Transportation

Dreschel's Illogic on Cycling

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 09, 2009

Well, Spectator columnist Andrew Dreschel's unique style of logic is on full display in his column today. (As at this writing, it has not yet been published to thespec.com. However, you may be able to download the page in PDF.)

Under Dreschel's reasoning, countries like the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany achieved their large, successful cycling communities by doing X and Y, and so therefore Hamilton should do Z, where:

It seems that Dreschel made up his mind about bike licencing first, and only then put together something that looks superficially like an argument to justify his opinion.

Never mind that the proven best way to reduce the number of cycling casualties is to increase the number of cyclists, and mandatory licencing would deter even more people from riding bikes. Never mind that 90 percent of bicycle-automobile crashes are caused by the motorist.

Far be it for facts to get in the way of our society's unreasoning prejudice against cycling.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 09:50:19

I had to laugh when I saw the column in the spec. Maybe Andrew wanted to spend the long weekend answering all of the emails he may receive.

Timely response RTH.

He is right - cyclists should obey the rules of the road/footpath more often.

But.... so should cars AND pedestrians. OR...

Maybe we should look at less rules - a true shared space for all.

I know RTH ran some articles on shared roads a while ago, not enough time now to search the archives. I would like to share a quick story.

Driving through a 1960's era subdivision in St.Catherines a year ago, I noticed no stop, 4-way stop or yield signs at any of the intersections. Did it result in anarchy?? No, you were encouraged (forced??) to drive slowly through the streets knowing at every intersection you may have to yield.

Much better than people driving along my downtown street at 50km plus, knowing they have right of way as they speed by the T-intersection. And much better than 4-way stops at every single intersection.

We all share the roads. Education for all users at a young age sounds like a good place to start.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 10:31:21

Besides the general folly of licensing, no advocates of it ever address the issue of age. Like most people, I learned to ride a bike before I ever took a formal test. Until advocates explain how they plan on either a) banning kids from biking or b) explaining why people should be expected to take a test after having already biked for x number of years, the case for it is ridiculous.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 10:34:51

I haven't read this piece, but it doesn't surprise me. Some of these guys love to give the government control over every single aspect of their lives. What's next? A license for walking? A license for rollerblading a bayfront?
Dreshcel can surrender every aspect of his life to greedy politicians if he likes, but don't come around suggesting that the rest of us should. Believe it or not, some of us can use our brains and cycle, walk and tie up our shoelaces safely without needing a license.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 11:04:37

Ryan >> the proven best way to reduce the number of cycling casualties is to increase the number of cyclists

If a complete bike network was built through Hamilton, what percentage of people would need to use it to justify the reduction in car lanes?

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 11:13:13

Ohhhh, god. What a slap in the face.

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By michaelcumming (registered) - website | Posted October 09, 2009 at 11:28:07

I also thought, as I read Dreschel's column today, that there was some serious lack of reasoning involved in his proposal. I can see licensing of cyclists to be hugely impractical and unlikely to improve traffic safety. It is another instance of trying to start a culture war between cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. Such culture wars are a big waste of time. Let's instead just improve cycling safety by creating more bike paths useful for commuters. This would improve the lives of both cyclists and motorists.

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 11:30:58

Jason, Dreschel's piece has nothing to do with government control over our lives. It's just a bald-faced attempt to pander to populist ignorance about "renegade" cyclists who dare to disrupt Joe Sixpack's sacrosanct right to drive down urban freeways at high speeds in a semi-conscious state.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 11:35:03

Tammany, LOL, awesome comment! right on.

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 11:36:29

Michael, you're absolutely right. It's just another attempt to foment the media-created culture war between cyclists and motorists.

The whole licensing bugbear is a perfect illustration of this. Everyone knows it has nothing to do with safety or adherence to road rules. Rather, it's being tacitly presented as a means for motorists to "get back at" cyclists.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted October 09, 2009 at 16:39:22

Tammany said:>>"It's just a bald-faced attempt to pander to populist ignorance about "renegade" cyclists who dare to disrupt Joe Sixpack's sacrosanct right to drive down urban freeways at high speeds in a semi-conscious state."

I don't interpret this anti-cycling media wave in populist terms. Certainly not ground-up populism. I've said it before: this reeks like a top-down play. I'll bet the Province is planning some punitive legislation against cycling.

Don't blame the blue collars. Sure, the most dedicated cyclists are often yuppies. But so are the most crass motorists, in my experience. When I confront a yuppie about a violation of my safety, they usually roll up the window and speed off. In the same situation, a blue collar will either listen open-mindedly, then say "okay, buddy, I didn't know" or they will get ready to fight for their belief. Either way, there's honour.

I won't support sustainable transportation or new urbanism if it comes in that elitist way. You need the workers to support it (blue collar, white collar and service). You have to promote it as part of a package of green jobs and a reduction in the workweek.

Having said that, I don't know if the ruling class of this urban region are ready to accept the post-Fordist reality, unlike elites of New York or Bay Area. On-terrible. Yours to escape.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 11, 2009 at 12:52:56

I already have a cycling license. It's called by driver's license. To get it I had to learn the rules of the road and write a test. If a police officer stops me for an infraction they can request my ID and write me a ticket making a record of the offence on my driving record. Seems to me we already have a reasonable arrangement in place. We need more X and Y, we have enough Z.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 11, 2009 at 12:53:49

by driver's license = my driver's license.

Humble request for edit comment feature :)

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2009 at 15:31:15

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By Con Black (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2009 at 18:39:07

Motorists should not be allowed on the roads until they learn to drive at the speed of cyclists, it's a safety issue, plain and simple.


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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 11, 2009 at 18:41:49

So this bike license drive, what about those who are living in poverty? How are they to pay for a license? Are they just suppose to walk everywhere? Many cannot afford even to take the bus.

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By Con Black (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2009 at 18:43:09

A Smith, your and my comment differ by more than perspective, and they are not equally valid. Statistics support one argument more than the other. One must ask the simple, fundamental question: what are the consequences of my action (speed) on the safety of others?

