Organizing for Bicycle Transportation Engineering


Just as with any other engineering discipline, developing and advancing Bicycle Transportation Engineering for the benefit of cyclists and of society in general requires a technical society. There are the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Institute of Traffic and Transportation Engineers, the American Society of  Civil Engineers, and many others.

Mission Statement

Such a society needs a mission statement to define and explain its mission. See Mission Statement

Organizational Outline

Each such society requires a more detailed plan that explains how the mission statement will be carried out. See Organization

Need for a Political Organizational Strategy

The typical engineering society does not need to state its strategy. It exists to formalize the scientific and engineering knowledge of its discipline as that knowledge improves.  Bicycle Transportation Engineering is in a rather different situation than the typical engineering discipline. In the typical situation, the engineering society determines design standards according to the state of scientific and engineering knowledge at the time. Starting from small beginnings, the scope and accuracy of knowledge improve, and the society improves the standards for design accordingly. These standards are naturally adopted by government and by society in general as specifying the proper designs to be used. One can say that accurate knowledge leads society, at least in the engineering fields.

This situation is exactly reversed in the case of Bicycle Transportation Engineering. Government had imposed standard designs for bicycle transportation facilities and for bicycles without any scientific or engineering justification; generally in defiance of the knowledge that then existed. Since then, government has supported a myriad of investigations to support its position. The government is operating according to the hypothesis that bicyclists are inferior to motorists, an hypothesis that has no scientific support, in contrast to the hypothesis that cyclists are equal to motorists, an hypothesis that has great scientific support. Since the government's investigations are intended to support an hypothesis that is very unlikely to be correct, the papers reporting those investigations can report "success" only by careless or misleading work, as they do. In short, instead of accurate engineering knowledge leading government and society, the normal pattern, in Bicycle Transportation Engineering we have government imposing upon society design standards that are based on false assumptions.

Therefore, the task of Bicycle Transportation Engineers is not only to determine proper standards (a task largely done long before), but to organize to replace the false governmental standards with accurate ones, against the political forces that imposed the false standards. Such a task that combines both engineering and politics can be performed only with a strategy that is based on understanding of the political forces that may assist or oppose. See Bicycle Politics

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