In the five years I have been writing here I have seen huge strides made worldwide towards bicycle friendliness.
Of course there is still an “Us vs. Them” attitude on both sides, but even this is breaking down. “Us” being the bicycle lobby, and “Them” being those who feel they are losing certain freedoms by encouraging more cyclists on the road. If you are on the other side the “Us and Them” are reversed.
For the most part what these changes mean is that people have to drive a little slower, and watch where they are going. Is that so terrible? To oppose it is such a short sighted attitude.
Every person riding a bike to work means one less car on the road, and less congestion. With less congestion everyone can drive slower and still get to their destination in the same amount of time, or even quicker; plus there is the added bonus of using less gasoline.
This also translates to less people killed on our roads, not just cyclists and pedestrians, but motorists too. Logical arguments like this are the reason the bicycle lobby is winning.
You can only argue against logic for so long, then gradually as more and more people see the reasoning, those remaining who continue fight change, begin to look stupid.
Those fighting change are starting to use disclaimers in their arguments to lessen the appearance of looking stupid. Do you remember how attitudes and commentary on it changed over the years following the Civil Rights movement.
Bigots used to begin racist statements with a preceding disclaimer? “I have nothing against black people, or Jews, (Insert whatever minority being discussed at the time.) some of my best friends are black people, or Jews.”
By stating that some of your best friends are part of the minority you are about to malign, it somehow seemed to make it okay. Bigots went from openly slandering minorities, to adding a disclaimer, until they lost the argument completely and it is no longer socially acceptable to say anything even mildly racist.
I have just read an anti-cycling rant in “The New Yorker” blog,titled “Battle of the Bike Lanes,” by John Cassidy. Third paragraph down is the disclaimer, “I don’t have anything against bikes.”
The writer then goes on at great length to explain that as a student he rode a bike everywhere. He then goes on to state:
“Today, of course, bicycling is almost universally regarded as a serious, eco-friendly mode of transport, and cyclists want it easy. From San Francisco to London, local governments are introducing bike lanes, bike parks, bike-rental schemes, and other policies designed to encourage two-wheel motion."
Then comes the final disclaimer before the argument against... "I support this but..."
"Generally speaking, I don’t have a problem with this movement: indeed, I support it. But the way it has been implemented, particularly in New York, irks me to no end. I view the Bloomberg bike-lane policy as a classic case of regulatory capture by a small faddist minority intent on foisting its bipedalist views on a disinterested or actively reluctant populace.”
Reading between the lines, I can see John Cassidy is losing the argument, or rather he has no real argument. What he is saying is that cycling is a good thing in London, or San Francisco, but not in New York City where he lives. Rather like saying “I have nothing against Jews or black people, as long as they don’t move into my neighborhood.
This whole article could be condensed to a single eight word sentence. "I am being inconvenienced and it annoys me."
What tells me the cycling movement continues to gain ground? It is not just that I read of an ever increasing number of cities across the world are installing bike lanes, and embracing cycling.
It is reading between the lines of the anti-cycling articles. They are losing the argument; or rather they are fast approaching the point where they no longer have an argument.