Bicycle Transportation Engineering
Training & Certification
The Bicycle Transportation Engineering program provides the information about cycling transportation that is essential for any person whose responsibilities include cycling. The person who has successfully completed the program will be able to carry out the cycling aspects of his responsibilities by making cycling transportation safer and more convenient. Of course, that person must also be qualified to perform the other responsibilities of his or her position. As such, completion of the BTE program is a supplementary qualification which provides the information about cycling transportation that was not covered, or was mistaught, by the person's primary course of study and experience. In other words, a person with conventional traffic engineering training is probably not well qualified to design for bicycle traffic, and a person with conventional planning training is probably not well qualified to produce the bicycle parts of transportation plans. Experience has shown the large number of deficiencies in plans and in designs that have been prepared by persons without the special training provided by the Bicycle Transportation Engineering Program. A person who simply has experience, or training, in advocacy is also ill qualified to advocate for bicycle transportation without first learning the scientific discipline of Bicycle Transportation Engineering, and, indeed, much harm has been done by such persons, who are thought by the public and by government to be well informed in the subject but who, in actuality, are advocating dangerous and inconvenient measures. The education provided in earning the Certificate in Bicycle Transportation Engineering aims to correct all of these deficiencies.
The scientific basis of Bicycle Transportation Engineering is the vehicular-cycling principle: Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles. This is not just a political slogan; it is the best that we have worked out from our transportation experience and theory. We treat drivers well, providing for them operating procedures that best combine the physics of wheeled vehicles with human abilities to control those vehicles, and highway designs adapted to both, to produce the socially acceptable balance of the mutually conflicting needs for safety and convenience. That situation is the best that we have been able to devise. There is no evidence that humans driving bicycles are materially different from humans driving automobiles. There is no evidence that humans driving bicycles would have better safety and convenience if they operated according to some other system. There is plenty of evidence that the attempts to make humans driving bicycles operate differently from other drivers have increased the dangers for cyclists and decreased the convenience for cyclists. It is true that to operate any system, the operators must know how to operate it. The operating skills for bicycle driving and for automobile driving are almost identical. Attempts to produce a system that is operated by untrained cyclists have merely made the dangers worse than mere ignorance would cause. There is no substitute known for the normal traffic-driving skills, but these are rather simple and obvious, when properly taught. Therefore, there are good grounds for having cyclists act as drivers of vehicles and for providing the facilities and the societal support for so acting. Bicycle Transportation Engineering is the discipline that describes this situation and provides the designs of cities, facilities, and programs to make cycling both safe and efficient.
Persons applying for admission to the Bicycle Transportation Engineering Program must hold a Certificate in Effective Cycling earned from Effective Cyclists for Transportation.They should have some grounding in elementary engineering or physics for calculations of velocity and acceleration, and for the use of concepts such as traffic volume and density of traffic. They should have some grounding in sociological concepts such as social class, the function of laws, descriptions of populations, standard operating procedures, and human factors relevant to driving of vehicles.
The primary studying will be done at home, although supplementing that study by attending a Seminar in Bicycle Transportation Engineering held by Effective Cyclists for Transportation is recommended. Each student will be assigned an instructor who can answer questions, provide direction and recommendations, suggest other items to study, and arrange for the final examination. The primary text will be Bicycle Transportation, by John Forester, MS, PE. This will be supplemented by other documents in the field of Bicycle Transportation, such as facilities design guides, planning guides, safety studies, and relevant laws.
The fnal examination is in two parts, written and practical, that may, if conditions enable it, be completed in one day. The written part takes the greater part of the time. The questions require thoughtful, complete, and logical answers in essay form, supplemented by the student's diagrams. Some calculations may be required. The practical part is partly a bicycle driving test, of the same type as is given in the Effective Cycling course, but in which the student must exhibit practically perfect behavior, and partly a discussion, by the student, of problem situations encountered en route and presented by the instructor.
At this time, it may be useful to read the articles on this web site under Education, Facilities, and Social, and even Lights, to see the range of subjects necessary to be considered by Bicycle Transportation Engineers.
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