In the city, with lots of cars, trucks, buses, cyclists and pedestrians making all manner of manoeuvers in all directions, speed + large heavy vehicle has an obvious consequence to vulnerable road users that is borne out by statistics.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2009 at 20:12:21

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By avid cyclist (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2009 at 14:22:55

as both a licensed vehicle driver and avid cyclist more education needs to be done at the time of licensing in regards to the rights of cyclists on the roads too many drivers seem to think it is either illegal or just wrong that cyclists drive on the road under the highway traffic act bikes are vehicles and it is illegal for us to ride on the sidewalk so if we are to stay off the roads where would you propose we ride perhaps part of every drivers license test should be about bikes and their rights on the road however i also agree that in Hamilton too many cyclists do not follow their own responsibilities in keeping themselves safer by riding the correct way down one way streets and using lights/reflectors at night

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By frank (registered) | Posted October 13, 2009 at 09:40:08

I agree with Avid... Include more instruction about cyclists in the drivers' handbook and crack down on those driver education businesses that spring up everywhere. It seems like all you need is a license and a pyramid sign to stick to the top of your car and eureka, you can instruct people on how to drive...

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted October 13, 2009 at 10:47:37

I don't know if it's just that this thread is being commented on disproportionately by cyclists, but I'm curious as to why is there so much antipathy towards an idea that hasn't even been fleshed out yet. A bicycle licensing regime need not be any of the things that commentators here have disparaged: costly to individuals; an intrusion by the government; or revenge against cyclists. While Dreschel's logic and writing might not be impeccable, he highlights an important issue and potential emerging problem, namely that road-use education is not what it should be, for cyclists or drivers.

If we're to buy into progressive plans to curtail carbon emissions and build a more sustainable city, people are (necessarily) going to have to ditch their cars over time. What this means is that the primary source of road-use education, the car-licensing process, will not be anything approaching universal. Unless everyone moves to transit and leaves the roads to licensed professionals, there will still need to be a comprehensive road-safety program so that people "speak the same language" when they share the road.

A licensing program that amounts to some road-safety education in early-primary school (around the time kids start riding bikes), and evolves into a bike-registration system is not some fascist scheme meant to exact revenge on cyclists and exclude the poor from civic life. And it would not spark some "culture war" meant to create a rift between cyclists and drivers: I'd suggest, judging by Dreschel's column and the reactions by cycling chauvinists on this board, that is already in full-swing since no one seems willing to listen to the ideas of the other side.

Dreschel is right when he says that Hamilton isn't Amsterdam, and we can't ignore that given our specific context, there is going to be a cultural element involved in creating safe shared roadways. The structuralist reductionism that equates building infrastructure with happy and safe cycling is overly simplistic, and there's nothing unreasonable about the idea that if you're going to use a road, no matter what vehicle you choose, you need to understand how you and others use it properly.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 13, 2009 at 11:59:32

Borrelli,

Bicycle licencing is a scam designed to solve an imaginary 'problem' while obstructing real solutions that solve real problems.

Bicycle licencing runs directly contrary to everything we know about how to increase cycling rates, as even Dreschel inadvertently points out in his columnar travesty of post-hoc reasoning.

Places that have high rates of cycling make it easy to cycle: excellent infrastructure, permissive laws, comprehensive education.

Licencing does exactly the opposite.

It does nothing to address the issues that we know discourage people from cycling, and it actually throws up an additional barrier to cycling in a legal, regulatory and physical environment that already discourages cycling.

Your main concern - that a mass shift to cycling will result in less money coming into government coffers to pay for safety training - is pretty much irrelevant to the question of how to increase cycling. I write this for three reasons:

  1. Most collisions between cyclists and motorists are caused by the action of the motorist. Universal licencing of motorists does not seem to have prevented motorist errors that harm cyclists; in fact many motorists possess grave misconceptions about the rights of cyclists despite having had to go through the licencing process.

  2. Every increase in the number of cyclists is correlated strongly with a proportional decrease in the number of collisions. This is true for cities like New York that are growing from low initial rates of cycling, and also for cities like Copenhagen that are still growing from already-high rates of cycling. To the extent that licencing is a barrier - and it IS a barrier, there's no question about this - it will actually reduce the safety for those cyclists who still choose to ride.

  3. Cities with very high rates of cycling manage to achieve road-use education and so on without having to mandate licencing. In contrast, places like The Netherlands and Denmark have voluntary bicycle registration as a way of reducing theft and increasing the chance of recovery.

We don't need licencing to educate children on how to ride bikes safely. What we need is need massive increases in cycling to educate drivers on how to share the road safely.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2009 at 14:30:26

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By frank (registered) | Posted October 13, 2009 at 15:03:20

Alright, I'll take that second argument on... You're thinking backwards. THE POINT IS TO GET PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR CARS AND ONTO BIKES!!! So increase the cost of gas (which the gov't has kept too low anyway) build proper cycling infrastructure with the money u earn by doing the first thing and promote cycling saftey and EUREKA!!!

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2009 at 16:26:34

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted October 13, 2009 at 23:36:49

A Smith: you're arguing against consumer choice and in favour of perhaps the most heavily subsidized technological system for civilians the world has ever seen: mass motoring. And that doesn't even take into account the externalities like the health bill for traffic accidents and(which is what European motorists pay for with the higher taxes).

Look at the history. The "socio-technical mix" of mass motoring and suburbia didn't come about through an aggregate of individual choices. It was planned, centrally, top down. Without the federally planned and funded highway systems, plus subsidized mortgage commissions (which your supposedly Olympian capitalists asked for), it never would have happened.

You say price price all roads privately. Fair enough. But nobody is going to do that. Nobody's in favour of it: not rich people, not poor people. No one has a material interest in that. So in the meantime, in the real world of civic affairs, where bike lanes are quite likely and privatized roads are virtually impossible, you're working against the freedom of consumers to choose how they want to travel.

I'll ask you directly. If you really value consumer choice in the market, don't you think you should call for an end to the huge subsidies to mass motoring first, instead of railing against a tiny subsidy to people who want to bike? Motoring gets the bigger subsidy, yet you do nothing to oppose it. Don't you think you're being inconsistent with your own professed ideology?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 14, 2009 at 09:25:53

This was in yesterday's Globe and Mail:

“We have reached the point where riding a bike is a far better mode of transportation than a car. You can get almost anywhere faster on a bike than in a car. We focus a lot on increasing bike speeds from point A to point B, and one way you can do that is slowing car speed over that same distance.”

When you think of rush hours in major world centres, you imagine cars inching along, going nowhere fast. But the morning and afternoon commute in Copenhagen is something else entirely. It is a spectacle involving tens of thousands of cyclists roaring down dedicated lanes in tight packs, past cars moving at half the speed, if at all.

