Old paradigm/new paradigm thinking in vehicular cycling advocacy
(this is getting some thoughts out I have about the nature of vehicular cycling advocacy and will be a work in progress)
Vehicular cycling is the concept of riding a bike according to the rules of the road for vehicles.
what is vehicular cycling advocacy? Advocating the right to ride a bike according to the rules of the road for vehicles.
Imagine if vehicular cycling advocacy was a grand success, the public saw 'the light' about the ridiculously short trips they undertake by bike, and all of a sudden 28 percent of trips in america under a mile were undertaken by bike, or the nearly fifty percent of commutes that are less than six miles in america were undertaken by bike.
a lot of bicyclists on the roads, less motorists, and vehicular cycling achieved. Why then, does the notion of encouraging bicycling to a degree motoring is reduced anathema to some of the well known vehicular cyclists mouthpieces? Could all the bicyclists and motorists coexist without some compromises in the way public rights of way are designed? could 60mph cars and cycle commuters coexist if there were large numbers of vehicular cyclists?
I suspect this is against the grain of their emphasis, the supremacy of auto-weighted road rules.
I see, unfortunately, too much kowtowing to the supremacy of the automobile in current vehicular cycling advocacy. Motorcentricity. There are those who willingly accept bans of bicyclists along 'high speed roads' if reasonable alternatives are available for bicyclists. Doesn't this predicate the notion "bikes off of (high speed)roads for the convenience of motorized traffic?"
Roads are public rights of way; for over 5,000 years roads have been the domain of pedestrians and slow moving vehicles. In America, Centuries of precedent establishes roads as available to any member of the public, free to travel unfettered by excessive regulation. But in the last century the world saw the surrender of public rights of way to the supremacy of the automobile.
And now vehicular cycling tries to shoehorn very efficient modes of locomotion onto roads designed to the conveinence of motor traffic to the detriment of the public not motoring at any one moment. WHY should roads be EXPECTED to be the exclusive or near exclusive domain of motorists?
And there's a lot of talk in the vehicular cycling community about not caring to increase gross numbers of bicyclists, just advancing the ones able to cope under such autocentric conditions. More riders riding vehicularily and sometimes not even then. The core interest of vehicular cycling is the continuance of bicyclists continuing to hold their right to travel public rights of way.
If this is the core goal of VC, then so be it: fight mandatory use rules and restrictive vehicle codes, and the goal is acheived: Get out there, ride that 65mph narrow laned arterial, take the lane, and off you go! vehicular cycling acheived.
But some of us vehicular cyclists see greater goals: a redesign of the public landscape to further vehicular cycling in our society: to wit, more vehicular cycling, better roads for more vehicular cycling, and a redesign of road rules to better perpetuate vehicular cycling.
And, what is a road anyway? Does it need motor access to be considered a "road" I think not; there are select locales in the United States that have plenty of roads and no motor vehicles. but roads are there, in use by pedestrians, bicyclists, horses and carriages.
What happens when a road is 'closed' to motor vehicles? Does it cease to be a road? I think not: roads are useable and considered a road regardless of the presence of motor vehicle use. What, then is a MUP? Perhaps it too is a 'road', it certainly is a public right of way, just excluding motor vehicles.
IF mandatory education was enacted across the nation (paid for, perhaps, by a fifty cent gas tax:) ) and the end result were those 28 percent of trips being undertaken by bike, or fifty percent of commutes by bike, a new way of thinking about public space would HAVE to be undertaken: a new paradigm that rejects the old autocentric notions of the 20th century vehicular cycling paradigm.
I believe radical rethinking of public rights of way ,public space design, road rules and design plans are part of the new paradigm of vehicular thinking. the old concepts of simply assuring vehicular road use are met and continued to be fought for, but this is low hanging fruit, albiet difficult ones to pluck from the hands of motor addled state legislatures. But if the right to operate as a vehicle are what is needed, go take the lane of the 65mph arterial, and be gone with you! there's vehicular cycling in a very adverse environment and one never seriously able to be considered by more of the public than the currently brazen ones of us brave enough to call ourselves 'vehicular cyclists':
I suggest new ways of enabling greater vehicular cycling is a higher goal and a more valuable to society than simply assuring the shoehorning very small percent of the public onto autocentric roadways. Case in point: Wide Lanes. Wide lanes keep bicyclists out of the way of cars and do nothing to mitigate the inherent dangers of the hook and the cross, especially as roadway speed increase. there is much more, engineering and educationwise, to be more done for vehicular cycling than wide lanes and claims of statutorial equality.
Vehicular cycling needs to shift away from 20th century paradigm of road use, and raise the bar significantly than the past battles that have been fought and the compromises that have been made kowtowing to autocentricity. The current one perpetuates low rider share and continued autodomination of public rights of way.