer (stem cells), or anything else. So, the "Who's Right" question seems out of place.

    Scot

  7. #7
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    This thread has me contemplating how different the various place Ive lived / commuted
    have been. Now I can add a chapter on the WPB area of S. Florida which is by far the
    most 'different' (??)than what Im used to.
    All of these places have required a different style of riding than the one before.
    An "Expert' is anyone who can adapt and whos quantum thought process would lead
    them to believe that no two places are alike and no single type of riding or ideology will
    encompass all of those different situations.
    At the risk of sounding arrogant.....I am the only 'expert' I listen to.

  8. #8
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    Sheldon Brown is an expert. other than that, I am an expert on my route.
    Last edited by rando; 07-21-07 at 10:54 AM.
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

    Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me

  9. #9
    JRA
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    Senior Member JRA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    Who is right?
    Who is right about what?

    There is no way to answer the question unless it is made more specific.


    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    Lots of mention has been made of cycling experts.

    Lots of mention has been made by those who dispute that claim.
    I'm not sure what you're driving at.

    But if you're implying that VC-ism is a brand of cycling expertise, then I'd agree-- that's part of what VC-ism is-- VC-ism is indeed a brand-- a very poorly defined and poorly marketed brand, to be sure, but a brand nonetheless.

    If you're further implying that some people have a very low opinion of the VC brand, I'd say you're right on.

    If VC-ism were just a brand of expertise, then it might be possible to answer the question of whether VC-ism has any validity (whether VC-ism is right), but VC-ism is also a brand of political opinion (which requires value judgements), for which there is no right or wrong, only bias and preference.

    In my personal opinion:
    • VC-ism is very right about some things: most importantly, the fact that it's possible to ride a bicycle safely on the road and the assertion that, generally, the most effective way to get places on a bicycle is to ride on the road.
    • VC-ism is very wrong about some things: the whole 'the only way to ride is VC' load of cow manure; the 'anyone who disagrees with us is stupid, mentally defective or otherwise a social deviant load of BS; and, especially, the belief that John Forester knows jack about psychology or social science. It should be obvious to anyone that, regardless of whatever expertise JF may have in the fields of bicycle physics and engineering (where his expertise is far from insignificant), that John Forester doesn't know squat about psychology and his understanding of social science is quite limited (and greatly influenced by his biases). The importance John Forester gives to his ridiculous cyclist inferiority phobia theory is laughable, as are Forester's Captain Queeg-like 'the world is against me/us' conspiracy theories.

    John Forester is truly an expert in some aspects of cycling. Unfortunately, he has chosen not to stick with what he knows. His expertise has come to be defined by those things about which he doesn't know squat, by things that are a matter of preference and opinion, and by his truly insulting, condescending style. Some think criticism of Forester is unjustified ("poor John Forester" ). I disagree. As far as I'm concerned, John Forester's repugnant behavior, his incessant personal attacks on those with the audacity to disagree with is wacky theories, has not gotten near the criticism it deserves.


    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    I think there is a lot of discussion to be made concerning accomodating cyclists in the U.S. After all, we have the internet, a sort of "Gutenburg's Press" of the modern age. Anyone can speak up, and that's good.

    What say you?
    It's true that the internet has provided a medium for the exchange of ideas that has, in some cases, allowed ordinary people to come up with solutions and answers that have alluded the experts. But that kind of thing usually takes a great number of normal people. I severely doubt that BikeForums A&S has enough posters for such a thing to occur.

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    (Is it possible we have truth on more than only one side?)
    I think it's not just possible. I think it's likely.

    The VC brand of expertise has part of the truth. But it doesn't have the whole truth - not even close.
    Last edited by JRA; 07-21-07 at 02:23 PM.
    "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'

  10. #10
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scot_Gore View Post
    It's not requiried that experts agree with each other.
    Exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scot_Gore View Post
    So, the "Who's Right" question seems out of place.
    Given the first quote of yours above, the "Who's Right" question seems quite appropriate.

    The variety and experience of cyclists on these forums makes this medium the perfect place to pose such a question. The answers that follow can only cause us to gather more understanding than before.
    No worries

  11. #11
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA View Post
    The VC brand of expertise has part of the truth. But it doesn't have the whole truth - not even close.
    Hence, we have a discussion.