Copenhagen is the cycling capital of Europe, and likely the most bike-friendly city in the world. An amazing 37 per cent of those living in Greater Copenhagen use a bicycle to get to work or school every day. That number jumps to 55 per cent if you look only at people living inside the city limits.

Bikes are everywhere: in vast lots outside train stations, leaning against buildings, locked to racks that are as ubiquitous as Carlsberg signs. The people riding them are dressed for all occasions. You see men in pin-striped suits and women in skirts and high heels. Few ride anything but old, traditional one-speeds.

As many cities around the world take the first tentative steps toward building bike cultures of their own, Mr. Rohl has become in demand as a speaker. People want to know how Copenhagen did it. Mr. Rohl tells them it took time and uncommon political courage.

Today, cyclists rule the roads in Copenhagen. There are far more bikes than cars. Where cities in North America focus on easing car congestion, in Copenhagen it's bike jams people like Mr. Rohl are trying to solve. In some cases, that has meant taking space away from cars and handing it to cyclists. It's meant building bridges for bikes and pedestrians over busy thoroughfares.

“Part of finding ways to get even more people biking is to make the experience for cyclists as pleasant as possible,” said Mr. Rohl. “So if you can create peaceful routes for cyclists and give them pleasant views, it makes the trip more enjoyable and they'll be more apt to continue doing it.”

Imagine this: Traffic lights that were once co-ordinated for car speeds were adjusted to cater to the pace of the average cyclist, allowing them to travel long distances without ever getting a red light. To increase safety, stop lines for cars are five metres behind those for bikes. Cyclists get a green light up to 12 seconds ahead of cars to help increase their visibility.

http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/st...

[Comment edited by Ryan on 2010-01-08 09:40:31]

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By frank (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 09:36:51

Let me revise my comment to say that the point is to get people out of their cars... whether it's by cycling or by transit makes no difference. And that's not my goal, that's our citys' goal.

I happen to be a gearhead so I think you're barking up the wrong tree. I love driving probably more than the next guy including you, but because I understand the impact my love for driving has on the environment and others, I also would like to be able to take my bike to the grocery store without being nailed by some nameless, faceless A Smith who's brain is so small he thinks he doesn't have to share the road with other users.

I also believe that I can drive in reverse better than most people in citys can drive going forwards. I'm tired of driving around watching idiots break rules of the road because they don't know better or have developed bad habits. It seems that lately "motorist" has become synonymous with "fool with a big tool". Also lately I find myself wishing I could do a lot more cycling just because it's healthy... Only problem is, cycling isn't healthy because of fools like you.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 12:18:40

Ryan, I'm not worried at all about the revenue lost by fewer driver's licenses at all, I'm worried about an unregulated system of road-sharing in a city that, as A Smith pointed out quite rightly, is NOT a cyclers city, and it likely will not become one in our lifetime. There will almost certainly still be MANY MANY cars on Hamilton's roads into the near-future, and the structuralist solutions you propose will only get us so far--there needs to be some transitory socio-cultural movement to get people on to the roads.

Hamilton is barely comparable with Copenhagen, and given the differences in core density (Cop: 5,908/km2, Ham: 451.6/km2) its verging on ridiculous to assume that the same structural magic bullets that have worked there can be applied here. Unless there's some massive redistribution of living patterns in this city, people will still need to use cars. Further, unless there's some massive influx of cash to the city, it's unrealistic to assume that Hamilton will spend anywhere near the amount that Copenhagen does on biking infrastructure.

Which is to say, Ryan, that I understand your arguments about "everything we know about increasing cycling rates," but that I'm saying (again) that that's wonderful, but not necessarily applicable to this context.

But you're right, we don't need licensing to get children to bike safely, but it might be a good way to teach future non-drivers the rules of the road while simultaneously legitimizing a currently (and A Smith is right again) fringe transportation method. No matter how many cyclists huddle together on RTH extolling the virtues of cycling, it won't change the fact that you are a very small minority.

And if, as frank says, this is about getting people out of their cars, then, very obviously, this isn't really about YOU cyclists at all. This is about drivers and what makes them comfortable in leaving their vehicles and getting on a bike. As I pointed out in an earlier post, a significant number of Ontarians cite safety concerns as a barrier to getting on a bike, and I suggest that there needs to be some cultural component to convincing people that its safe to get on a bike and share the road with cars. Given Canadians' rather pronounced deference to authority, I believe that a soft-licensing program would build the necessary legitimacy and confidence among drivers to a) view cyclists as equal sharers of the road, and b) as a result of a, consider cycling safe enough to venture a try at it themselves.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 12:27:19

^^Do you even ride a bike? What nonsense. Tell me one city in the world where bike licensing has improved safety or increased the rate of cycling.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 12:38:34

Hamilton is NO position to be world leaders in some ass-backwards logic that requiring a license for something will encourage it. We already know what works and it ain't licensing. We aren't in the position to challenge the precedents of cities that are decades ahead of us, especially not with such terrible logic. I've rode my bike in many world class cities where the infrastructure is widespread, cycling spans all ages and classes and the drivers aren't afraid of or antagonized by bikes. NOT ONE required a freaking license to ride a bike. Bike licensing is a poor solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

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By Seam (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 12:41:49

As you mentioned Borelli, the problem with cycling to most people, especially in Hamilton, cities havn't given the cyclist an option. The city would like to support and maintain the status quo of being lazy, car drivers, opting to do nothing to encourage cycling. What roads make people comfortable when riding in Hamilton? NONE!

The change to Hamilton's roadways to encourage more cycling is simple. Turn the far right lane on Main St. and/or King St. into a bus and cycling only lane. Twenty feet before each major intersection, vehicles have an opportunity to enter the right lane to make their necessary right turn. Since every other major street is one way in the opposite direction, this idea wouldn't be very difficult to implement. Does the Main St. need 4 lanes all the time? Maybe rush hour would be less chaotic if more people had at least one major city road to ride a bicycle down. It's nerve racking to ride downtown, yet faster to get around, cheaper, and better for you and me!

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 12:51:41

If anyone really thinks bike lanes are a 'magic bullet' in places like Copenhagen, read this Globe and Mail article. Truth is those cities had to do exactly what Toronto is trying to do, slog through alot of bullshit.

