Friday, 27 August 2010

does segregation exclude integration

So it seems that there are two groups of people who ride bikes – ones who would like to ride on the roads, and the ones who would like separate infrastructure. If  you haven’t noticed I belong to the second group.  It’s been pointed out to me, that my advocacy of segregation will lead to a situation where a person on a bicycle entering the road with one wheel, by mistake even, will be first abused and then probably murdered by white, middle aged blokes driving black cabs or Addison-Lee cars. So instead of spending money on separate infrastructure, which would allow people of all ages and levels of fitness to ride bicycles, we should focus on training the aforementioned men to behave, be polite and courteous to other road users.
First things first – there is no amount of training that can change some people. What does it though is peer pressure. This is what we are seeing now – because drivers are the majority they cannot relate to people on bicycles and therefore can’t see their faulty behaviour and are not scrutinised by their peers. Let’s reverse that situation. Imagine that 98% of people cycle – a person in a cab who shouts at cyclist would be either ostracized or beaten to bloody pulp with dlocks, depending on which part of the world it would happen.
Secondly segregated infrastructure doesn’t mean banning bicycles from the roads. Segregated cycle paths mean more people riding their bikes, which in turns mean less cars. It also means that people in cars are also people who ride bikes. Which in turn means they understand what it’s like to ride a bicycle on the road.  Less cars on the roads means more room for people on bikes, it means bicycles having priority over cars.  Can you see here a threat to people who want to ride their bikes on the road?
For some reason separate cycling infrastructure hasn’t killed cycling in Holland, it hasn’t killed cycling in Denmark. Vehicular cycling on the other hand is killing cycling in UK. Vehicular cycling is elitist, it’s for mostly young, male athletes on carbon bikes who like to boast about breaching 30mph average speed on their commute. It’s not inclusive and it lacks appeal for other groups of people. Separate infrastructure is for everyone and doesn’t stop you from using the road. Look at the Netherlands – they can cycle on roads (except motorways, same as in UK) , and yet they choose to use their brilliant cycling infrastructure. And they have the highest modal share for cycling in the world while UK gets up to 2% on a sunny day.  

1 comment:

  1. Completely agree with you on this. It feels to me like we cyclists are often represented by groups that are really anti-segregation. But these are exactly the wrong people to represent cyclists because they only represent the kind of hardcore who cycle anyhow on our hopelessly car-centric streets. Deeply political statement to make and probably a little bit of an exaggeration but done to make a point....