The public probably considers all advocacy concerning bicycle transportation to be of one kind, advocating bicycle transportation as a partial replacement for automobile transportation. That certainly is the official version and policy. However, this view covers over a very complicated situation that contains at least three opposing views and groups.
This is the view that motorists have priority over other roadway users, of which, in these days, only bicyclists present a credible threat.
Since before 1940, the motoring establishment has promoted the idea that bicyclists are unsuitable roadway users, arguing that bicyclists are incapable of obeying the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles, that when they try to obey these rules they endanger themselves, and that, therefore, they should be pushed to the side of the roadway and off it if possible.
Because the motoring establishment also wrote all the bicycle safety literature, this view was our society's official teaching regarding what was called "bike safety". This taught that cyclists' greatest danger was same-direction motor traffic, incorporated into what I termed the cyclist-inferiority superstition: "The cyclist who rides in traffic will either delay the cars, which is a Sin, or, if the cars don't choose to slow down, will be crushed, which is Death, and the Wages of Sin is Death."
As long as bicycle traffic appeared to be diminishing, motorists were satisfied with this view. However, temporary demographic and political factors caused a growth of bicycle traffic in the 1960s (the "bike boom"), which growth persuaded the motoring establishment that it should build facilities that keep bicycle traffic off the normal roadways used by motorists: bike paths and bike lanes, called bikeways. California initiated its bikeway program in the early 1970s, and was followed by the nation.
Needless to say, this program of enforced cyclist inferiority was opposed, as soon as it became public, by the experienced adult cyclists of the time. (Note: these were led by me.)
The availability of private motor transportation has produced enormous social changes. As may be inevitable, views and groups have emerged that advocate anti-motoring views. Any successful anti-motoring program must either eliminate much transportation, as by rebuilding cities to a much denser pattern, or must substitute some alternate form of transportation. A considerable portion of anti-motorists find that bicycle transportation is an attractive target for advocacy.
One would think that the appropriate start for advocating bicycle transportation would be to find out who was already doing it, how they did it, and what their conclusions were. Instead of this reasonable strategy, the anti-motoring "bicycle advocates" (the name they chose for themselves) chose to base their strategy on the anti-cyclist bikeway program that had been invented by the motoring establishment to discriminate against bicycle traffic.
There is no evidence that the anti-motoring bicycle advocates chose their strategy of uniting with the motorists on any rational but cynical basis. Such could have been that since the public had been so misled by the motorists' cyclist-inferiority superstition, more motorists would be converted to bicycling by appealing to whatever motorists believed, despite its disadvantages for cyclists, rather than fighting their inaccurate belief. I have never heard nor read of any bicycle advocate making such an admission. Instead, all the writings and oral statements by bicycle advocates have shown that they passionately believe in both the cyclist-inferiority superstition and the bikeway program that it had produced, and passionately reject evidence for any other hypothesis.
I state here, the subject has been covered at length elsewhere, that there is no evidence to support the cyclist-inferiority superstition and much evidence to support the contrary hypothesis, that cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles. A belief contrary to fact that is so strong as to cause its believers to act contrary to their best interests is one sign of a phobia.
The anti-motoring bicycle advocate is in a difficult position. The anti-motoring position is rife with arguments based on unprovable propositions, such as the ugliness and soul-destroying nature of suburbs, and arguments that are contrary to fact, such as people would not freely choose to live in suburbs, and that General Motors destroyed the streetcar system. The anti-motoring bicycle advocate has chosen to add to the burden of arguing for the anti-motoring position the additional load of arguing for a motorist-invented anti-cyclist program that is contrary to his interests and for which there is no supporting evidence.
One result of this is the style of the arguments made by bicycle advocates. They have two types of argument, one to persuade, one to oppose. Their persuasive arguments are directed at government to take actions that will reduce motoring. Such arguments are soft arguments because they are talking to people who do not choose to oppose them, but merely need urging to take action, frequently of a planning nature. The bicycle advocates' oppositional arguments are directed toward two groups who directly oppose the advocates' planning arguments. One group defends private motoring as a beneficial activity; the other group defends lawful, competent cycling as a beneficial activity.
Discussing the beneficial effect of private motoring is slightly outside this discussion, but a little needs to be said. Private motoring provides the users with a much wider choice of locations and types of necessary and desired activities: employment, residences, social milieu, shopping, cultural activities, social activities. People use motoring because it enables them to receive these benefits, for which they are prepared to spend the costs of motoring. If this were not so, there would not be much motoring.
The bicycle advocates direct particular fury at those who defend lawful, competent cycling. Only these vehicular cyclists have sufficient knowledge of cycling to present accurate and ethical opposition to the bicycle plans of the anti-motoring bicycle advocates, and the bicycle advocates regard them as traitors.