Copenhagen — From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009 8:15PM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009 8:36PM EDT

From his second-floor office overlooking a Baltic-fed canal, Andreas Rohl ponders a daily question: How can he make life hell for the car drivers of this Scandinavian capital? Mr. Rohl, you see, is the bicycle program manager for the city government of Copenhagen. And it's his job to get more of the almost two million Danes living in Greater Copenhagen out of their cars and onto bikes. And to do that he must find ways of making a daily commute on two wheels more attractive than one on four.

“This is what we work on a lot,” said Mr. Rohl, an every-day cyclist who does not own a car. “It's all about normalization: making the experience of getting in and around the city on a bicycle as normal and hassle-free as possible.

“We have reached the point where riding a bike is a far better mode of transportation than a car. You can get almost anywhere faster on a bike than in a car. We focus a lot on increasing bike speeds from point A to point B, and one way you can do that is slowing car speed over that same distance.”

When you think of rush hours in major world centres, you imagine cars inching along, going nowhere fast. But the morning and afternoon commute in Copenhagen is something else entirely. It is a spectacle involving tens of thousands of cyclists roaring down dedicated lanes in tight packs, past cars moving at half the speed, if at all.

Copenhagen is the cycling capital of Europe, and likely the most bike-friendly city in the world. An amazing 37 per cent of those living in Greater Copenhagen use a bicycle to get to work or school every day. That number jumps to 55 per cent if you look only at people living inside the city limits.

Bikes are everywhere: in vast lots outside train stations, leaning against buildings, locked to racks that are as ubiquitous as Carlsberg signs. The people riding them are dressed for all occasions. You see men in pin-striped suits and women in skirts and high heels. Few ride anything but old, traditional one-speeds.

As many cities around the world take the first tentative steps toward building bike cultures of their own, Mr. Rohl has become in demand as a speaker. People want to know how Copenhagen did it. Mr. Rohl tells them it took time and uncommon political courage.

Today, cyclists rule the roads in Copenhagen. There are far more bikes than cars. Where cities in North America focus on easing car congestion, in Copenhagen it's bike jams people like Mr. Rohl are trying to solve. In some cases, that has meant taking space away from cars and handing it to cyclists. It's meant building bridges for bikes and pedestrians over busy thoroughfares.

“Part of finding ways to get even more people biking is to make the experience for cyclists as pleasant as possible,” said Mr. Rohl. “So if you can create peaceful routes for cyclists and give them pleasant views, it makes the trip more enjoyable and they'll be more apt to continue doing it.”

Imagine this: Traffic lights that were once co-ordinated for car speeds were adjusted to cater to the pace of the average cyclist, allowing them to travel long distances without ever getting a red light. To increase safety, stop lines for cars are five metres behind those for bikes. Cyclists get a green light up to 12 seconds ahead of cars to help increase their visibility.

In the winter months, bike ridership drops off 20 per cent. Still, an armada of plows is ready to clear bike lanes when snow flies. They get priority over routes for cars.

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By reuben (registered) - website | Posted October 14, 2009 at 13:04:59

how would bike licensing work for those visiting the city on (or with) their bikes? wouldn't this type of legislation need to be provincially mandated like driving licenses are?

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By Seam (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 13:15:30

John, you are right, bike lanes aren't 'magic bullets' but we have to start somewhere. Since there are no commuter paths in place to make people want to ride more, shoveling through this first pile 'bike path' manure is a good place to start, until the next truck load shows up.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 13:50:43

Jonathan, not that it matters (do I have to ride a bike to have an opinion on this?), but no I don't ride a bike in this city any more. I used to ride to get to Mac, but found the bus a much preferable option given the routes I was required to use (I will likely never feel all the comfortable riding on King, even with the dedicated "lane" they have there). Now I am primarily a ped when traveling within the city.

And in response to your polite demand, sure I can give you the name of a city where ridership has increased: Davis, California. Its had mandatory bike registration since the 1970s, and even though there is a lack of comprehensive cycling statistics like ridership or safety numbers, I'm going to guess that they've increased the number of cyclists since the 1970s.

But that's sort of cheating isn't it? Well how about this: why don't YOU give me the name of a city where ridership has demonstrably gone DOWN because of a license. Again, I think you'll find it quite difficult given the dearth of stats, but I'm happy to be educated, so take a shot anyway.

I'm going to guess that at best, we can say that licensing MAY be a barrier to increasing ridership, but so is the perception of safety, and so is lack of infrastructure, so ass-backward logic or not, I'm going to reiterate that I think a complex problem like this requires more than a one-dimensional solution.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 14:07:30

Is it a complex problem? What are potential cyclists afraid of that they need licensing to increase their perception of safety? Are they scared of drunk, reckless sociopathic cyclists running them over in their blatant disregard for the law? That seems to be Dreschel's line of reasoning. The only fear I hear about again and again is cars.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 14, 2009 at 14:08:12

Borelli,

You're attacking a straw man in your rebuttal. Nowhere do I claim that installing bike lanes will turn Hamilton into Copenhagen. Copenhagen itself has become a cycling mecca over three and a half decades of steady improvement in its cycling facilities (which include but are not restricted to its high quality road network).

What I'm claiming, and the available evidence strongly supports my claim, is the following:

  1. If and as Hamilton builds a continuous bike network, the number of cyclists on the road will start to increase steadily over time as the element of fear is reduced among people who would like to ride but are afraid of sharing the road with cars.

  2. The presence of more cyclists on the road will normalize cycling for still more people, which will feed into the growth of cycling.

  3. The presence of more cyclists on the road will train drivers to expect cyclists, which will reduce physical confrontations between bicycles and motor vehicles and, hence, reduce the number of collisions.

  4. As the number of cyclists increases, the manner in which cyclists ride will become more normalized over time and flagrant abuses (riding on sidewalks, riding the wrong way down one way streets, etc.) will decrease.

  5. As cycling becomes more normalized and more people discover its benefits, public support for yet more cycling infrastructure will grow steadily and it will be less risky for politicians to promote and vote for it.

A few more points:

  • In Hamilton today, large majorities of residents already support increases in cycling and improvements in bicycle infrastructure. Do not take the NIMBYism of a bar owner, the bombast of a talk radio DJ or the aggressive driving of a tiny minority of motorists to be representative of public sentiment.

