I am the founder of cycling transportation engineering. Evaluating that achievement requires an understanding of the situation before I started work in that field in 1972.
In 1972 cycling science had been an intellectual backwater for decades, particularly in the U.S. where adult cycling had practically disappeared before 1920.
While mechanical details of the European bicycle had been improved over the decades, little thought had been given to how the machine should be used. In Europe, the hard-won cycling knowledge that most people had possessed before the post-WW II motorization was dying out, while in the U.S. simple-minded superstitions passed for knowledge, except, to some extent, among the few adult cyclists.
However, by 1970 the baby boom and sub-urbanization, among other changes, had greatly increased the number of cyclists and had aroused governmental concern about the so-called bicycle problem. Bicycles were considered to be bothdangerous toys and dangerous causes of traffic congestion and delay. Different arms of government set out to solve what they considered to be the bicycle problems. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission declared that every bicycle in America was a "toy or other article intended for use by children" and proceeded to regulate bicycles as dangerous toys rather than as vehicles for business or pleasure. The government of California, and later the U.S. government and other states, tried to get bicycles off the roads and onto bikeways to the the greatest practical extent.
The CPSC's bicycle regulation was founded on many errors: the anti-business superstition that most of the injuries to cyclists were caused by defective bicycle design, the concept that all bicycles should be designed for use and maintenance by children, the notion that efficient operation was of negligible importance to cyclists, and just plain engineering ignorance and incompetence. The result specified a bicycle that was certainly unsaleable to adults, probably unusable, and if used would be dangerous.
The bikeway effort was founded on similar errors but supported by a much more powerful superstition. The superstition held that the cyclist who rode in traffic would either delay the cars, which was Sin, or would be squashed, which was Death, and the wages of Sin are Death. The highway establishment found that this was a very convenient dogma; it exonerated motorists while frightening cyclists off the roads. It became the basis for American bike-safety education and thereby strengthened its grip upon the beliefs of the public.
Misled by this superstition, both the highway establishment and the general public foresaw roads plugged with hordes of new cyclists, delaying motorists and causing accidents. Since prohibiting cycling was politically impossible, and particularly impossible when the justification was to let motorists drive fast, their answer was to provide bikeways adjacent to the most important roads and then prohibit cycling on those roads under the guise of bike-safety. The errors are numerous: cyclists rarely delay motorists and nobody had measured the delay, car-bike collisions were only a small part of accidents to cyclists, cars hitting cyclists from behind were only a very small portion of car-bike collisions, the cyclists who used important roads were not ignorant children but adults who knew how to ride in traffic, and the like. The bikeway solution to the largely-imaginary bicycle problem produced designs that could not be practically implemented in urban areas and, if implemented, were inherently more dangerous than normal roads.
As a fourth-generation British cyclist who had lived in America since 1940, I recognized these disasters at their inception. I knew how bicycles ought to operate and how cyclists ought to ride. I had been trained to ride properly and had read the discussions of bikeways in the British cycling press of the 1930s and 1940s. I knew that cyclists ought to use the same methods as other drivers and that bikeways were worse than roads.
At first I thought that I would only have to supply the cycling knowledge that the rest of the cycling world took for granted. However, I discovered that Americans refused to believe even simple facts, such as the cyclist's ability to look over his shoulder to observe traffic behind. Therefore, I set out to establish a scientific basis for cycling transportation and to publish this in two forms, one which would teach proper cycling technique to cyclists and one which would explain the engineering information to those who ought to be using it. This work can be summarized as follows:
I described the differences between the proper cycling technique, which I named the vehicular style because it was similar to driving a car, and the American style, which I named the cyclist-inferiority style because it assumed that the bicycle and cyclist were inferior to the car and motorist.
I analyzed the bicycle-driving task according to recognized traffic-engineering principles and the human-engineering and task-organizational principles of industrial engineering. This showed that the bicycle-driving task was so similar to the motor-vehicle-driving task that both drivers should act in similar ways and according to the same laws.
