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Re: [CG] VC debate on biking blog ecovelo

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  • Herman I. May
    ... I don t necessarily agree with your evaluation, Serge. The excerpt you cited seems pretty accurate to me. There are a few items of context I think could be
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 31 1:55 PM
      On 20090731@14:51CDT, Serge Issakov<serge.issakov@...> wrote:

      > The Forester/VC position is mischaracterized/exaggerated as usual.

      I don't necessarily agree with your evaluation, Serge.

      The excerpt you cited seems pretty accurate to me. There are a few
      items of context I think could be refined, but, overall, I found the
      summary to be pretty accurate ...until the last paragraph. (Though I
      am not so sure training all cyclists to operate in and be competent as
      vehicle operators is attainable or realistic. One has to have that
      desire.)

      Is it not the case that we *DO* feel that the existing transportation
      system is adequate to the task of providing a safe, effective means of
      getting from point "A" to point "B" regardless of the chosen vehicle?

      Is it not the case that most of those clamoring for facilities are
      doing so largely due to psychological apprehensions derived from a
      lack of skill and experience?

      The author loses his objectivity in the final paragraph, when he states:

      "We must find a way to build more separated facilities to make
      bicycling less intimidating to beginners and non-enthusiasts. We also
      need more training in vehicular cycling techniques to build rider
      skill and confidence for dealing with the realities on the ground as
      we build those new facilities."

      Why does he feel facilities and education are equal imperatives?
      Likely because, deep down inside, despite his stated beliefs to the
      contrary, he is not particularly as competent and experienced as he
      thinks himself to be. Like many fearful cyclists, he cannot reconcile
      the psychological from the physical; discriminate the imagined from
      the real.

      Herman
    • Serge Issakov
      Herman, The mischaracterization is this: who support a strictly vehicular approach to bicycling based upon using our current road system In particular, the
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 31 2:23 PM
        Herman,

        The mischaracterization is this:

        "who support a strictly vehicular approach to bicycling based upon using our current road system"

        In particular, the term "strictly" is misleading, because, AFAIK, most VC advocates, certainly including Forester, have no problem with bike paths when they are engineered to appropriate standards.  That's an approach to bicycling that goes beyond strictly VC on our current road system.  It's a strawman argument, and sets up a false dichotomy.

        I think Forester and VC advocacy in general is much closer to what Alan perceives to be the middle than he realizes.

        And here is how Alan summarizes the pro-facilities side: "The separated facilities side argues that until we do more to separate bicyclists from motor vehicles we’ll never see the numbers of bicyclists in the U.S. that we see in some European countries."

        It's posited as if VC advocates disagree with that.  The VC advocacy position is not to disagree with that assertion, but to point out it is moot, since for a whole host of reasons (not the least of which is cost and available space) the U.S. will never see the levels of separation required to make any significant differences in bicycle usage.  Now, that point is debated as well, but not the one he made.  But it's a lot easier to argue "more people will bicycle if we have paths going from anywhere to everywhere" than it is to argue "we can build all those paths even though we lack the space, money and resources to build them", so they prefer to frame the debate as if it is about the former.

        Serge


        On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 1:55 PM, Herman I. May <Herman.May@...> wrote:
         

        On 20090731@14:51CDT, Serge Issakov<serge.issakov@...> wrote:

        > The Forester/VC position is mischaracterized/exaggerated as usual.

        I don't necessarily agree with your evaluation, Serge.

        The excerpt you cited seems pretty accurate to me. There are a few
        items of context I think could be refined, but, overall, I found the
        summary to be pretty accurate ...until the last paragraph. (Though I
        am not so sure training all cyclists to operate in and be competent as
        vehicle operators is attainable or realistic. One has to have that
        desire.)

        Is it not the case that we *DO* feel that the existing transportation
        system is adequate to the task of providing a safe, effective means of
        getting from point "A" to point "B" regardless of the chosen vehicle?

        Is it not the case that most of those clamoring for facilities are
        doing so largely due to psychological apprehensions derived from a
        lack of skill and experience?

        The author loses his objectivity in the final paragraph, when he states:

        "We must find a way to build more separated facilities to make
        bicycling less intimidating to beginners and non-enthusiasts. We also
        need more training in vehicular cycling techniques to build rider
        skill and confidence for dealing with the realities on the ground as
        we build those new facilities."

        Why does he feel facilities and education are equal imperatives?
        Likely because, deep down inside, despite his stated beliefs to the
        contrary, he is not particularly as competent and experienced as he
        thinks himself to be. Like many fearful cyclists, he cannot reconcile
        the psychological from the physical; discriminate the imagined from
        the real.