    What would the search for solutions be without discussion?
    No worries

  12. #12
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    One of the problems is expert in what kind of cycling:

    Recreational trail riding
    Mountain biking
    Racing and Tri-athletes
    Side path biking
    Bike lane biking
    Road (club) riding
    BMX
    Kids cycling (Safe Routes To School)
    Utilitarian transportation cycling
    Touring
    (I am probably forgetting some groups.)

    Outside the machine all these sub groups use, there is very little in common. So the first question is should the expert we recognize try and unite as many cycling groups as they can or should each group promote it’s own expert and cause at the expense of the other groups?

    I will also mention that I tried to order the list according to popularity, which might have some barring on wither we should unite or fight for our own special interests.
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  13. #13
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car View Post
    I will also mention that I tried to order the list according to popularity, which might have some barring on wither we should unite or fight for our own special interests.
    A very crucial point.

    But how?

    Don't we all agree on many points?

    Isn't it the same problem everyone faces in politics?

    From what I've gathered in these forums, people unite on certain issues, but split on others.

    Yet we all agree about the freedom to ride a bicycle for transportation, if we choose.
    No worries

  14. #14
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan View Post
    A very crucial point.

    But how?

    Don't we all agree on many points?

    Isn't it the same problem everyone faces in politics?

    From what I've gathered in these forums, people unite on certain issues, but split on others.

    Yet we all agree about the freedom to ride a bicycle for transportation, if we choose.
    The freedom to ride a bike for transportation is what is in the minority, the most at stake issue to be lost and the issue with the least amount of sympathetic supporters (as opposed to riding for fun and exercise.) Most people still donít get that a bikeís speed efficiency falls somewhere near a car or a bus for urban transit.

    Lets say we had some agreement on the bike lane point. The trail riders and Mt bikers would want bike lanes to the trails, the kids would want bike lanes to school, the rodies would want bike lanes on the secondary country roads, the transportation cyclist would want bike lanes on or paralleling major urban arterials and the touring cyclists would want bike lanes on the major highways connecting cities. Basically there is no overlap on the detail even if there is an agreement on a general point.

    The general issue is freedom to ride a bicycle. Iíll even take that one step further by adding the freedom to ride your bicycle from your front door without requiring the use of a car to take it some place else that is nice to ride. This is similar too but not identical to using a bicycle for transportation.

    Since I personally think the different groups should unite for the most effectiveness and therefore it is the responsibility of the bike advocates to make sure every group gets something. This is somewhat easy as trails are fairly expensive and signed bike routes and bike lanes are relatively cheap. So as long as you can get some money for the transportation side of things you can get a lot of mileage for the buck.

    As in a lot of things it is how effectively one can wield public and political support.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
    The basic problem that I see is that traffic bicycling, partially by design and partially by circumstance, is mostly an ad hoc activity in terms of required and organized skill sets. Most people here, you, LBM, me, and most others have basically learned traffic cycling from experience with some guidance from books and the internet. If there is any measure of expertise, IMO, that measure would be experience. If you have been traffic cycling for a while and haven't given up from a perception of danger or intimidation, then you definitely have a skill set which can be equated with expertise.

    The only problem with my view is that measuring expertise by using a measure of experience means that traffic cycling is basically an apprenticeship activity which automatically means that newer cyclists who might have good ideas cannot have those ideas correctly evaluated unless someone with more experience has explicitly tried and rejected the idea. In other words, there is a bunch of trails through the forest, but nobody has a full map.

    Another problem with this situation is that the "experts" get too attached to their ideas (possibly a "not invented here" syndrome) and cannot give an accurate evaluation of the ideas of other "experts". It's a "I've got my trail through the forest and its the best thing since sliced bread so any other trail through the forest is necessarily flawed". I see a lot of this here, both in the descriptions of the skill set involved as well as in the philosophies used as a basis for advocacy.
    Brian's statement is accurate as far as it goes, but it is entirely inadequate. To be an expert in bicycle transportation requires knowledge and understanding of a wide field of facts and science. Transportation, particularly urban transportation; urban patterns; optics; human factors; bicycle operation; bicycle mechanics; psychology; governmental operations; to name some.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    my feeling on one purported 'expert' is

    with his basis for contemporary american road cycling based on a model of 1950's British roads and drivers, his notions of bike infrastructure rooted in early 1970's plans for accomodations, and his mistaken impression of american cyclists split into two camps only, the competant and the incompetant,

    that guy is NOT up to date and NOT an expert, sorry.

    A ranting, quixotic lunatic, perhaps, but an expert, hardly.
    1950s British roads and drivers? Never experienced these. 1970s plans for bikeways? Indeed, and the same arrangements and designs apply today. American cyclists split into two camps, competent and incompetent? While this is one of the several dividing lines, these are not two camps.