Cyclist advocacy concerns the welfare of cyclists, and one important consideration is safety. The most important item for cyclist safety is for the cyclist to act as the driver of a vehicle, obeying the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles. The law requires this; drivers operating under different rules will drive into collisions. Experience has long shown this to adult cyclists. The car-bike collision statistics demonstrate this.
The second important consideration is that society should treat cyclists as drivers of vehicles. The rest of society, be they motorists on the road, highway engineers in their offices and on the highway, legislators in their halls, and just plain people, should treat cyclists with the same care and consideration that they treat other drivers of vehicles.
Both considerations can be summed up in the vehicular-cycling principle: "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles." This is eminently practical and all parts have been proved. The laws for drivers of vehicles work; roads require little improvement; obeying the rules of the road is easily learnt; the road system generally provides the most direct connections with the shortest travel time.
For decades, vehicular cycling was the general practice of organized cyclists, but it was not formally stated because it did not have to be. The law said that cyclists were drivers of vehicles, and that was that, regardless of what was taught to child bicyclists. However, the bikeway program of the motoring establishment forced vehicular cyclists to formalize their position and to examine its scientific basis. The results demonstrated conclusively that the vehicular-cycling principle was correct. The results also demonstrated that bikeway cycling was more dangerous and less convenient than roadway cycling in accordance with the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles. That is largely because bikeways produce more, and more difficult, conflicts with motor traffic.
It may appear that the above conclusions should be qualified in some way. That is not so. In any genuine scientific or engineering controversy, there is substantial evidence on each side, but in this there is not. The anti-motoring bicycle advocates have never been able to advance any evidence of a scientific or engineering nature to support their claims that bikeway cycling is safer or more convenient than lawful and competent roadway cycling. Lacking such substantive support, they are reduced to irrelevancies, emotionalism, and falsities.
Bicycle advocates and vehicular cyclists have very different expectations for bicycle transportation.
Vehicular cyclists generally have a realistic expectation that is based on experience. That is, bicycle transportation has never been a large part of American transportation, and long-term changes in our urban shape and lifestyle have reduced the opportunities to use it. One can consider that vehicular cyclists consider how best to operate in the environment in which we live. Therefore, except for a few niche markets (such as college campuses), bicycle transportation will be done by those for whom the enjoyment of cycling outweighs the difficulties of doing it.
Bicycle advocates, on the other hand, are condemned to have great expectations because they require that a transportationally significant portion of motoring be switched to bicycling. When specifically considering bicycle transportation (as opposed to rebuilding cities), they argue that bicycle transportation is so attractive and so useful that only the fear of same-direction motor traffic keeps a transportationally significant number of people from using it. Therefore, they argue, building bikeways will produce a transportationally significant switch from motor transportation to bicycle transportation.
This difference in viewpoints causes the bicycle advocates to consider vehicular cyclists to be traitors.
Bicycle advocates and vehicular cyclists have very different social expectations regarding bicycle transportation.
Vehicular cyclists have concluded that cyclists should, for their own safety, to say nothing about political reasons, act as drivers of vehicles. They know that it is unsafe to attempt to use the roads without the appropriate skill. That skill is easy to learn, as demonstrated by the proportion of Americans who have earned motor driving licenses. Vehicular cyclists conclude that attempts to persuade people to take up cycling without the proper skill unethically endanger those people.
Bicycle advocates depend on converting many motorists into cyclists, but they are limited by their belief that cyclists using the roadways are inferior to motorists. Therefore they argue that bikeways make it unnecessary for cyclists to operate as drivers of vehicles and that any claim that one should do so is nothing more than elitism, attempting to preserve bicycle transportation to an elite few.
I was invited to speak to before the Santa Barbara Safe Streets group on Feb. 9, 2007. The Safe Streets group was reacting to advocacy for bikeways and for traffic calming measures on SB streets. The other main speaker was Randall O'Toole, now of the Cato Institute and the organizer of the conferences titled Preserving the American Dream.
I made several points.
My appearance later raised much discussion on an email group "bikeforums.net" with several threads devoted to criticizing my work. The following are some of the uncomplimentary remarks made on bikeforums.net regarding my appearance in Santa Barbara. There were some statements of support for the vehicular cycling position, but these were few and mild considering the number of opposing statements. I offer the following statements as evidence for the conclusions that I have stated above.
The remarks cover the following range of claims:
I suggest that you read the following remarks while bearing in mind the categories of claim listed above.
Most posters to this discussion group use pen names, such as cavemanbiker.