        Herman

        _

      • John Forester
        I tend to agree more with Herman than with Serge about the accuracy of the Forester VC evaluation. Bike trails are rarely useful for bicycle transportation,
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 31 3:47 PM
          I tend to agree more with Herman than with Serge about the accuracy of the "Forester VC" evaluation. Bike trails are rarely useful for bicycle transportation, compared to the lengths of roads useful for bicycle and motor transportation. While I don't describe well-designed bike trails as inherently dangerous, I note that trails such as the Burke-Gilman had 15mph speed limit signs on them (and I hear now that that has been reduced to 10mph?) to limit the dangers from the chaotic behavior of many users.

          However, I read over many of the entries on the ecovelo blog, and I find nearly all of them very shallow. Most express an obvious desire to greatly increase the amount of bicycle transportation done in America, but nobody considers whether this is a reasonable hope. As Serge notes, America may not choose to devote the funds and space to producing a Dutch system, but that's not the real issue. Certainly, a few places in America, such as Manhattan Island, downtown Boston and Philadelphia, have the density to produce considerably more bicycle transportation, but they also don't have the space to devote to it, as well as being dependent on motor transport. In those places, bicycle transportation is an effective competitor against walking, just as in Amsterdam and Copenhagen. In the spaces where there is space that could be devoted to separated bicycle facilities, by the same reasoning the density is so low and travel distances are so great that bicycle transportation is an ineffective competitor against motoring.

          The idea that any system of bicycling facilities will tempt Americans to transfer many trips from motoring to bicycling, as in the comparison with Amsterdam and Copenhagen, fails to consider the different performance requirements to be met by transportation in the two very different areas. Amsterdam and Copenhagen are walking cities; Atlanta and St. Louis are automotive cities. The economic and social linkages are very different between the two types of city, and transportation has to follow the linkages. Those who expect that bicycle transportation will take over a transportationally significant share of American motor trips don't recognize the magnitude of the social and financial turmoil that would be required to produce their expectation.

          Serge Issakov wrote:
           

          Herman,


          The mischaracterization is this:

          "who support a strictly vehicular approach to bicycling based upon using our current road system"

          In particular, the term "strictly" is misleading, because, AFAIK, most VC advocates, certainly including Forester, have no problem with bike paths when they are engineered to appropriate standards.  That's an approach to bicycling that goes beyond strictly VC on our current road system.  It's a strawman argument, and sets up a false dichotomy.

          I think Forester and VC advocacy in general is much closer to what Alan perceives to be the middle than he realizes.

          And here is how Alan summarizes the pro-facilities side: "The separated facilities side argues that until we do more to separate bicyclists from motor vehicles we’ll never see the numbers of bicyclists in the U.S. that we see in some European countries."

          It's posited as if VC advocates disagree with that.  The VC advocacy position is not to disagree with that assertion, but to point out it is moot, since for a whole host of reasons (not the least of which is cost and available space) the U.S. will never see the levels of separation required to make any significant differences in bicycle usage.  Now, that point is debated as well, but not the one he made.  But it's a lot easier to argue "more people will bicycle if we have paths going from anywhere to everywhere" than it is to argue "we can build all those paths even though we lack the space, money and resources to build them", so they prefer to frame the debate as if it is about the former.

          Serge


          On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 1:55 PM, Herman I. May <Herman.May@kempiweb .net> wrote:
           
          On 20090731@14: 51CDT, Serge Issakov<serge.issakov@ gmail.com> wrote:

          > The Forester/VC position is mischaracterized/ exaggerated  as usual.

          I don't necessarily agree with your evaluation, Serge.

          The excerpt you cited seems pretty accurate to me. There are a few
          items of context I think could be refined, but, overall, I found the
          summary to be pretty accurate ...until the last paragraph. (Though I
          am not so sure training all cyclists to operate in and be competent as
          vehicle operators is attainable or realistic. One has to have that
          desire.)

          Is it not the case that we *DO* feel that the existing transportation
          system is adequate to the task of providing a safe, effective means of
          getting from point "A" to point "B" regardless of the chosen vehicle?

          Is it not the case that most of those clamoring for facilities are
          doing so largely due to psychological apprehensions derived from a
          lack of skill and experience?

