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Re: WorldTransport Forum Re:Legal redefinition of bicycles as public transport?

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  • Michael Yeates
    Thanks Richard ... Yes agreed ... so in the context of Velib and other public bike systems, as distinct from private owned and personally used bikes, it may
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 17, 2008
      Thanks Richard ...

      Yes agreed ... so in the context of Velib and other public bike systems, as distinct from private owned and personally used bikes, it may also help to start from defining what public transport is ie using a logic similar to Richard's below.

      That is, rather than trying to define various forms of human or motor powered modes or vehicles, try thinking of public v private modes .... such that it is not so much about ownership, rather it is about the way the vehicle or mode is used and able to be used and by whom ...  ie about common or inclusive right to use, or accessibility to use ie availability to use ... and under what conditions ... hence the personal private use only bike or boat is not public, but the same vehicle could be public if made available for others to "freely" use ... with or without conditions ... indeed it would seem possible the same vehicle could be both but at different times.

      Bicycles, and most other modes then fit ... eg private planes, boats, bikes, buses, trains and cars ... but public planes, boats, bikes, buses, trains, and cars etc ...?

      So is it as the subject line implies a "Legal redefinition of bicycles as public transport?" or is it a "Legal redefinition of public transport to include bicycles and other new ways of providing public transport?" ??

      Or is it the operating and/or management "system" that manages and/or places conditions on use ie eg that creates the difference between a typical bike hire and Velib ... and creates some debate as to whether one is private transport and the other public transport?

      The "New Mobility" brand may help ... if only to help expose what may be symptoms of old assumptions, narrow descriptions and/or preferential prejudices distorting the way "new" modes of transport are perceived.

      Another problem is the age old definition of what is or is not a bicycle ... faced by those in the sport of racing cycling ... which suggests to me that is definitely NOT the way to go ... as the cycling racing sport definition excludes all sorts of HPVs ...!

      And to expand that view, I can imagine a system similar to Velib that provides a range of vehicles for people with mobility disabilities ...!

      In fact Velib etc as a concept is (simply?) an advanced form of vehicle hire with wide spread closely spaced hire facilities to give high levels of user convenience .... and therefore is NOT necessarily limited to bicycles that conform with the cycling racing sport definition and not necessarily only to HPVs either ... imagine for example Velib vehicles with solar recharged, electric assist?


      At 09:25 PM 17/07/2008, Richard Allsop wrote:

      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
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