I have added some editorial clarification as to quotations and the like in square brackets. I have added some replies of my own in italics. I have collected remarks into rough categories and have so titled each group.
I want to post this to make it perfectly clear. Whatever he may have been in 1974, John Forester is not a bicycle advocate.
He was recently hired in Santa Barbara to speak to members of the City Council and the Mayor at a workshop they titled `An Inconvenient Path: A workshop on growth, transportation, and the future of Santa Barbara.' The group that hired him is against traffic calming and has ties to pro-growth, pro-car activist organizations.
I was not paid to make this presentation.
John Forester spoke along with Randal O'Toole from Oregon. Both Randal O'Toole and John Forester are on the Speakers Bureau of the American Dream Coalition, a pro-car organization.
I have no knowledge of being on such a Speakers Bureau, or even whether one exists.
I believe that anybody on this forum who tries to influence opinions on road design and bicycle riding techiniques from a viewpoint informed by John Forester is actually trying to influence you to support a pro-growth, pro-car, urban sprawl agenda without you realizing it. These people should not be confused with carrying an actual bike advocacy message.
Just thought you should know. John Forester and his friends at the American Dream Coalition really do get hired by pro-car groups to come and influence local governments. Whatever he may have been a long time ago, John Forester is not a bicycling activist.
He can live with himself just fine because he's not prostituting anything. He's not a cycling advocate plain and simple. He uses cycling advocacy to make cyclists into tools for his true advocacy which is unfettered, car-centric urban develpment. He's laughing at those bike advocates all the way to the bank where he cashes his speaking gig checks.
Pointing out that our present urban shape has understandable causes and that we cyclists have to operate within that shape does not constitute endorsement of that shape.
My point is, that John Forester and his buddies are hired by pro-auto/pro-sprawl groups who actually do fight against cycling. These people are living in the past as this article I snipped that was sponsored by the BofA suggests. Are you going to let a pro-car/pro-sprawl guy living in the 1970s, who hasn't had a new idea since that time, guide and determine your own transportation activism? I certainly hope you're all smarter than that.
In downtown santa barbara you can walk to a corner store in most neighborhoods (and get some really good taqueria food at many of these little markets). But out in any subdivision built after 1960 corner stores are pretty much absent. Some subdivisions are close enough to shopping centers to walk to, but most are not.
Everything has changed since the rise of the auto. Does anybody get bread from the bakery, meat from the butcher, fish from the fish monger anymore? Of course not. You go to the grocery store and load up your car with many bags of groceries all from the same place. And even that's changing. With the rise of the SUV you have the concomitant rise in big-box stores where TP comes in 24 roll packages and pickels come in 5 gallon buckets.
Still, the changing cityscape is a side issue. The real issue is that the people that many take on face value to be bicycle advocates are actually being paid to advocate against the interests of bike riders. Either those people lack morals and are willing to sell out for money or else they truly represent those issues. So next time someone recommends Forester's books or Forester's principles, take them with a grain of that new car smell because that's John Forester's true interest.
It is an interesting falsity that the view that advocating for safe cycling is an immoral sellout to motorists while advocating for unsafe cycling is admirable.
DC, what John Forester actually said should be taken in context with the venue in which he said it.
First of all, he was hired by people who don't want a dime of their tax money to pay for bicycling amenities of any kind.
Secondly, he came to speak to city government and spoke from a position that is not shared by the various cycling and alternative transportation groups in town.
What he said was
`bikeways' did not make cycling safer, that with a good road network, cyclists do not need bikeways. He didn't define `bkeways,' but he lumps bike lanes with bike paths in his term, although they are actually quite different. `In 15 hours, I can teach any 8 year old to bike better than an adult,' he claimed. To my relief, he did not attack bike lanes. Overall, he spoke favorably about bicycling, although he thought that it does not have the potential to relieve much traffic congestion.
This poster is ignorant of the definition of bikeway, which contains three types: bike path, bike lane, and bike route.
In other words, he was helping to make the point that city government need not waste its time or money making improvements that can benefit cyclists because we don't need them and cycling isn't going to relieve traffic anyway because there never will be very many of us. This is not the message that our bicycle coalition and other alternative transportation advocates work to promote. And it's not true, either. John Forester with his speech was speaking against our hard work, lending his name to people who want to support only a single mode of traffic: the automobile.
Our local advocacy groups have worked tirelessly over the years to create a safe and valued regional grid for bicycling. As a result we have more bicycle traffic than many other cities. Our rate is somewhere around 4%, which is much higher than the typical 1% or 2% of other places.
This combines the false claims that bikeways reduce car-bike collisions and that bikeways significantly reduce motoring.
We don't need so-called bicycle advocates lending their big names to forces that would set back all the work we have done.