          The author loses his objectivity in the final paragraph, when he states:

          "We must find a way to build more separated facilities to make
          bicycling less intimidating to beginners and non-enthusiasts. We also
          need more training in vehicular cycling techniques to build rider
          skill and confidence for dealing with the realities on the ground as
          we build those new facilities."

          Why does he feel facilities and education are equal imperatives?
          Likely because, deep down inside, despite his stated beliefs to the
          contrary, he is not particularly as competent and experienced as he
          thinks himself to be. Like many fearful cyclists, he cannot reconcile
          the psychological from the physical; discriminate the imagined from
          the real.

          Herman
          _


          -- 
          John Forester, MS, PE
          Bicycle Transportation Engineer
          7585 Church St. Lemon Grove CA 91945-2306
          619-644-5481    forester@...
          www.johnforester.com
        • Peter Rosenfeld
          Before some pro-facility person jumps on this, I d like to mention that there are some minor exceptions to Mr. Forester s excellent description of dense,
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 1, 2009
            Before some pro-facility person jumps on this, I'd like to mention that there are some minor exceptions to Mr. Forester's excellent description of dense, walking cities, which don't have the room for both automobile transport and special bicycle-only facilities, and low-density areas that do have room for both but are too spread out to make bicycling competitive with automobile transportation.

            For reasons that  Mr. Forester has pointed out in the past, Davis, CA, is an example of a low-density town with significant bicycle transportation. Davis, even with its recent "suburban sprawl" is about 4 miles wide at its widest point. It is isolated in a farming district. There's really nothing to travel to outside of Davis, other than the artichoke fields, until you get to the edge of West Sacramento, 14 miles away.  So bicycling can be competitive with auto travel in such small, isolated towns.

            --- On Fri, 7/31/09, John Forester <forester@...> wrote:

             In the spaces where there is space that could be devoted to separated bicycle facilities, by the same reasoning the density is so low and travel distances are so great that bicycle transportation is an ineffective competitor against motoring.

            _._,___

          • John Forester
            The city of Davis, CA, is a recognized exception to my classification of cities as high density, short travel distance, where cycling competes against walking,
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 1, 2009
              The city of Davis, CA, is a recognized exception to my classification of cities as high density, short travel distance, where cycling competes against walking, versus low density, long travel distance, where cycling competes against motoring. But then, that's true of all small towns, and there is little bicycle transportation in most American small towns. The difference lies in the economic purpose of the small towns, or small cities. The economics of most small cities depend on the surrounding countryside. People come in to do business, and leave when that is done. Few of such people come in by bicycle; indeed, almost none come in by the old mainstay, the horse. Motor travel has taken over rural travel even more than it has urban travel. Certainly, the inhabitants of such towns have economic and social links to each other, and some of those links could be conducted by bicycle transportation, but most of this travel is divided between walking and motoring, little bicycling and almost no bus.

              The critical difference about Davis, and others like it, is that it is a university town. This means two things: there is a large pool of students for whom bicycling is rather forced upon them; most of the economic and social activity is centered on the town, rather than upon the surrounding countryside. Probably most of the agricultural economic activity in the area of Davis goes down the highway to Dixon. So, there is both the supply and the need for medium-distance travel, much of which is done by bicycle. It is also important to note that many UC Davis students don't cycle because they like to, as evidenced by the diminution of cycling when the free campus bus service was provided.

              Peter Rosenfeld wrote:
               

              Before some pro-facility person jumps on this, I'd like to mention that there are some minor exceptions to Mr. Forester's excellent description of dense, walking cities, which don't have the room for both automobile transport and special bicycle-only facilities, and low-density areas that do have room for both but are too spread out to make bicycling competitive with automobile transportation.

              For reasons that  Mr. Forester has pointed out in the past, Davis, CA, is an example of a low-density town with significant bicycle transportation. Davis, even with its recent "suburban sprawl" is about 4 miles wide at its widest point. It is isolated in a farming district. There's really nothing to travel to outside of Davis, other than the artichoke fields, until you get to the edge of West Sacramento, 14 miles away.  So bicycling can be competitive with auto travel in such small, isolated towns.

              --- On Fri, 7/31/09, John Forester <forester@johnforest er.com> wrote:

               In the spaces where there is space that could be devoted to separated bicycle facilities, by the same reasoning the density is so low and travel distances are so great that bicycle transportation is an ineffective competitor against motoring.

              _._,___


              -- 
              John Forester, MS, PE
              Bicycle Transportation Engineer
              7585 Church St. Lemon Grove CA 91945-2306
              619-644-5481    forester@...
              www.johnforester.com
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