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Bicycle Friendly Fiendish Communities

-- NOT so Friendly to Cyclists --
by Fred Oswald, PE, LCI #947

3 -- Encouragement -- Must be More than Cheerleading for Bicycle Use

Some "bicycle advocates" make the silly claim that all bicycle riders and all riding styles are of equal value.  If this were true, then there would be no need for education, which has the goal of helping people improve.  Crash data shows clearly that people who follow the best practices have a 75 to 80 percent reduction in their collision rate, compared to the average.

Encouragement must be more than cheerleading.  We must stop encouraging dangerous mistakes.

The best "bicycle advocacy" is teaching people proper methods.

Combining elements from the other four E's can make encouragement distinctly more successful - creating a real 'bicycle culture' and making people feel that cycling is a 'main stream' activity.  Getting elected and appointed officials involved, in fact getting them on bikes riding correctly and setting a good example, would go a long way to make this 'bicycle culture' happen.  Encouragement can also include providing financial incentives, secure parking facilities and help when the weather turns unpleasant.

The best "bicycle advocacy" is education -- teaching people proper cycling methods -- following the standard rules of the road.  The most effective form of encouragement means helping everyone understand best practices.  The improved cycling knowledge and skills will make cycling safer, more useful and more enjoyable and that will make people want to cycle more.  The worst "bicycle advocacy" is using fear to promote cycling.  But that's what the "bicycle advocates do.

The Falacy of "Prefered Use"

Bike lanes are supposed to benefit cyclists by giving the a "preferred" place to ride.  However, this preference may not be worth much.  Here's a comparison to some real preferred lanes in Preferential Use… oh wait, nevermind.  With "Bicycle Friendly" who needs enemies.


Encouragement -- Useful Encouragement Activities

Encouragement of bicycle transportation should not be an activity by itself; encouragement must be part of improving cycling for those who choose to cycle.  "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles."

Testing, adjusting and marking vehicle detector loops (as shown at right) is one of the best ways to encourage cycling safely.  However, BFC fails to promote this beneficial form of encouragement.  One wonders whether they are opposed to cyclists following the rules of the road.

Cyclists must be trained and encouraged to operate according to the rules of the road.  Highway officials must provide roads well designed to accommodate such bicycle traffic.  Government must provide a legal environment that clearly requires such operation and in a supportive social environment.  Other factors are also significant, such as better parking for bicycles and carriage of bicycles by mass transit.  Activities that improve these factors for cyclists provide the best encouragement.


Footnotes

[1] Fred Oswald photo from Cleveland, OH (exit from NASA GRC)

[2] Fred Oswald photo from Cleveland, OH.  (Note: That's not a "dishrack" wheelbender bike rack.  It's a movable fence behind the rack.)

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© Copyright 2003-2017 Fred Oswald and LAB Reform.  May be copied with attribution.
Some materials may have been reproduced under fair use guidelines or with permission of the original author.
The author is a Professional Engineer in Ohio and a certified bicycling safety instructor.
Minor update Apr. 2017