The point I think many of you are missing is that John Forester and his ilk have a message but it's not about expanding bicycling. It's about reducing it. They want to reduce goverment spending on transportation projects that do not directly benefit the automobile. There are many angle to come at this issue. Some people try to take a public safety angle--we need more lanes on the road otherwise how can emergency vehicles get through. Some from libertarian angle--we don't need goverment trying to socially engineer how we transport ourselves. Some from anti-tax/anti-government angles--we don't need government wasting our hard earned money.
John Forester's angle is to come at this as if he were a bicycle advocate to say that bicyclists don't even want money spent on bicycling. That's HH's angle, too. Why else would HH even care to try and reach a bicyclist who rides 34 miles a day with this message? It's not about the bicycling. It's about the money. It's about frustrated drivers who want more lanes to ease congestion and speed them on their way. What gets in their way? Bicycles, pedestrians, traffic calming, buses and anti-sprawl/slow growth ordinances.
Note that this argument supports money spent on bikeways, which were invented by motorists to prevent delays caused by bicycle traffic.
It's about money. And if they can get us to help them, drink their poison koolaid and believe we are helping ourselves, that's what they'll try to do. Then one day you'll wake up and your sleepy town that had 4% of the public cycling for transportation and plenty of open space along the coast has multi-lane, high-speed arterials with 17 second honks and tacky development as far as you can see.
Ahem. The topic of this thread is that John Forester was hired along with Randal O'Tool to come and present a speech to support an organization that works against what local bicycle advocacy organizations work toward. This so-called bicycle advocate will work against real bicycle advocates in your city too if you're willing to pay his honorarium fee.
This is false. I was not paid to speak, although I was reimbursed for direct travel expenses.
Originally Posted by invisiblehand
could you connect the dots to the following paragraph which I found surprising?
Originally Posted by sbhikes
His first fault is to believe that all people who wish to see better conditions for cyclists have a fear of being hit from behind. Then he decides to call these people with a fear of being hit behind `victims', setting up his whole silly exercise.
Quote: [From Forester's works]
"Some writers in the newsgroup rec.bicycles.soc say that the cyclist-inferiority phobia does not exist. However, they have not explained why they hold this opinion. They may believe that American cycling opinion does not overexaggerate the fear of motor traffic from behind and drive American cycling policy in unwise directions..." [End of quotation]
American cycling opinion is reduced to having a single source: a fear of motor traffic from behind. There is no other consideration for the rest of the article for what American cycling opinion (whatever the heck that really is) actually might be.
Quote: [From Forester's works]
"Is fear of motor traffic from behind a `persistent fear of a circumscribed stimulus?' Yes, it is. The victim fears a specific situation, motor traffic from behind while riding a bicycle. "[End of quotation]
Now these poor souls are victims of an illness.
Quote: [From Forester's works]
"Does exposure to motor traffic from behind, while riding a bicycle, almost invariably provoke an immediate anxiety response. Certainly it does, and even contemplating the exposure of others to the stimulus causes anxiety response, as when people organize political committees to obtain protection from the condition that they fear." [End of quotation]
Basically here he is saying that bicycle advocates, the victims above, are just sick phobics and their advocacy is just an anxiety response.
Almost all, indeed all the significant part, of American governmental policy and practice concerning bicycle transportation is the bikeway program that these people advocate. Bikeways were invented by motorists to push bicycle traffic aside, which has been their only verifiable result, and they receive public support only because of the greatly exaggerated fear of same-direction motor traffic. Of course, these bicycle advocates dislike being labelled as suffering from a phobia. Likewise, they hate for their advocacy of bikeways to be demonstrated to be playing the stooge for the motoring interests. No wonder that they try to deny all.
The fear of humans being hit or attacked from behind comes from our natural human instincts from thousands of years ago when it was a more serious matter then it is is now. There is nothing wrong with this instinct it is part of our nature as humans to have this. There is also nothing we can do about it. Some think it is part of our genetic code. Being called a victim because of this is way out of line, even for JF to say. Unless he does not count himself as a human with similar genetic codeing as everyone else. Or is he trying to make excuses & accusations to make up for his weakness as a human because he too has these natural fears from thousands of years ago? Humans used to be attacked by the wild beasts of the field when we were hunters & gatherers, so our fear of being attacked from behind & how to react to it was ingrained into us & is still with us to this day.
Over 3/4 of collisions with motor vehicles are not from the rear. They are merging & intersecting collisions. In a lot of these cases the cyclist saw the vehicle right before the impact happened but there nothing that could be done to avoid it. Humans were probably rarely if ever attacked from the wild beasts fo the field from the side, head on or as an intersecting attack. This would have given us more of an advantage because we would see the attacking animal and have a better chance at avoiding it or defending ourselves. Because of this it was never ingrained into our genetic makeup to have instincts on how to deal with this. Yet over 3/4 of collisions with motor vehicles happen in this manner.