By analyzing traffic accident statistics I showed that adopting the vehicular style of cycling would be the most effective strategy for reducing the traffic accidents of American cyclists. I also showed that those groups of cyclists whose members were most likely to use the vehicular cycling style had an accident rate only 20% of that for other groups.
By analyzing and comparing bikeway and highway designs and the traffic maneuvers appropriate to each, I showed that modern, well- designed streets and highways provided easier cycling with less skill at a lower accident rate than any practical urban bikeway system.
By analyzing the traffic accidents caused by darkness I showed the vital importance of bicycle headlamps and the grossly dangerous characteristics of the all-reflector system required by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
By experiment and analysis I showed the proper tests for bicycle braking systems, and showed that coaster brakes burned out on hills, contrary to the CPSC's assumption.
By a combination of engineering and legal analysis and by the results of my suit against the CPSC, I showed that there is practically no basis for many of the CPSC's requirements for bicycles, and that some of them are dangerous.
I analyzed traffic laws and their history to show that the special laws that restrict cyclists had been enacted through superstition without any knowledge of what ought to be done, and that these laws generally contradicted traffic engineer ing knowledge.
I developed a training course for adult cyclists (Effective Cycling) in which even beginners learn vehicular-cycling and other club cycling skills in less than 30 class hours, instead of the years postulated by the cyclist-inferiority believers.
I developed a training course in which child cyclists learn to ride in traffic better than average adults in 15 class hours (Intermediate and Elementary Effective Cycling courses).
The basis for the success with children is my simplification of the instructions for driving in traffic. I developed 5 basic principles that even children can understand and obey but which fulfill nearly all needs of even adult drivers.
My experience with large numbers of people, both professionals and laymen, who continue to strongly believe the cyclist-inferiority precepts of "bike-safety" education long after those have been discredited, led me to investigate the sociology and psychology of such problems. I developed the theory of the cyclist-inferiority complex to explain how fear prevents people from accepting new concepts that challenge the basis of that fear, even when the new concepts have overwhelming scientific support.
I became convinced of the inaccuracy of previous theories of how the tension-spoked wheel carries its load. By a simple experiment I demonstrated and published the now-accepted theory that the load is carried by the reduction in tension of the spokes adjacent to the road surface.
I became convinced of the inability of current theories in exercise physiology to explain cyclists' endurance and the proper technique of endurance cycling events. By combining cycling knowledge with well-accepted physiological principles I produced the first theory that explains the facts. Later experimental results by others have supported this theory.
My development of cycling transportation engineering resulted in many articles and conference papers, which are well-summarized in my books Effective Cycling, Effective Cycling Instructor's Manual, Cycling Transportation Engineering and its successor Bicycle Transportation. Winning public acceptance of the scientifically-established vehicular-cycling principle requires well-considered social and political actions. I have been the nation's leader in this combined scientific and political strategy, earning membership in the most important engineering committees and winning cycling's highest political offices.
B.A., English Lit, University of California, Berkeley, 1951
Certificate in Industrial Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1956
M.S., Production Management, California State University, Long Beach, 1964
Registered Industrial Engineer in California
Cycling Literature Award, MAUDEP Bicycling Conference, 1975
Dr. Paul Dudley White Award, for contributions to cycling, League of American Bicyclists, 1996
1955-1972: Industrial engineering and standards engineering for machine manufacturing and aerospace firms, ending as manager of industrial engineering for a high-tech manufacturing corporation.
1963-1968: Lecturer and assistant professor in statistics, especially statistical decision theory, California State Universities at Long Beach and Fullerton.