    Not up to date? No facts there; you need to present new facts with which I am unfamiliar, or new opinions that should supersede mine.

    By the way, two camps? Yes, indeed, the ranting Bekologist camp and that of more reasonable discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scot_Gore View Post
    I'm not sure I understand what your post/question is. Do you mean "who is right" or "who are the experts". That question seems more in line with the opening remarks. I'm also assuming you mean "expert in cycling" from a traffic engineering, road, route, and trail design perspective and not "expert in cycling" in the way that Lance A, Sheldon Brown, Grant Peterson, or Cycle America are experts.

    There are allot of experts with convincing credentials.

    Forrester would certainly be among them, but so would the people at LAB, Adventure Cycling, Rails to Trails Conservancy, Thunderhead Alliance, Bikes Belong Staff, it's required by law for state DOT's to have bicycle coordinators..they should count (but quality may vary), Oberstar and Blumenauer should make any short list, my city and two adjacent to mine have hiried different "expert" consulting firms to help with their bicycle planning, we have a local transit non-profit group with a full time bicycle specialist who I would consider an expert, and in my region we have a full time professional bicycle advocate who lobby's federal, state, and local government to influence cycling laws, grants, and regulation. All experts.

    It's not requiried that experts agree with each other. I can't think of a single field where that's the case. Just ask the "experts" in National Security (Iraq), Astronomy (Pluto), Cancer (stem cells), or anything else. So, the "Who's Right" question seems out of place.

    Scot
    Many "experts" with "convincing credentials"? The trouble is, credentials aren't credible. Take the credentials in bicycle transportation issued by the Federal Highway Administration as the result of taking the FHWA courses in bicycle transportation. The FHWA's students have learned how to apply the FHWA and AASHTO bikeway standards in the approved way. That's true of most bike planners. Since the standards have always been wrong, having originally been designed to make motoring more convenient by discriminating against cyclists, credentials based on naive knowledge of such standards are worthless.

  18. #18
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester View Post
    ...By the way, two camps? Yes, indeed, the ranting Bekologist camp and that of more reasonable discussion.

    Good one!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA View Post

    much snipped

    If VC-ism were just a brand of expertise, then it might be possible to answer the question of whether VC-ism has any validity (whether VC-ism is right), but VC-ism is also a brand of political opinion (which requires value judgements), for which there is no right or wrong, only bias and preference.

    In my personal opinion:
    • VC-ism is very right about some things: most importantly, the fact that it's possible to ride a bicycle safely on the road and the assertion that, generally, the most effective way to get places on a bicycle is to ride on the road.
    • VC-ism is very wrong about some things: the whole 'the only way to ride is VC' load of cow manure; the 'anyone who disagrees with us is stupid, mentally defective or otherwise a social deviant load of BS; and, especially, the belief that John Forester knows jack about psychology or social science. It should be obvious to anyone that, regardless of whatever expertise JF may have in the fields of bicycle physics and engineering (where his expertise is far from insignificant), that John Forester doesn't know squat about psychology and his understanding of social science is quite limited (and greatly influenced by his biases). The importance John Forester gives to his ridiculous cyclist inferiority phobia theory is laughable, as are Forester's Captain Queeg-like 'the world is against me/us' conspiracy theories.

    John Forester is truly an expert in some aspects of cycling. Unfortunately, he has chosen not to stick with what he knows. His expertise has come to be defined by those things about which he doesn't know squat, by things that are a matter of preference and opinion, and by his truly insulting, condescending style. Some think criticism of Forester is unjustified ("poor John Forester" ). I disagree. As far as I'm concerned, John Forester's repugnant behavior, his incessant personal attacks on those with the audacity to disagree with is wacky theories, has not gotten near the criticism it deserves.

    The VC brand of expertise has part of the truth. But it doesn't have the whole truth - not even close.
    JRA claims: "VC-ism is very wrong about some things: the whole 'the only way to ride is VC' load of cow manure." Considering that vehicular cycling concerns only riding on the road, JRA is correct in his claim, but his claim is irrelevant. Vehicular cycling is riding according to the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles. Undoubtedly, there are other ways of cycling on the road that are not in accordance with the rules of the road. Some ways disobey the rules of the road; does JRA advocate those ways? Some ways simply give up some of the rights that apply to drivers of vehicles, such as the right to make a left turn in the vehicular way. That leaves the cyclist able to use the pedestrian method, which is lawful but is generally less effective. Does JRA advocate giving up some rights? While vehicular cycling is not the only way (which supports JRA's claim), it is the best way.