Maybe JF ought to focus his energies on that fact rather call us victims because of our natural instincts with getting hit from behind.
This is another version of denying the cyclist-inferiority phobia. N_C claims that this is not a phobia, an unnatural fear, but is a natural fear that is genetically built into us. This claim is disproved by cyclists from other nations, such as the British cycling tradition in which I was raised, which emphasized that cyclists were legitimate roadway users who had to obey the rules of the road, just like other drivers. Such cyclists do not have the exaggerated fear of same-direction motor traffic displayed by almost all Americans without extensive cycling experience. The difference in national attitudes has been noticeable to me from my first American experiences.
Furthermore, even if the fear of same-direction motor traffic were a natural fear, it would be dangerous public policy to succumb to that fear by producing social policy, the cyclist-inferiority policy, and facilities, bikeways, that increase the danger and decrease the acceptance of cycling.
Thanks for the link Diane,
I trawled through a few of the articles on JF's website. He does like to go on, and on.... `The Existence of the cyclist-inferiority phobia' is an absurd piece of conjecture.
I think what he really means (in relation to easily discouraged cycle beginners) is:
1. The new cyclist finds them self on the road without a big comfy box around them...
2. Wow! that car was going faster than me, this isn't like driving at all, I'd better keep right out of the way or I might get hurt.
3. My legs are tired, I'm out of breath and I havent made it to the shops yet.
4. F*(k this for a game of soldiers, where's me car?
1. I tried it, liked it (but felt tired and a bit out of place at first).
2. Got into it, got fitter, rode further and gained experience and confidence on the road.
3. Never looked back! (except before turns )
This writer presents a reasonable picture of a new cyclist who does not suffer from the cyclist-inferiority phobia, and who becomes more confident with experience. However, the absence of phobia in one example does nothing to refute the fact of persistent and successful demands that American policy regarding bicycle transportation be based on the combination of the fear of same-direction traffic and the bikeways that are justified by it.
I've pointed out before the obvious COI present with Foresters relationship with his newfound friends at the ADC.
In that quote you've got there above, I'd like to point out another of his failings. I know of 12,000 professional, voluntary transportational cyclists that support themselves entirely through cycling, not the sale of bicycles or accessories or infrastructure. There were likely more when he made that ridiculous statement.
This writer is referring to my statement that only a handful of people earn their living through cycling advocacy, one being me. The writer is obviously claiming that those in the bike planning profession also qualify, which is the class that I was specifically denying should be considered as cycling advocates, because they are only bicycle advocates.
John Forester is a divisive troll & will likely always be so. Thankfully he is not long for this world.
Forester is an anti-populist, anti- bicycling, anti incredible utility bicycles provide for riders of all abilities.
Predicate his notions on the rest of america, and less people will bicycle. The American Dream coalition is playing Forester like a fool for their automotive folly agenda.
Forester is directly advocating against popular increases in bicycling as transportation. what a piece of work, and that ain't flattering.
Forester is directly advocating against popular increases in bicycling as transportation.
I have no interest in wading thru foresters admittedly anti-populist bicycling spiel to prove he is anti-populist bicycling. he damnifies transportational bicyclists often.
forester is anti-populist bicycling. he is pro-auto, he speaks for the pro sprawl, pro-auto group the american dream coalition.
I imagine the american dream coalition heard about forester. `Oh, here's a cyclist that has written a book that doesn't believe transportational bicycling will increase? and his dogma meshes well with our pro-auto blather? PERFECT'
John forester should be ashamed of himself. He speaks often against the potential bikes have for transortation. He wrongly and damnifies, dismisses increases in the popularity of utility cycling.
Colonel Pope would likely put a pump thru his spokes if they met up on a ride.
John forester is anti-cyclist. his acolytes in A&S are 'good enough for me' chestbeaters that are also against encouraging increases in bicycling as utility and transportation in america.
it is apparant car owners don't have a consensus to compromise for bicyclists on the roads. and yet we're all taking part. john forester would like to limit greater populist use of bikes for transportation, and the american dream coalition agrees.
a pro-sprawl, anti bicycling platform is what the american dream coalition propogates by using john forester as a willing pawn.
john forester is against populist bicycling and a tool for the american dream coalition.
yada yada yada. you must be a foresterite plebe, closet. but who cares? cycling is so much more organic and far reaching.
john forester is clearly a tool against populist bicycling in america. his demands on riders and his allegiance with the american dream coalition is proof positive.
cars have nothing to do with walking displacement? hahahaha.
prior to WWII, over half of personal trips were by walking, bicycle, or public transportation.
the rise of the auto, and society's growing and unecessary dependance on the auto, has indirectly led to obesity, heart disease, and a society that is out of touch with its communities.
the American dream coalition seeks to perpetuate the flaws inherent in autocentric communities.