  • Hamilton's planning framework already supports the creation of a continuous network of bike lanes, as expressed explicitly in Vision 2020, GRIDS, the Transportation Master Plan, the Downtown Transportation Master Plan, and the Cycling Plan - all approved by Council after considerable public input and debate.

This is about drivers and what makes them comfortable in leaving their vehicles and getting on a bike.

Of course it is. I haven't seen anyone claim differently.

As I pointed out in an earlier post, a significant number of Ontarians cite safety concerns as a barrier to getting on a bike

Yes, which is why we need bike lanes.

and I suggest that there needs to be some cultural component to convincing people that its safe to get on a bike and share the road with cars.

So couple the construction of a bike lane network with a public information campaign and comprehensive childhood education on cycling.

Face it: there is NO legitimate role for licencing in increasing eith the safety or the perception of safety of cycling. In fact it will do the opposite: it will communicate to people that cycling is a dangerous activity that must be regulated and further discourage people from taking the risk.

Licencing is a distraction - a dangerous distraction - because it draws our attention and energy away from what we already know works and introduces all kinds of irrelevant and nonsensical reactions that merely fuel the supposed conflict between driving and cycling.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 14:25:45

Borelli: "Hamilton is barely comparable with Copenhagen, and given the differences in core density (Cop: 5,908/km2, Ham: 451.6/km2) its verging on ridiculous to assume that the same structural magic bullets that have worked there can be applied here. "

It's misleading to compare the overall population density of Hamilton (which includes vast tracts of rural land) to Copenhagen.

A better comparison is population density in the urban core, where the majority of cyclists now ride: the Durand neighbourhood actually has a population density twice that of Copenhagen's: 12,600/km2 (11000 for an area of about 0.87km2). So, there should be absolutely no difficulty justifying Copenhagen bike policies and infrastructure, at least in the core. I visited Copenhagen a year ago, and it was clear that the greatest cyclist density was in the core, not the suburbs.

Let's start by improving cycling infrastructure in the core of Hamilton where there is currently the greatest demand (e.g. Eastgate to McMaster and the waterfront to the escarpment)and then extend it outwards as demand rises.

Licensing (and mandatory insurance) won't solve any problems, and the vast majority of cities and countries that have incresed cycling have seen no need for licensing. It really does seem to simply be a way to "get back at those reckless cyclists", despite the fact that the facts show that cyclists cause very few accidents (90% of bike-cyclist collisions are caused by motorists!).

The same argument could be made to "license" pedestrians: they use the roads (especially in areas without sidewalks and when they cross intersections), they cause accidents and they don't obey traffic laws.

There's a very good reason we license drivers, but not cyclists and pedestrians: the financial risks and physical danger associated with operating motor vehicles are orders of magnitude greater than with cycling or walking (where, in any case, almost all injuries are still caused by motor vehicles). This shouldn't be a mystery to anyone!

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 14:46:26

Oops .. that should have been (90% of bike-car collisions are caused by motorists!).

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 14, 2009 at 16:07:34

Jonathan Dalton wrote:

The only fear I hear about again and again is cars.

From Jack Wolters, Amsterdam's top traffic-safety officer:

"The target of the police is not to control cyclists and pedestrians. It is to control the most dangerous part, motorcar drivers."

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 16:08:43

Oh come on Ryan--if I'm burning a Copenhagen-shaped straw man, it's because you and the other cycling chauvinists on this board keep holding it up as a model that should be followed--you keep citing lessons learned in cities that are NOT Hamilton yet constantly asserting that they are an evidence-backed, universally applicable magic bullet.

If I'm attacking anything, Ryan, it's exactly that: the idea that all the "answers" are out there, universally applicable, that they're purely structural, and that the trump all other solutions. You're giving me the engineer's approach to public policy, and I'm arguing that it's not as simple as just plunking down lanes: this is a public issue that involves people (and changing their potentially misguided opinions), and public dollars, so if you and other cycling proponents here want to be the voice of change in Hamilton on this issue, you're going to have eventually address the concerns of people like Dreschel (and yes, even A Smith) instead of haughtily dismissing them.

And here you have an opportunity: I think I'm fairly open minded guy, and I read Dreschel's column and I think, "Hey, that's similar to my experience w/ cyclists in Hamilton. Maybe this guy has some ideas worth thinking about." So I go to the smartest group of cycling proponents I know, but instead of attempting to ease my concerns about the lack of a safe cycling culture, I've been repeatedly told that my concerns and ideas are various colours of idiotic or logically ass-backwards.

Not to go too far on a tangent, but has anyone here ever heard of the Seaborn Panel? It was an environmental assessment panel convened in the 80s to investigate how to manage nuclear waste in Canada. I'll skip the boring bits, but what it found was that the science and technology was there to build a repository for nuclear waste 500m underground, and it would be perfectly safe for humans and the environment. Yet Mr Seaborn told AECL, Yes, you've got your science down right, but you don't have a social license for this concept--people just don't have enough confidence that this multi-billion dollar project will be safe and you will have to go back to the drawing board and demonstrate that you can get social acceptance.

Which is to say, "Burying thousands of tons of nuclear waste underground has its opponents, and you engineers and PhDs in nuclear physics can't just bludgeon them over the heads with your opinion that this is the safest and best way to dispose of nuclear waste--explain to them the risks, the trade-offs, and the science behind it and build their trust in the concept: it's a technical problem AND a social one."

The analogy I'm trying to draw here is not that cycling lanes or licenses are as controversial as nuclear waste, but that Hamilton's cycling chauvinists are bluntly trying to convince skeptics that infrastructure is enough, and that any other concerns people like Dreschel, or me, or A Smith, or whoever have, are stupid and we shouldn't worry our pretty little heads over them--if you build it, they will come.

Worse still, you're positioned as a group who wants positive, progressive public policy catered to you by citizens/tax payers/whatever, yet are obstinately opposed to doing anything that might endear yourselves to a skeptical and sometimes hostile public: a soft-licensing regime is a pain in the ass to you, but if that were the price of increased investment in cycling infrastructure, would you say no? Why? I have heard all the ways it might not HELP increase ridership, but no one's showed me it would HURT it either, and I'm arguing that it might have some positive short and long-term effects if done properly.

I hope that none of you would address the concerns of citizens, politicians or city staff the same way that you've addressed mine. As far as I know, constructive dialogue between citizens works, not the "we know best" attitude: that seems to only serve to perpetuate this phony "war on the car/cyclists vs. the world" narrative that columnists like Dreschel use to sell papers.

