Safe cycling?


“City politicians around the world are in a race to make their cities “bike-friendly.” The more they succeed, the nastier things will get. . .  Cycling lanes consume more space than they free up, add to pollution and drain the public purse”

Mr. Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute, Source: http://business.financialpost.com/opinion/lawrence-solomon-ban-the-bike-how-cities-made-a-huge-mistake-in-promoting-cycling

Let’s have a look at what Mr. Solomon has to offer when he challenges our thinking on these issues. Your comments as always are more than welcome.

“The bicycle has come a long way since the 1980s when bicycle advocacy groups (my group, Energy Probe, among them) lobbied against policies that discriminated against cyclists. In the language of the day, the bicycle epitomized “appropriate technology”: It was a right-sized machine that blessed cities with economic and environmental benefits. At no expense to taxpayers, the bicycle took cars off the road, easing traffic; it saved wear and tear on the roads, easing municipal budgets; it reduced auto emissions, easing air pollution; it reduced the need for automobile parking, increasing the efficiency of land use; and it helped keep people fit, too.

Today the bicycle is a mixed bag, usually with more negatives than positives. In many cities, bike lanes now consume more road space than they free up, they add to pollution as well as reducing it, they hurt neighbourhoods and business districts alike, and they have become a drain on the public purse. The bicycle today — or rather the infrastructure that now supports it — exemplifies “inappropriate technology,” a good idea gone wrong through unsustainable, willy-nilly top-down planning.

London, where former mayor Boris Johnston began a “cycling revolution,” shows where the road to ruin can lead. Although criticism of biking remains largely taboo among the city’s elite, a bike backlash is underway, with many blaming the city’s worsening congestion on the proliferation of bike lanes. While bikes have the luxury of zipping through traffic using dedicated lanes that are vastly underused most of the day — these include what Transport for London (TfL) calls “cycle superhighways” — cars have been squeezed into narrowed spaces that slow traffic to a crawl.”

Cars have been squeezed into narrowed spaces that slow traffic to a crawl

Full text continues here. http://business.financialpost.com/opinion/lawrence-solomon-ban-the-bike-how-cities-made-a-huge-mistake-in-promoting-cycling

Closing paragraphs:

“The most telling opposition to cyclists, though, may be cultural. They are often seen as an entitled, smug and affected minority. In the U.K., cyclists are mocked as “mamils” (middle-aged men in Lycra); in U.S. inner cities they’re seen as the preserve of “white men with white-collar jobs” furthering gentrification. Almost everywhere they’re seen as discourteous, and as threats to the safety of pedestrians. At least two cities in the U.K. have banned cyclists from their city centres and just this month the government of New South Wales in Australia decided to ban bikes (but not automobiles, motorcycles, trucks or trams) on a popular Sydney street that had been a bike commuter route. The government explained it wants the street to become conducive to pedestrians. Other street bans important to Sydney’s downtown are in the works.

“City politicians around the world are in a race to make their cities “bike-friendly.” The more they succeed, the nastier things will get.”

# # #

About the author (from Wikipedia):

Lawrence Solomon is a Canadian writer on the environment and the executive director of Energy Probe, a Canadian non-governmental environmental policy organization. His writing has appeared in a number of newspapers, including The National Post where he has a column, and he is the author of several books on energy resources, urban sprawl, and global warming, among them The Conserver Solution (1978), Energy Shock (1980), Toronto Sprawls: A History (2007), and The Deniers (2008).  Solomon opposes nuclear power based on its economic cost, is a global warming skeptic, and has been critical of government approaches and policies used to address environmental concerns.

# # #

About the editor:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | http://bit.ly/2Ti8LsX | #fekbritton | https://twitter.com/ericbritton | and | https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbritton/ Contact: climate@newmobility.org) | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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  1. Exhibit B: Mark Lobjoit
    Financial Post is ultimately owned by GoldenTree Asset Management, heavily invested in oil, gas, coal and utilities

    Financial Post -> Postmedia News -> GoldenTree Asset Management (52%)

    Also see:

    And again:
    Mark Lobjoit, December 6 at 11:25am

    I’m getting the impression there is a template circulating for these articles on how disastrous cycling is. There is a backlash building against the obvious popularity (as shown by polls) of cycling as a solution to the problems of congestion, pollution, health and exercise which are plaguing our cities.

  2. Exhibit C: Estelle Desmit

    3 things:
    1/ a change needs a real change -> more cars users needs to change mobility habits for a true success
    2/ tax, although bikers -in Belgium- pay general taxes for roads as much as any other citizen, why an additional dedicated tax should be applied on those that pollute the least — bikers ?
    3/ just think how worse it could have been if these new bikers or PT commuters would have kept their car. Adding on traffic and pollution even with extra lane

    Think, search, think again before publishing none sense. Thank you

    Dear Estelle, Kind thanks for those clarifying remarks.

    As to why we occasionally publish this kind of “none sense”, well because as policy makers and advisers, we think it’s part of our responsibility to listen to everybody., even those who think very differently from our views.

    Also I personally believe that I can also learn something from listening to their grievances and proposed solutions. Because in this short life you can never know where the next good idea will come from.

    Eric Britton

    Estelle Desmit That s a good idea indeed

    I believe that we need to create the opportunity for a real change according to what we want to achieve first. Better mobility, or better environment or better health. In which priority order?

    I believe the incentive or opportunity should be monitored by the governing bodies. Private can support the objective but for a true change an impulse, regulation and a monitoring is needed from gov (local, reg, national, EU,…)

    Imagine that we create opportunities for smoother PT/biker travels, part of drivers would switch from cars to other means and vice versa for smoother &acceptable travel time). Road transport will always reach the ’acceptable’ threshold.

    If the objective is not mobility but health or environmental, this will not be sufficient. Road transport would need to be regulated to achieve the objectives.

    I maintain that I disagree with the assumptions and ccl taken in the article 😉

  3. Benoit Beroud

    So what is his proposal. More cars?

    Eric Britton:

    Right on Benoit. That’s part of that policy package.
    * More cars,
    * Wider lanes.
    * Higher speeds.
    * Narrower sidewalks.
    * More car parking.
    * Less enforcement.
    * Other than for bicycle helmets which should be required for all by law.
    * More funds for lobbying.

    • Narrower sidewalks is not the solution.

      Based on my experience, one enormous improvement would be have cyclists honor the same rules of the road drivers do – and have that strictly enforced. At least in Chicago there are several pockets where wreckless cycling is a serious safety issue. Cyclists weaving between cars, not stopping at red lights, not yielding to moving vehicles, etc. I’m quite over the ghost bikes that dot the city. Irresponsible cyclists should not be honored because they tempted fate or committed mobile suicide.

  4. Sounds like constructive feedback. Cyclists often act like they are the only ones saving the planet with their $800 bicycles. In areas where cycling didn’t go extinct, there is safe habitat. Reintroducing cycling is a challenge. When fuel becomes scarce and expensive, whole lanes will be available for walking and wheeling. Many types of wheels are used to assist transport. Stairs and elevators, historic city-building vertical transportation corridors and technology, enable movement and maximization of City infrastructure. Walking is the mode we are born with. Those which are limited by age or injury, we’ve always carried around or otherwise accommodated.

  5. Did everyone notice (I hope) that Solomon’s objections to bikes are not explained, provide no evidence or examples, suggest no alternatives and basically sound like the whining of a booster for the oil, gas and automotive industry. And he claims to be a climate denier to boot, which also requires the same kind of connections. I guess his intention is just to muddy the conversation by pretending there is a new, political backlash against bikes, whether it’s real or not.


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