John forester is complicit in its' vision of american sprawl. Shame, john, shame.
i doubt private auto traffic congestion has anything but NEGATIVE contributions towards american value of goods transported, rough stuff. except the oil industry.
Pro car and anti bike, john forester is complicit in damnifying bikes as transportation. and roughstuff, you're against bikes as transportation as well.
seems like some bicyclists are for greater bike use, both for transportation and recreation. some like john forester and rough stuff are not.
forester is now attempting to swaw communities against redesign of public space away from auto-centric road designs that trend to leave less people out biking.
forester now collects speakers honorariums speaking for a group advocating the supremacy of the automobile. he will come to your community and attempt to undo positive bike advocacy efforts that increase ridership.
john forester is the anti-cyclist.
Can't have all those helmetless, blue jean wearing, wal-mart bike riding transportational cyclists out giving american serious road cyclists a poor image now, can we?
I wonder how much vehicular cycling mr forester does anymore, versus scowling while driving past transportational bicyclists on wal mart bikes in blue jeans?
my biggest objection is foresters' insistence that only 'serious' cyclists have any business riding a bike.
what an elitist predication! I'm envisioning him scowling as he drives past helemtless, bluejean wearing, wal-mart bike riding transportational cyclists on their way to work.
biking is a populist activity, and more butts on bikes IS a good thing, for individuals health, for the good of the planet, for the good of a community.
Originally Posted by Bekologist
Forester is directly advocating against popular increases in bicycling as transportation.
The main point I get out of all of this is that Forester does not see widespread promotion of cycling to non-vehicular cyclists as an effective way to reduce automobile usage, which is why the American Dream Coalition likes him so much; he'd rather keep cycling an elite activity practiced by only the few cyclists that feel comfortable riding in the proscribed Forester method.
The above remarks show the extent to which the cyclist-inferiority phobia affects social attitudes. Since that phobia claims that cyclists are inferior to motorists, then cyclists do not have the ability to act like drivers. Therefore, to expand bicycle transportation, those bicycle users who are unable to obey the rules of the road should be praised. Therefore, anyone who advocates obeying the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles has to be motivated by some snobbish desire to restrict cycling to some presumed elite few. So far as I am concerned, my evaluation of a cyclist in transportational terms depends on the extent to which he obeys the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles, and nothing else. That is shown by the contents of my Cyclist Proficiency Score Sheet.
sounds like a political philosophy, steve. i don't agree with foresters assessment of wide outside lanes doing any of that for the greater cycling public. the REALITY of wide outside lanes is most cyclists hug the curb, leaving them in a less visible road position, allows traffic to clog all width of a wide lane and encourage greater ambiguity in bicyclists position on a road.
john forester now works directly against regional bike networks designed and implemented to enhance cycling in communities. john forester is the anti-cyclist.
i think the difference, chip, is that cars get to park and use the wide shoulder, and the entire width of wide outside lanes, versus bike specific infrastructure. And with mr foresters allegiance with the american dream coalition, cars should not be excluded from any part of the roadway.
look at what happens in Europe and % of transportation by cycling when you add bicycle specific infrastructure integral with public rights of way, chip.
I don't think so, chip, there are serious anti-facilities forces at work to remove bike specific infrastructure all over the country, and foresters' allegiance with the american dream coalition is backed by much bigger `Guns' than transportational cyclist advocacy groups.
You've probably seen plenty of grassroots land-use lobbying groups pop up, they're all over the place. Families with inherited farms and so forth. Follow the funding, and you'll find them founded and funded through commercial development groups. Plenty of homeowners and neighborhood associations fall for it, and wind up with high density developments and walmarts crowding them out. They had some good points, but they wound up supporting unexpected results.
You've probably seen junker car impounding laws pop up, lobbied for by environmental or neighborhood grassroots groups. Follow the funding, and you'll find new car dealers. Plenty of neighborhood associations fall for it, and the local car salesmen cruise the neighborhoods reporting any form of transportation that might look abandoned. They had some good points, but they wound up supporting unexpected results.
John Forester smells like astroturf. Why is anyone stupid enough to fall for this? He's got some good points, but don't fall for that without looking for what they support, and who supports it. Sure, his main points make sense in some situations, but add them up and you get absolutely no action on behalf of the represented group, and benefits for the opposing groups. Opposing groups being anyone who doesn't immediately benefit from cycling, a long and lucrative list. His only mistake was being ahead of his time, trying to market this approach long before the big astroturf movement.