And Jonathan, answer the question: Which cities have seen licensing reduce ridership? Maybe it just sounds like you're e-belligerent, but seriously, I answered your question, now do me the courtesy of answering mine.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 16:22:56

And to Nicholas, before I head out of the office, I understand what you're saying about density, and I thought of that, but I'm still unsure of how to compare because we have to talk about the type of trips people are going to make. In Copenhagen, it sounds as though most trips are made within the urban core, from home to work--given the layout of Hamilton, what type of trips do we expect people to be making? Where do people work, and where do they live, and are they comparable to Copenhagen? I don't know the answer, that's why I'm asking.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 16:27:18

The fact that Davis, CA has a 'lack of comprehensive cycling statistics like ridership or safety numbers' says enough. I'll concede that their bike ridership has probably increased from the 70's all time low, but I'd also bet that it's below the state average.

I can give you an example of licensing acting as a disincentive. In the 70's mopeds became hugely popular in Canada. They were motor assisted bicycles with 50cc engines and a top speed of 50km/h. No license, registration or insurance was required, only a minimum age of 15. Some US states still have such lax restrictions today. They would get about 100mpg. In 1981 Ontario introduced mandatory insurance, registration and required a drivers license. Within a few years the market evaporated and no mopeds were sold in Ontario. Obviously people enjoyed the freedom of 2 wheels and next to zero operational cost but couldn't be bothered with the extra cost and hassle of licensing.

Obviously even the smallest motorized vehicles are potentially more dangerous than bikes. Now, you're suggesting we regulate something with no power source that 5 year olds can figure out how to ride. Who would bother to get a license unless they are already a dedicated rider or have no choice?

What is possibly to be gained by licensing other than this mythical 'sense of legitimacy'? Will lawbreaking cyclists have their bikes impounded? Will anyone ACTUALLY change their behaviour as a result?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 16:33:10

Encouraging more cycling, transit use and pedestrian activity is not just some ideal dreamt up by cycling proponents, it is the official policy of the City of Hamilton. The problem is that they haven't yet put into place any effective policies to achieve these goals.

I'm not sure how we can learn from the experience of other cities if these examples are dismissed by saying "but they aren't Hamilton"! We are in a Catch-22: Hamiltonians don't want to pioneer anything "new", but they don't want to learn from what has worked elsewhere (Vancouver, Montreal, the Netherlands, Paris).

Davis is one of the few cities in California to license cyclists, but it has also spent a lot on bikeways and other ways of encouraging cycling. This seems to be a fair trade-off (although the net benefits of licensing are not obvious).

Here, the attitude seems to be "let's get back at those reckless cyclists by forcing them to display a license, and maybe we'll think about improving road conditions for cyclists". If licensing were rolled out as part of a massive investment in cycle lanes you'd see a more moderate response.

However, the bottom line is that all the licensing talk has come from people who find cyclists a nuisance and are not proposing any real improvements. It's just an excuse to avoid taking action that actually works!

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 16:37:32

As mentioned earlier in this thread, the proponents of licensing don't point out that the primary purpose of licensing in places like California (Cambridge, UK) is not to increase safety (or force better behaviour from cyclists), but to allow recovery of stolen bikes: see "City Drops Bicycle License Program In Favor Of National Registry"

http://www.nationalbikeregistry.com/ http://www.ci.garden-grove.ca.us/?q=fire...

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 16:55:41

Borelli, as far as I've seen, in most places where cycling is popular trips are under 10km (5km is probably typical). In Copenhagan, a lot of cycling was commuting from the train station to work in the core.

In Hamilton, there is significant cycle commuting between the downtown/southwest and McMaster/Westdale, and a fair amount of short trip (<5km) work/shopping/entertainment cycling in the downtown area. Outside those areas, cycling is much less prevalent.

I know many people who'd like to commute, or use their bicycle for work, but are too scared of riding on busy streets. The same applies to children who would like to ride to school, but who are not allowed to.

Once the number of cyclists reaches a certain level, it becomes "normal" (and the danger decreases). Paris is a classic example: I lived there for 4 years, and never dared get on a bike (even though I was a regular commuter cyclist before and after), but now there's bikes everywhere. Why? They built a network of cycle lanes and introduced the Velib programme to make cycling cheap and easy for newbies and visitors.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 16:59:49

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 17:14:40

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 18:37:42

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 23:09:54

I will say I am against licensing, but Borrelli has a few good points. It is the same case with many of the topics here on RTH. Cycling infrastructure (or whatever the thread) has to be sold to everyone, not just the cycling enthusiasts.

"They would get about 100mpg. In 1981 Ontario introduced mandatory insurance, registration and required a drivers license. Within a few years the market evaporated and no mopeds were sold in Ontario"

A quick comment about the above statement - correlation vs causation?? While the licensing probably had an effect on moped ridership, lets not forget the world events and the spike in oil prices which led to commuters looking for a cheaper ride in the first place. Oil falls, cars are more attractive again.

Yes, this also goes with the argument of building cycling lanes = cycling more attractive = more cyclists and so on.



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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 15, 2009 at 07:06:21

Cycling infrastructure (or whatever the thread) has to be sold to everyone, not just the cycling enthusiasts.

That's exactly the point.

Cycling enthusiasts will ride whether bike lanes exist or not - and some cycling enthusiasts are opposed to bike lanes. I used to be cool on bike lanes before doing a lot of research on what gets more people cycling. I personally don't need bike lanes to cycle - I ride a bike year-round in the city and have done so for years.

What bike lanes do is encourage people who don't already cycle to start, in part by reducing the fear of sharing space with dangerous motor vehicles.

Again, we don't need to guess about whether this would work: all we need to do is study cities that have built and are building bike lane networks and observe what happens to rates of cycling.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 15, 2009 at 07:54:17

if I'm burning a Copenhagen-shaped straw man, it's because you and the other cycling chauvinists on this board keep holding it up as a model that should be followed

Copenhagen ... and Amsterdam, and Paris, and New York, and Vancouver, and Portland, and Boulder, and Trondheim, and Barcelona, and Berlin, and Davis, and Sandnes, and ...

What all of these cities have in common:

  1. They were once just as bicycle-unfriendly as places like Hamilton.

  2. They decided to commit to becoming more bicycle-friendly.

  3. They built extensive, high quality networks of bike lanes (some are still in the process of building them) and related infrastructure, including parking facilities, public bike rentals, and so on.

