Bicilibre – “The Bike Lane is the Opiate of the Cycling People”

February 29, 2012

Original site

The language barrier makes Bicilbire a challenge. Not speaking Spanish, I rely on Google translate to read most of the content. This kind of translation often produces results which make little sense. There are a few articles written in English too, and suddenly the efforts of Google Translate don’t seem so bad after all.

The main assertion made by in Bicilibre’s blog is that separate infrastructure for cyclists is always a bad thing. Objective reasons for this are never substantiated in any meaningful way (such as here, where the Copenhagen cycle tracks study is either deliberately misinterpreted or hasn’t been properly read and understood). Of course some cycle infrastructure is very bad, dangerous even, and it makes sense to oppose its construction. However, only a fool would infer that bad cycle infrastructure means all cycle infrastructure is bad. Bicilibre instead appears to oppose cycle infrastructure for purely ideological reasons.

Firstly, some of this opposition to cycle infrastructure appears to stem from the belief that peak oil will result in a sharp decline in private car use and cycling will be able to blossom once again without separate infrastructure. At its core, this is a really nice idea but it fails to take several factors into account:

  1. It seems more than likely that we will try our best to extract and burn every last millilitre of conventional oil sources before we give it up
  2. Not satisfied with this, there is a good chance we will cook whatever oil we can out of rocks and sand, and burn that too
  3. The car as a concept is not completely wedded to oil; cars powered by coal electricity or other fuel sources are a distinct possibility in the future
Rather than at least attempting to tame the car through changes to road design, including cycle infrastructure, Bicilibre seems to be betting it all on the potential future effects of peak oil on personal transport.

Secondly, Bicilibre hates cycle infrastructure because of the belief that it produces wheeled pedestrians who are not proper, hardcore cyclists. Take this choice excerpt, of which I’m sure John Franklin would be proud:

“Because, face it, that is what you have in Denmark and the Netherlands: not a “cycling culture” as you like to boast, but acyclestrian culture: a culture of wheeled pedestrians. The fact (this will shock you, I know) is that the segregationist policies have crippled the ability of Dutch cyclists to a point in which you need to re-learn to use your bikes in natural streets of any difficulty just to get out of the bike-lane-theme-park in which you have transformed your countries.”

You bastards, making cycling accessible to normal people! Despite this ideology, it is difficult to ignore the particularly high cycling rates in the countries with the most robust separate cycle infrastructure (of which The Netherlands stands out particularly) which provides the greatest level of objective and subjective safety in the world for those using bicycles. In an entertaining attempt to explain this, Bicilibre suggests that the high rates of  cycling in The Netherlands (& Denmark – which the blog refers to collectively in a rather racist manner as “Vikingland”) is due to

“Historical, social, political, economic and cultural reasons that have no relation whatsoever (repeat after me: no relation whatsoever) with the segregation paradigm or with the abundance of cycle lanes.”

This will seem familiar to many people who have had discussions with those who have an ideological opposition to separate cycle infrastructure and who are attempting to present this ideology as fact. However, most of these people suggest that separate cycle infrastructure is merely an insignificant factor in The Netherlands high cycle usage, whereas Bicilibre takes the faith to a whole new level. Instead, it is suggested that whilst separate cycle infrastructure is generally bad for cycling, in The Netherlands (oh yeah, and also Denmark too) there are range of special and unique factors which mean that the high cycling rate (which, of course has “no relation whatsoever” to the separate cycle infrastructure) is uniquely unharmed by the normally destructive effects of separate cycle infrastructure.

Instead it is proposed to be all down to the driving culture. And of course the behaviour of drivers is not at all informed by the built environment. Of course Bicilibre strengthens the argument even further by being incredibly patronising and/or abusive to anyone of the infidels who disagree with this ideology.

Seems Legit

amcambike – Why do people cycle in Amsterdam

February 27, 2012

Original post – 25th February 2012

Following on neatly from the last post, amcambike takes a look at a survey by the Amsterdam statistical service into locals’ motives for cycling in Amsterdam. The author makes a point of stating that only 9% named the infrastructure and facilities as a factor in why they cycled, with the inference being that cycle infrastructure is not a key reason for the high cycling rates in the city.

I saw this and it really made me think. Like cycle infrastructure, the presence of the Earth’s crust is pretty much ubiquitous in Amsterdam. Surprisingly, none of the survey respondents identified the presence of a crust above the Earth’s mantle as a factor when asked why they like cycling in Amsterdam. The logical inference is that the importance of the presence of the Earth’s crust to cyclists is overestimated.

Either that or, as a ubiquitous presence, the Earth’s crust is something which Amsterdam’s residents take for granted, and thus neglected to mention the Earth’s crust when asked why they like cycling in Amsterdam. A bit like the infrastructure really.

amcambike – Why cycle, or not cycle?

February 25, 2012

Original post – 20th February 2012

Sustrans published the results of a survey demonstrating, in line with the general consensus, that safety concerns are a major barrier to the uptake of cycling in the United Kingdom. It also showed a strong desire for separate cycle infrastructure as a solution to this problem.

In response, amcambike posted a response referencing a similar survey done in The Netherlands in 2006 by the transport ministry. The Netherlands survey did not show safety as a major barrier to cycling. More separate provision for cyclists was not shown to be a major factor which would encourage more people to cycle.

The author goes on to suggest that the survey indicates that: “Evidently [separate cycle infrastructure] is not as important, within The Netherlands, as some people think.” The author acknowledges that the Sustrans survey in the UK specifies safety concerns and lack of infrastructure as key barriers to cycling, although described in more negative terms as “motive[s] for not cycling.” The post ends by asking  why the reasons given for not cycling differ between the UK and The Netherlands.

Unfortunately, the selective comment moderation used on amcambike means that readers may be unable to answer this question if it is not in-line with the author’s agenda. Fortunately, the answer is blindingly obvious. In The Netherlands safe, high-quality infrastructure already exists. The result is safety is not a major issue facing cyclists in The Netherlands. Its near ubiquitous presence means that building more of it is no-longer a major factor in getting people to use bicycles as a mode of transport. In the UK this kind of infrastructure simply does not exist. The result is safety is the major issue facing cyclists. The lack of infrastructure means that building it is a way to get people to use bicycles as a mode of transport.

It is difficult to believe that framing the differences in the results of these surveys as if they demonstrate that cycle infrastructure in The Netherlands is unimportant is a mistake. Instead it appears to be a deliberate attempt to misinform.



February 25, 2012

Stay tuned.