Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My two cents on the cyclist vs motorist debate

This blog was inspired by one similar posted at http://james.wanless.info/2012/05/21/why-anti-cyclists-have-it-wrong/. It seems that our Canadian counterparts face the same Melbournian debate when it comes to the cyclist vs the motorist. Finding the extremities of the responses from both sides of the fence equally disturbing I thought I should attempt to sway a few votes in an attempt to make my riding and driving experiences less stressful.

James Wanless’ blog (link above) takes the cycling vs motoring debate and offers the most balanced, emotionally disconnected and unbiased view I have had the pleasure of reading. He considers the issues faced from both sides and then appeals, with strong arguments, to the “anti-cylist” to weigh up the financial, economical, environmental and health benefits that can be contributed by a more “bike friendly” society.  

I’ve found it surprising that James’ blog would receive any negative feedback, especially from cyclists. For the most part I assume it’s emotionally loaded response with a neglect for the whole point of the piece.

 "In a perfect world we wouldn’t need these dedicated bike lanes,"

What do you base that on? Separating different modes of traffic is essential to safety. Cars, bikes and people have different masses, different acceleration profiles, different reaction times. Not separating them directly contributes to accidents, and causes additional conflict between each.”

The passage of text below was my response to the above comment left by a cyclist responding to the blog.

Fair call, a concept that was documented by Le Corbusier in the 1930s (separating different modes of traffic). I'm sure someone will catch on one day! The problem I present to you is, how then do you account for variance in acceleration profile between cyclists?

Cyclist's masses are, for the best part, similar but we ride for different reasons and therefore at different speeds. I live in Melbourne, which I deem to be a bike-friendly city, and generally stick to roads to avoid the "riff-raff" of inconsistency on the bike lanes and paths. Where do you stop the segregation?

The adaptation of existing thoroughfare in built up areas to include bike lanes will aid in easing the frustration between cyclist and drivers, but for the best part we (motorists and cyclists) need to learn to share the roads together.

I agree with James. Both cyclists and drivers need to be made more accountable for their actions. Stiffer penalties and more adequate policing is by far the most economic solution to raising awareness and inspiring social cohesion.

In Melbourne recently there has been a lot of suggestion in the media and by pressure groups that cyclists sharing the roads should be registered. It's an unrealistic measure due to the cost of setting up such a system, there is also the point that as a cyclist most of us are registered drivers. The idea was met with a great degree of objection from the cycling community. As a cyclist and a motorist who prides themself on following the rules I didn't see this as being a problem. Registration certainly isn't the solution to the issue of safety but it could potentially be a measure that would break down the "them" and "us" attitude.

There is no concise response that will clearly win the debate for either side. Forcing registration of cyclists will deter people from riding but make some motorists happy. Segregating foot, pedal and motored transport will hit all of us in the hip pocket and isn't economically viable. As long as we're (cyclists) are all fighting to make the roads a safer place for everyone, the improvements made will mean more people on bikes.

1 comment:

  1. Found my way here when I looked at your Disqus profile. Thanks for the comment (to which I responded on the original post). Balanced and emotionally disconnected (which I don't often get to) was what I was going for, so thanks for that. I think Australians and Canadians are probably similar in many ways. Cheers.