  4. They introduced bicycle registration programs to deter theft and increase recovery rates (NOT to regulate cyclists).

  5. They introduced education programs to promote cycling.

  6. Cycling entered a positive feedback loop of increasing uptake.

  7. Cycling casualties started to go down.

  8. Cycling became normalized and then celebrated, and the rate of cycling continues to increase steadily, even in places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, which already have 40% and 50% rates of cycling, respectively.

NOT ONE of these cities promoted cycling via licencing for cyclists. There are no examples anywhere that I am aware of in which a city increased cycling by regulating cyclists and restricting the right to ride a bike rather than by building safe networks for cyclists.

you keep citing lessons learned in cities that are NOT Hamilton yet constantly asserting that they are an evidence-backed, universally applicable magic bullet.

That's pure exceptionalism talking. Human nature does not change from one city to the next, and there is no reason why basic principles of good transportation design that work in every other city around the world where they are adopted would not work in Hamilton.

Incidentally, in every city that has successfully created large cycling cultures, there were initially large numbers of naysayers insisting that those proposals might work elsewhere but THINGS ARE DIFFERENT HERE. In every single case, the naysayers were wrong.

Sorry, but the lack of suitable bicycle infrastructure is an engineering problem, and the solution is an engineering solution.

Incidentally, mandatory licencing is also unquestionably an engineering solution - but it is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

As for the perceived lack of popular support for building bike lanes, the only solution I'm aware of is to counter ignorance and fear with good, fact-based information.

As far as that goes, people like Dreschel are part of the problem - he has a rare opportunity to learn the facts and use his column to communicate an evidence-based approach, but instead he chooses to manipulate fear and ignorance to sell controversy.

The real purpose of Dreschel's argument in favour of mandatory cyclist licencing is to punish and deter the cyclists he disdains, not to encourage more cycling.

Frankly, that's appalling when the issue is a matter of life and death. I write this as someone who recently had a motorist speed past me, yell "Get off the road, asshole!" and then cut me off so I had to swerve, slam my brakes and try not to crash into a parked car.

Dreschel is feeding the fire of ignorance and hatred that motivates people like this driver, and I owe him not one shred of respect or politeness in my response to his dangerous, abusive, irresponsible diatribes.

you're going to have eventually address the concerns of people like Dreschel (and yes, even A Smith) instead of haughtily dismissing them.

Setting aside the fact that Dreschel's and A Smith's concerns are bogus - they're both trolling, not seriously or honestly debating policy - I and other cycling advocates have addressed these concerns and continue to address them.

I haven't "dismissed" your own arguments - I've responded to them in detail and continue to do so.

I've been repeatedly told that my concerns and ideas are various colours of idiotic or logically ass-backwards.

As far as I can tell, what you have been told is that that your concerns about how to regulate cycling behaviour are best addressed by normalizing cycling with real infrastructure and that your idea for cyclist licencing is not empirically supported anywhere in the world.

If anyone is dismissing ideas, it's you, dismissing the clear evidence of every city in the world that has a successful cycling culture just because Hamilton is somehow magically 'different' from every other city.

yet are obstinately opposed to doing anything that might endear yourselves to a skeptical and sometimes hostile public

No. I am obstinately opposed to doing anything that runs directly contrary to the public policy goal of a more balanced, healthy, safe, environmentally sustainable transportation network.

It seems you're falling prey to the Middle Ground Fallacy here - the idea that the right position is the one in the middle of two opposing positions.

When one position is to do things that will increase cycling and the other position is to do things that will deter cycling, it's absurd to conclude that the right solution is to do a bit of both!

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 11:34:23

"Frankly, that's appalling when the issue is a matter of life and death. I write this as someone who recently had a motorist speed past me, yell "Get off the road, asshole!" and then cut me off so I had to swerve, slam my brakes and try not to crash into a parked car. "

This has happened to me as well. Fortunately only once or twice a year. There is now a camera on my bike and any such incidences WILL be reported to the police.

That said, I am delighted and amazed at how courteous people are becoming. It is important to be courteous yourself ... queuing with traffic, being predictable and lawful, that sort of thing. I make sure I wave thank you. I have been waving thank you a lot lately. Once in a while a bus or transport truck slowly drives behind me if they cannot pass safely. If I notice it I yield and let them pass even though I don't have to - and they love it and wave thankfully at me. I genuinely do not want to interfere with traffic but I must ride using the arrangement that has been put in place, which in this region is usually sharing the road.

I am very pleasantly surprised at the number of motorists that have waved me in, been patient, and so on, in the last month or so. I suspect that the manufactured war is backfiring on the instigators - it is increasing awareness and is cooling people down, not instigating fights like they want. So, they have to turn to other punitive measures to defend the Old System like threatening licensing.

You are all awesome. During his journey through life, one day those like A Smith will be humbled and will be in need of compassion and hopefully that inspires them to think differently, or at least reexamine some assumptions and attitudes. Let's ignore the crazies and be nice to each other.

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 12:22:18

@Borrelli

You keep calling us "cycling chauvinists", it seems to me that real chauvinism is continuing to support or oppose something no matter what the facts say. We have the facts on our side, all you have is outrage.

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By Seam (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 13:16:11

Mikeonthemountain, I'm with you too! I've seen an overwhelming support from drivers on the streets these days. Waving and communicating at a cyclist is the key to positive cycling in the city.

Ok, let's put this hypothesis out there. Say mandatory licensing becomes law, and say, it actually works out that more people start to ride on the city streets of Hamilton. How will the naysayers feel then? Will there still be aggession towards cyclists? Or will they accept that the bicycle is the favoured mode of downtown transportation and deal with it? Would they accept us as legitimate , or will they still maintain a jealousy towards a cheaper, friendlier, faster mode of transportation in the downtown core.


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By peace bridge (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 13:47:38

Hey borelli, I think I get what you're trying to get at in a roundabout way, only it's hard to tell because you're so hung up on the licencing thing. Let it go, it's a big fail, hasn't worked anywhere. Put it out of the way and get down to the brass tacks, your underlying concern about how to get the public to accept bike lanes. Make that a point of agreement with the cyling advocates and try to work together to figure out how best to sell cycling. Right now your setting yourself up in opposition and then complaining when people oppose your for-the-sake-of-argument licencing idea.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 15:29:33

Add Victoria, BC to the list of cities with leadership in cycling initiatives. They have the highest cycling ridership in Canada at 10%, despite above average rainfall. Their success is, no surprise, in adding dedicated cycling lanes and integrating bikes into an above-average regional bus system.

http://www.gvcc.bc.ca/index.php?option=c...