1972 Established the profession of cycling transportation engineering.
1973 Chairman, adult cycling subcommittee, California Department of Education Traffic Safety Task Force
1974-1975 Sole cyclist representative, California Legislature's Statewide Bicycle Committee
1974-1976 President, California Association of Bicycling Organizations
1975 Developed the Effective Cycling Course.
1976-1977 Advisor, California DOT Bicycle Facilities Committee
1976 Developed and taught the first professional-level seminar in cycling transportation engineering, for the University of California Institute for Transportation Studies
1977-1983 Bicycling Committee of the Transportation Research Board, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences
1977- Organized and operated national Effective Cycling instructor training and qualification program
1978-1984 Director and Vice-President, League of American Wheelmen
1979-1980 President, League of American Wheelmen
1985 Founder, Effective Cycling League
Presented papers at the following conferences:
MAUDEP Bicycle/Pedestrian Conferences; 1972-77
Third International Automotive Safety Congress; 1974
California Transportation and Public Works Conference; 1975
CPSC/NHTSA Bicycle Safety Education Conference; 1977
Transportation Research Board Bikeway Debate; 1977
Transportation Research Board Bicycling Committee; 1980, 1982
ProBike Bicycle Program Administrators' Conferences; 1980, 82, 84, 86, 89, 91
Institute of Transportation Engineers Conference; 1988
League of American Wheelmen-ProBike North West Bicycle Program Administrators' Conference; 1992
Velo Mondiale, Velo City, Pro-Bike Conference, Montreal, 1992
Statistical Selection of Business Strategies; (Irwin) 1968
Effective Cycling; 1975 (sixth ed., The M.I.T. Press, 1992)
Effective Cycling Instructor's Manual; 1977 (fourth ed., Custom Cycle Fitments, 1986)
Cycling Transportation Engineering Handbook; 1977
Effects of Bikelane System Design Upon Cyclists' Traffic Errors; 1978
Policy On Nighttime Protective Equipment; League of American Wheelmen; 1979
Intermediate-Level Cyclist Training Program: Objectives, Techniques and Results; 1981
Elementary-Level Cyclist Training Program: Objectives Techniques and Results; 1982
On-Road Training is Coming Fast; Bicycle Forum #8, Winter 1981-2
Bicycle Transportation; 1983. Second edition, The M.I.T. Press, 1994
Forensic Engineering in Bicycle Accidents, in Attorney's Guide to Engineering; eds Kuperstein & Salters (Matthew Bender), 1986
Effective Cycling at the Elementary Level, Bicycle Forum #16, Summer 1987
Improving Bicyclists' Traffic Behavior By Changing National Attitudes; Inst. of Transportation Engineers Annual Meeting Procs.; 1988
Cycling Knowledge and Cycling's Social Position As Viewed In Literature, 1989 ProBike NW Conference.
Seminar on Liability in All Types of Bicycle Accidents; 1989
What Cyclists Need Today: An Intellectually Respectable Cycling Policy; 1991 ProBike NW Conference
Effective Cycling Video, Writer and Director, (Seidler Productions); 1992
Objective and Psychological Explanations for Differences in the Bicycling Programs of Different Nations; VeloCity International Conference, Montreal, 1992
Understanding Damage to the Front Forks of Bicycles During Deceleration; Cycling Science, Fall 1992
Cycling Transportation Policy: How the Conflict Between Popular Emotions and Knowledge Affects the Scientific Process; Session on Commuter Transportation of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; San Francisco, 1994
Nighttime Safety Equipment Requirements of the CPSC; Consumer Product Safety Commission of the U.S., hearing on nighttime equipment; Washington, DC, 1994
The CPSC Starts to Wonder About Nighttime Car-Bike Collisions; 1995
Signal Clearance Timing for Bicyclists; (with Alan Wachtel, Gary Foxen, and David Pelz); Journal of the Institute of Traffic Engineers, March 1995.
How to Make Biking a Real Alternative? Ecodecision, Royal Society of Canada, Summer 1996.
Bicycle Nighttime Safety Requirements of the CPSC; CPSC meeting March, 1996
Analysis of Papers Presented to the CPSC; 1996
CPSC Reflector Research Program; 1996
CPSC Reflector Research Program Goes Nowhere; 1997
The Bikeway Controversy: Transportation Quarterly, Spring 2001; Vol 55 No 2, p 7-17
Reviews (several of which have caused significant changes) of books, papers, standards and articles on the following subjects:
Acted as consultant or expert witness in cases that involved:
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