We're going to see a lot more of this. More `advocates' popping up, representing all cyclists in support of pretty sounding stuff. And maybe even representatives paid to cruise online bulletin boards, rounding up support for silly things like this. It wouldn't be the first time.
As far as Forester's actions are concerned, this remark is based on the belief that, because he cannot be serving a cycling interest, he must be serving some hidden economic interest, even though the writer cannot identify any such interest. Yes, the writer identifies the interests that he thinks oppose cycling, but he presents no evidence that ties Forester to any of these. The writer fails to recognize, possibly cannot recognize, that Forester is serving a valid cycling interest, that of lawful, competent cyclists. Such blindness can be attributed to the combination of anti-motoring and cyclist-inferiority emotionalism.
Originally Posted by chipcom
Where's the evidence? This little quote is just more proof that Forester lives in an ivory tower disconnected from reality and the world as it is today. HH, care to take up the guantlet I just threw down? I call BS.
I noticed that myself.
I'd bet money-- if I had money -- that his data comes from police reports. According to compiled police reports, cyclist error is involved in 80% of bike-car collisions. There are several reasons to doubt the accuracy of police report conclusions, including law-abiding riding being reported as `cyclist error,' failure to interview the cyclist, etc.
This writer is ignorant of the literature. I use the statistics of the Cross report, which contains the best statistical investigation of car-bike collisions that has been done, including detailed investigation of every one listed. I also use the more general statistics of several reports by the National Safety Council, the Cyclists' Touring Club, and concerning the League of American Wheelmen. So far as I know, there are no better reports.
I-Like-To-Bike, real name probably Stanley Batt; I recognize his style
He uses the studies cited over and over to reach conclusions that none of the original researchers made. Note the lack of any definition or even recording of accident severity. The Cross Studies give no indication of the exposure rates. That is, if a large number of accidents occur on the far right of the roadway, what is the percentage of time cyclists ride in that exposure area. If few cyclists are cycling down the middle of busy high speed arterials, Forester would discover how safe that location is because of the relatively few accidents recorded. Better yet he ignores the difference in expected severities of bike-car collisions when comparing to the scrapped knees of 8 year olds riding on the playground.
Take careful note of the evidence presented. Most often it is his own or a handful of carefully parse studies that never drew the conclusions that he does from the gathered data. Often Forester fabricates the missing data for those studies to fill in for the immense gaps in the data.
This writer is a detailed liar. He states that it is incorrect, when reviewing studies made in a particular area, to consider those studies. Presumably an investigator should review only studies outside the field of interest? There are few studies available in the field of car-bike collisions, and I have used the best of these and some of my own analyses. I have never stated that any one lateral roadway position is proved by any study to be either safer or more dangerous than another. I haven't done so because no study contains the date from which this could be derived.
The writer claims that I compare rates of injuries caused by car-bike collisions with those incurred on playgrounds. I have never done that, but have separated out those caused by car-bike collisions from all others wherever that can be done.
The writer claims that it is incorrect to draw conclusions from any study that are not already reached by its authors. The conclusions stated in a research paper depend on two factors. The first is the hypothesis that the authors were seeking to test through the data that they gathered. The second is the ability, or willingness, of the authors to consider conclusions about other hypotheses that are deducible from the data. This author is either utterly ignorant of scientific procedure, or is willing to lie his way to his desired conclusion.
For instance his assumption about cycling populations that he claims have `good' safety records actually practice undefined Vehicular Cycling techniques in some significant manner, and it is those undefined /unmeasuredVC techniques that are the sole explanation for the alleged superior safety record. He pulls that stunt often, most obscenely when comparing grossly different populations such as 8 year olds with adults, that no one measured for Vehicular Cycling practices.
This writer has obviously read the reports. He is either so blinded by his psychological condition (whatever it may be), or he is willing to lie his way to his desired conclusion. Up to 1980 or so, club cyclists, with whom I rode a great deal, were almost the only American cycling population that exhibited general vehicular-cycling behavior. I did not learn it from them, for I had already brought the idea from my English cycling, but American club cycling behavior enabled me to formalize my descriptions of that behavior. Later, I measured the behavior, on the road, in traffic, of several cycling groups: club cyclists; general public adult cyclists in Davis, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Sunnyvale; students completing my Effective Cycling classes from ages 8 to mature adults. Club cyclist and student cyclist scores averaged about 95%; general public adult cycling populations averaged about a failing 60%. The accident rates reported in several studies of general public and of club cyclists showed that club cyclists had car-bike collision rates only 75% of those of the general cycling public. The reports of cycling club accidents showed that the strongest factor in reducing accidents was the first four years of club cycling experience, which correlates well with learning vehicular cycling behavior. At no time did I ever compare the unmeasured cycling behavior of 8-year-old cyclists with the unmeasured cycling behavior of adults; I compared only the actual measured behavior of the groups.
