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839Re:Legal redefinition of bicycles as public transport?

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  • Richard Allsop
    Jul 17, 2008
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      It may help this discussion to distinguish between two dichotomies that are sometimes confounded, namely public vs private and individual vs collective

      In public transport the travellers use a vehicle or system that is available equally, or at least similarly, to all or some defined subpopulation of citizens.  In private transport the traveller or a mutually agreed group of travellers uses a vehicle which they provide or hire for their exclusive use.

      In individual transport, a traveller or a typically small mutually agreed group of travellers have a vehicle to themselves for as nearly as practicable exactly the journey they wish.   In collective transport, travellers or groups of travellers share a vehicle without prior arrangement or control of who else will be using the vehicle with them, typically for a useful part, but not necessarily the whole of their journey.

      Bicycles or similar provide individual transport.   My own bike provides me with private transport, but a Velib bike in Paris is a form of public transport.   A cycle rickshaw, for example in Dresden or Oxford is individual public transport like a taxi is in those two cities.   Shared taxis are collective public transport.  

      Readers of this message will need no more examples - and of course may find cases where the above definitions are harder to apply or break down completely!

      But if we want to strengthen the legal position of the users of bicycles and similar, we need terminology that stands up to hard logical tests, and to call my own bike public transport doesn't!

      Richard Allsop
      Centre for Transport Studies
      University College London
      Gower Street
      WC1E 6BT  
      Phone +44 20 7679 1555
      Fax     +44 20 7679 1567
      email rea@...
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