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 16:35:48

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 16:54:23

"Coming from someone that thinks it's alright to steal other people's money"

False. I look in the mirror just fine. I steal nothing and give more than you know.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 16:56:49

"Coming from someone that thinks it's alright to steal other people's money"

False. I think it is horrible to steal other people's money. That is why the auto bailouts and massive subsidies that fund death and destruction must cease immediately. I look in the mirror just fine. I steal nothing and give more than you know. Oh I'm sorry you were still rambling ...

"Please, continue your petty bickering. I find it most intriguing!" ~ Commander Data, Star Trek

/end of engaging troll

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 16:58:56

Site acting weird sorry for messed up post.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 17:14:05

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted October 15, 2009 at 19:03:43

Even with a city-wide, connected bike network, bike lanes would surely occupy far less than 5% of road space. And those 5% of cyclists cause far less than 5% of road damage. And, even though it's a separate set of "accounts", cyclists deserve a discount for contributing less to health care costs compared to drivers.

Another point: from my understanding the 5% number is a modal share, measured in Vehicle Kilometers Travelled. The actual percentage of people who ride a bike some of the time will be considerably higher. For example, I'm as avid a cyclist as you'll find - it's my main mode 12 months of the year, but quite often I take a bus or borrow a car.

So your argument is unjust, even according to your anal, instrumental reduction of humans to economistic stats. Thankfully, most people don't buy into that ethically bankrupt way of seeing the world. They understand that the community has a duty to support those who are making a choice to go green. That's why cyclists have had such warm relations with the majority of drivers on the road.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 19:34:05

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted October 15, 2009 at 19:40:20

Why don't you respond to my rebuttal of your 5% nonsense. Then we can move on.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 20:00:18

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted October 15, 2009 at 20:49:16

Nobody knows what percentage of vehicles on the road at "any point in time" are bicycles. At one "point in time" it could be 20%. At another "point in time" it could be less than 1%. Modal share is usually measured in either vehicle miles travelled or number of trips.

My point is that "cyclists" - people who ride bikes - are much more than 5% of the population - and will only grow if it is made safe. As Ryan's stats from other cities amply demonstrates, there is latent demand for the use of this technology. And why not? It's low cost, healthy, convivial, ecologically sustainable. The people of Hamilton deserve the freedom of choice to ride a bicycle.

Do you not agree? Or does your version consumer freedom only apply to those consumer choices that are already supported by massive subsidies?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 22:16:59

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 22:40:32

"And those 5% of cyclists cause far less than 5% of road damage."

This is very true. Cyclists create the least road damage but suffer disproportionately from the road damage. Much of the time when I take a full right lane, it is because the asphalt is all busted up and dangerous for a bike tire. In spots I have to leave bike lanes and enter the right traffic lane momentarily to pass damage. The sunken grates become particularly dangerous and have damaged tires on more than one occasion because it was unsafe to move out into the lane and I had to run over a pothole as the lesser of the evils. Usually I see it coming and adjust early, but if it catches you by surprise it is dangerous. Fortunately changing a bike tire is dirt cheap :)

"That's why cyclists have had such warm relations with the majority of drivers on the road."

It is heartwarming to see progress on that front, and there is noticeable progress. Like Ryan said though, it is an engineering problem best approached with an engineering solution. I really appreciate their patience, but I would so much rather not inconvenience a bus or vehicle at all. With proper engineering most if not all of the contention can be removed, making that part pretty close to a non-issue!

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 22:52:12

"Even if 100% of people tell you they like to cycle, that doesn't mean they want they city to replace car lanes with bike lanes."

I do agree with you on this point! If there was sufficient education, and social courtesy and consideration, and drivers yielded the right lane to slower traffic including bikes as a matter of course, there would be no need for such partitioning of the road network. Shared spaces and naked road concepts are a perfect example of this!

Unfortunately, because we currently lack both education and courtesy, using the right lane on a bike puts you on the receiving end of attempted murder. That is why the lanes are needed to increase ridership and safety. Personally my favorite solution is shared spaces in city cores, but given the current variables in this region of the world, bike lanes are the most realistic compromise.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 23:33:49

To expand on this...


LL >> the 5% number is a modal share, measured in Vehicle Kilometers Travelled. The actual percentage of people who ride a bike some of the time will be considerably higher.

At any point in time during the day, less than 5% of the vehicles on the roads are bikes. Do you dispute this?


Whatever the percentage of usage, if it is measured in kilometers traveled, then that will vary from time of usage due to a factor called speed. A faster vehicle will spend less time to travel the same distance. So if the average speed of a car is twice that of a bike, than the at any point of time of the day, the % of bikes on the road will be double the % of bikes by kilometers traveled.

[Comment edited by Ryan on 2010-01-08 09:50:23]

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 16, 2009 at 11:39:52

JonC, I ran into some similar issues of measurement when studying whether cycling is safe:

http://raisethehammer.org/article/617

It's tempting to calculate risk by kilometres traveled. By this measure, cycling is somewhat more dangerous than driving.

However, cyclists travel shorter distances, on average, than motorists, since driving encourages people to live much farther away from other destinations. By time spent at the activity, cycling is somewhat safer than driving.

Better still is calculating overall risk, which already favours cyclists in North America and will be even more pronounced once the number of cyclists goes up and the casualty risk falls further.

Yet another measurement is the risk of dying in a crash. The risk for cyclists is somewhat higher than for people in a car and about the same as the risk for people in an SUV or light truck.

Of course, SUVs encourage a false sense of safety which leads people to do riskier things when driving them, whereas bicycles feel very exposed - call it a false sense of danger - which leads cyclists to be more careful. That's how you can have a slightly higher risk of death in a crash paired with a lower risk of death overall - lower risk of crashes.

Finally, the overall health benefits of riding a bicycle compared to sitting in a car are tremendous. The gain in "life years" due to active living is 20 times higher than the loss in "life years" due to casualty.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted October 16, 2009 at 21:53:36

Just a reminder of the actual cost of bike/car collisions

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/10/...

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