Originally Posted by invisiblehand
I understand his beliefs to be that anyone could be taught how to ride safely in a relatively short time.
To be more precise, Forester claims that anyone can be taught what he is teaching. Period. There is no known relationship between being taught and tested on Forester's selected material, and any effect, safety or otherwise, short term or long term for the `successful' students.
This is Stanley Batt's standard piling of what he claims to be valid criticism upon more of the same. Here is his routine. There is no proof that disobeying the rules of the road is more dangerous than obeying them. Obeying the rules of the road is a very difficult task. Forester's measurements of the traffic behavior of student cyclists at the end of the course do not demonstrate learning. There is no proof that the general club cycling population rode in a vehicular manner. It goes on and on.
However, here is the point. In science there is no proof (although there can be disproof). All scientific conclusions must be judged according to the weight of the evidence. There is reasonable evidence for all of the points that Batt criticizes, and, moreover, they all fit into a picture of the importance of obeying the rules of the road and the practicality of learning to do so.
On the other side, neither Batt nor anybody else has produced any evidence for the claims of the bicycle advocates that bikeways and their cyclist-inferiority cycling style reduce the cyclist accident rate, that bikeways reduce the level of skill required for safe cycling, that bikeways produce a transportationally significant reduction of motoring. Batt studiously avoids judging according to the weight of the evidence, limiting himself to questioning only the evidence supporting vehicular cycling.
A question from someone else:
I recall reading the example you reference (vaguely) ... this is on his website, right? But I don't recall him over-stating the evidence nor obfuscating the problems with the data. Could you explain your point in more detail?
Read this: http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/Social/aaas94.htm
For a belly whopper analysis of another color, read: http://www.johnforester.com/Articles...l/natattit.htm
All about National Attitudes as determined by Forester the Scientist.
Another Forester funny is his description of his self described death defying ride on the bike path of Palo Alto. I know it is on his web site somewhere. If anyone knows the URL please post; I need a refresh of my laughing cells. It's hilarious because he is serious!
These are Stanley Batt all over again. The first paper he denigrates is titled: Cycling Transportation Policy: How the Conflict Between Popular Emotions and Knowledge Affects the Scientific Process, presented before the Session for Commuter Transportation of the American Association for the Advance of Science, Pacific Division, 1994. It is an account of the effect of the fear of same-direction motor traffic on the development of American policy regarding bicycle transportation, as derived from my own experience. The second paper that he denigrates is titled: Improving Bicyclists' Traffic Behavior by Changing National Attitudes, presented to the 1988 Annual Convention of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. It describes the typical attitudes toward bicycle transportation in several nations, on the basis of my reading, of reports by other cyclists, and of my own experience. It argues that typical cyclist behavior is determined by national attitudes, and it further suggests that if it is desired to change typical cyclist behavior it is necessary to change the national attitude toward it. In effect, to improve the behavior of American cycling population, it will be necessary to change from a national attitude of cyclist inferiority to one of cyclist equality, otherwise known as vehicular cycling.
Batt, naturally, hates these conclusions, but he limits himself to describing these papers as humorous, because he has no specific criticism of inaccuracy.
Batt finds hilarious my account of my self-described death-defying ride on a bike path in Palo Alto, hilarious because I think of this as carrying a serious meaning. I had commuted along Middlefield Road for more than a year with no trouble at all. Middlefield Road is an arterial running through a part of town with short residential blocks. Then cyclists using Middlefield Road were required by Palo Alto ordinance to ride on the sidepath that had been built, basically a slightly reworked sidewalk., on the grounds that using the roadway was too dangerous. I tested the excuse of that law by attempting to ride that sidepath at the same time of day, at the same speed, and assuming the same right-of-way as I had used on the roadway before. I averaged 0.7 mile between collision situations that I was able to avoid only because I recognized the possibilities and had superb bicycle handling skills. On another bit of Palo Alto sidepath I tried again, and was so nearly killed, escaping a head-on collision with a car only by luck, that I swore off all such testing.
I consider this experience similar to testing on oneself a potentially dangerous drug, or test flying an airplane to near its critically dangerous envelope. However, Batt thinks this hilarious, for what reason he does not say. Batt's evaluation is the antic of an ideologue so smitten that he has lost the ability understand himself.