    JRA claims: "especially, the belief that John Forester knows jack about psychology or social science. It should be obvious to anyone ... that John Forester doesn't know squat about psychology and his understanding of social science is quite limited (and greatly influenced by his biases)." Well, bicycle advocates have for decades been tying themselves in psychological knots trying to justify their unyielding advocacy of the specific system that was specifically designed by motorists to make motoring more convenient, with the result that it discriminates against cyclists. My applications of psychology and social science to which you object have been to explain this paradoxically absurd behavior. So far as I know, my explanation is the only one that has been advanced to explain this paradoxically absurd behavior. JRA and the other people who object to this explanation do so not because it is inaccurate, but because it accurately describes the motives for their bikeway advocacy. Instead of advocating bikeways, people who care for the welfare of cyclists ought to be advocating vehicular cycling as the proper method and for governmental action to properly accommodate vehicular cyclists.

  20. #20
    Conservative Hippie
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    In my book there are no "experts," but there are quite a few qualified "authorities." To me there's a difference.

    Qualified by what? Experience and knowledge.

    Some are more qualified than others.
    Last edited by CommuterRun; 07-22-07 at 02:03 PM.

  21. #21
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester View Post
    [All of it sniped]
    So you are saying that we should all fight for our own special interest then?
    Cycling Advocate
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car View Post
    So you are saying that we should all fight for our own special interest then?
    Of course it is natural for people to advocate their own interests. Therefore, your statement carries little meaning. However, when considering bicycle transportation in American society, it is obvious to a well-informed person that, when considering the welfare of cyclists operating on the roadway, they should operate as drivers of vehicles. That is so obvious that many of you so operate. It is therefore also just as obvious that government and society should arrange their policies to properly accommodate such operation. However, it is plainly obvious that you bicycle advocates fail to consider the welfare of cyclists in your pursuit of some other goal, most probably reducing motoring, and oppose governmental and social action to do what is necessary to correct the defective policies that cause defective operation concerning bicycle transportation. A proper policy regarding bicycle transportation should be based on the welfare of cyclists, not on any other consideration.

  23. #23
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester View Post
    Of course it is natural for people to advocate their own interests. Therefore, your statement carries little meaning. However, when considering bicycle transportation in American society, it is obvious to a well-informed person that, when considering the welfare of cyclists operating on the roadway, they should operate as drivers of vehicles. That is so obvious that many of you so operate. It is therefore also just as obvious that government and society should arrange their policies to properly accommodate such operation. However, it is plainly obvious that you bicycle advocates fail to consider the welfare of cyclists in your pursuit of some other goal, most probably reducing motoring, and oppose governmental and social action to do what is necessary to correct the defective policies that cause defective operation concerning bicycle transportation. A proper policy regarding bicycle transportation should be based on the welfare of cyclists, not on any other consideration.
    Ah yes the welfare of transportation cyclists, your major concern, which is like being concerned for the safety of Audi A4 (a top safety pick car) drivers by offering only them a special driving safety course. Transportation cyclists are a fairly safe bunch as is and represent only ~2% of the cycling population and that is the focus of your issues? And lets see effective out reach to the transportation cyclists is primarily through bike clubs so those that are transportation cyclists and bike club members is ~0.008% with those actually taking the course would be something like 0.0002% of the cycling population. So somehow magically doing something for 0.0002% of the cycling population is supposed to equate doing something for the general cycling population.

    So when people like me bring up the question what about other groups that are over represented in the crash stats such as SUVs? The response is something like well they would be safer if they were driving an Audi and every kind of driver would benefit from a special driving safety course. On one hand you canít disagree with that logic but on the other hand people are not trading in their SUVs for an Audi and no one is marketing a safety course to SUV owners. All your grandiose words fail to make one bit of difference to segments of the population that represent a significant portion of the bicycle crash statistics. One significant group in bicycle crash stats are kids and nothing you are doing is improving their welfare. Saying they should trade in their sidewalk riding habits for another style without any sort of empowerment is just empty talk and is not improving the welfare of cyclists.
    Cycling Advocate
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  24. #24
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john
    However, it is plainly obvious that you bicycle advocates fail to consider the welfare of cyclists
    What a load of hooey from a so-called 'expert'
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  25. #25
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    In practice, expert is a relative term.

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