Schlagwort-Archive: cycling infrastructure

Bicycling Safely On The Road

Vehicular cycling advocate, John Forrester, recently passed away. The video below illustrates his ideas. In a nutshell, as a cyclist you should take yourself seriously as a road user, confidently claim the same right to the road as anybody else, and behave mostly as you would driving a motor vehicle. I have only one nit to pick: the cyclists in the video seem rather shy when it comes to claiming space, they could take the middle of the lane more often.

According to my experience, Forrester’s ideas work very well although they may take some getting used to before one can really appreciate them. Against general inclusionist trends in western societies, modern-day cycling infrastructure advocates nevertheless reject his approach, arguing that roads – or rather, segregated bike paths – should be designed for cyclists instead. In a rhetorical sleight of hand they gain approval to the truism that infrastructure design influence the safety and happiness of cyclists only to switch the general notion of infrastructure for their narrow definition later.

Dense or fast traffic can feel scary, but the real danger often looms where we least expect it. A crossroads in the middle of nowhere can be dangerous due to the angle in which roads meet. This is an infrastructure issue to be fixed by redesigning the crossroads for better visibility and perceptibility. Being advocates for a particular design, segregationists rarely discuss bicycle-friendly road design – or design objectives and tradeoffs at all.

Vehicular cycling works better on some roads than it does on others. It works where other road users do not perceive cyclists as an obstacle, either because there is ample space to pass or traffic is running so slow that passing does not really make a difference.  Vehicular cycling becomes psychologically much harder for everyone when road design turns cyclists on the road into a seemingly unnecessary obstacle and therefore, a provocation. Durch designs with narrow lanes on the regular road and separate bike paths do a great job at that. Vehicular cycling would be virtually impossible here:

Luftbild einer Straße in Nuenen by Eindhoven
Discouragement by design (source: Google Maps)

This road design causes the very stress bike path advocates promise to relieve through segregation. Unless you give up and comply, that is. Any honest debate of cycling infrastructure should at least acknowledge that regular roads are infrastructure and segregation is not the only viable approach to infrastructure design for cycling. If someone tries to sell you bike paths while avoiding a more comprehensive discussion of infrastructure design for cyclists, just walk ride away.