I have a lot of respect for Mr. Forester. He is a kind of biking philosophy pioneer. That being said, I think he takes a very extreme position and is pretty much inflexible about it. If everybody obeyed the rules of the road, there would be very few collisions on the roads, period. But the reality is that human beings break rules all the time, constantly, and that isn't going to change. It's not wrong to take actions to mitigate those human imperfections, such as road diets.
Thanks for the link Tony! John Forester is my hero! No matter how obstinate and disagreeable he might be. I like the comparison to frightened children:
...Why would they [car-centric politicians and traffic engineers] want you to behave like a frightened child? Because they wanted you out of the way of Motordom...Does that imply an inferior position? Certainly it does. It makes you an unwanted discouraged, despised road user...But they got away with it because America was becoming a motoring society. When I was in the sixth grade and Officer Friendly came to talk about bike riding, he told us to “stay out of the way of cars.”
And since then, we’ve had three or four generations of Americans raised to believe that if you ride in the road you’ll get smashed by cars...But you see, only 5 percent of car-bike collisions are caused by same-direction motor traffic. The fact that people are so worried is that they haven’t learned how to ride properly....
Which proves my opposition to the PBLs, bike lanes, and bike paths popping up all over Chicagoland. Cyclists BELONG in the road; that's the safest place for them!
How does one reverse a century+ of road building designed for vehicular traffic only and Motordom type attitudes in order to make for safe cycling?
It has to start in Drivers Ed and Traffic School. Cyclists and bicycles are being treated as an inferior form of transportation and or toys, and until people are "conditioned" to the fact that they are vehicles and to be expected on the streets and roads they will be treated as pariah by much of the population. Only when the population comes to respect cyclists, as equals, will there be any real headway on improved infrastructure.
Well said, Tony. But other factors could accelerate cycling popularity in the US.
For instance, our teenage Swedish visitor this week seems to have found a very effective way to shame drivers away from their gas guzzlers!
Streetsblog response to the John Forester interview: https://chi.streetsblog.org/2019/10/03/a-dinosaur-still-roams-the-e...
Thanks for sharing. While it is interesting to hear from the person that shaped how infrastructure was built, it is also a cautionary tale of how we went full speed down a direction based on one white man's opinions and then kept that approach long after data showed us otherwise.
Yes, what I am saying sounds harsh but with the exception of historic context and lessons learned, Forester hasn't evolved and our biking infrastructure hasn't evolved enough in the grand scheme of things. We can learn a great deal from Amsterdam and Copenhagen - much more than John Forester can teach us about creating safe cycling infrastructure.
sure, there are white males that do a good job of bringing other voices into the discussion, statistics, research, point of view, etc. This man is not that person.
Instead, he digs his heels in, ignores facts, ignores the POV of women, children, and seems to make decisions in a vacuum.
“In 2005, Yale Law School professor Dan Kahan, who introduced the perspective of “cultural cognition” to the theory, explained, “the reason white males are less fearful of various risks is that they are more afraid of something else: namely, the loss of status they experience when activities symbolic of their cultural worldviews are stigmatized as socially undesirable.” Identity protective cognition, or thinking that attempts to maintain and uphold the status quo, is part and parcel of this same phenomenon.”
When we spend decades following the misguided, isolated opinions (not rooted in facts), we do a disservice to communities of color, women, and children. We are finally getting there but this man completely (still) ignores others and continues to see it only from his limited perspective.
Yasmeen is totally correct that when decisions about transportation policy and infrastructure are overwhelmingly made by people from one demographic -- white men -- that's a problem from an equity standpoint. Here's some discussion about how that issue impacts transit in the Chicago region.
I bring these issues up not to be a pain or a contrarian but because the ship has yet to right itself. We need equity in planning our infrastructure, mass transit, and road systems. If we don't, we are doing a great disservice to the entire population as well as the planet (see global climate crisis).
Did you know that the majority of cyclists on the roads are men? Not as many women are willing to take that risk and ride in the streets. How can I blame them? I came back home last summer and within 5 minutes of jumping on the bike and turning on to Illinois had cars flooding the bike lane with 4 cyclists having to dodge and weave through. When I asked (nicely) for a car to move out of the bike lane he cursed me out. Montrose has become much less bike friendly than I remember as well. I did not feel safe that day in my own hometown where I have logged thousands of miles. How can it be 2019 and we have done a backslide on safe accommodations?
It is disappointing when people jump on the in bike lane thread to criticize us for taking issue with people driving and parking in the bike lanes because they miss a HUGE point. There are A LOT of people (e.g. women) that will not ride a bike if that means they have to weave in and out of the bike lanes that are constantly obstructed with vehicles. And these naysayers/trolls/mockers that make these comments? White men that refuse to see that other people have different perspectives. Instead they come on The Chainlink and mock up for taking issue with it. Frankly, I don't have these arguments with people in the DC area so I find it odd and frustrating that Chicago hasn't caught up to the fact that Protected Bike Lanes are really the answer that will help get more people riding bikes. We need to enforce and protect our most vulnerable users of the infrastructure including pedestrians.
How is this even a point of argument of cyclists vs. cyclists? Seriously.
I agree completely that we need complete equity in planning. You need all of the voices heard in a community. I also agree that Forester is very myopic in his view, and I have no doubt that he'd shrug off other voices in any conversation on infrastructure.
That said, in these sort of conversations, it feels like sometimes equity concerns are raised in a way to suggests a certain view wouldn't be adopted if other people were at the table. With respect to pro-VC arguments, and a resistance to adding dedicated bicycling infrastructure, I'd agree the studies clearly back that women and children would benefit from, and give their support in greater numbers for, the addition of the type of dedicated bicycle infrastructure that Forester would oppose. However, I think it gets trickier when we start talking about communities of color, and not so sure those communities would be pro-dedicated infrastructure in all instances.
We invite people to the table because the table needs to include everyone, but I don't presuppose what their voice is going to be when they get there, and in this instance (at least anecdotally from what some of the arguments were against infrastructure changes related to Vision Zero, and other gentrification concerns bicycle infrastructure brings) the missing voices may not support adding dedicated infrastructure. Point is some of the missing voices are going to be pro-status quo in terms of keeping infrastructure focused on automobiles. We can't just assume true equity will automatically equal a progressive outcome.