Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bicycle Follies

Recently, the Bicycle Mafia faction of urban planners and bicyclists have been, in their sworn enmity to all things self-propelled, engaged in a particularly risky stratagem for enhancing the quantity of misery on the roads while creating sufficient casualties to justify more draconian measures.

In Seattle, this has meant the forcible integration of low-speed/low-visibility/low-power vehicles with few if any audible cues into urban traffic via re-striping urban streets to create "bike lanes" and painting "bicyclist logo's" pavement logo's in many of the remaining lanes.

This kind of re-striping and logo madness is particularly pernicious in the case of a city like Seattle, when under-utilized residential streets exist on either side of the main thoroughfares so damaged. Rather than isolating the more-fragile, less-noticeable, and slower cyclist to the secondary residential streets (not unlike keeping pedestrians on the sidewalks), this approach places them at hazard on primary municipal streets competing with full-sized enclosed vehicles and then gracing them with a sense of arrogance and entitlement such that many bicyclists then assume that being superior, neither the Laws of Man nor the Laws of Physics will affect them.

The results are unsurprising - an increased number of bicyclist deaths and injuries, damage to the area economy by slowing traffic and increasing "dwell time" on the roads getting to a given destination (all imposing an economic hit), and emotional/physical damage to the drivers who squish the cyclists that barring official city encouragement would be unlikely to play tag with a '65 Ford truck.

As a bonus, this approach creates a group of *privileged* road users (way to inspire that road rage there) that require neither driver or vehicular licenses, knowledge of road rules, or payment for parking.

The final icing on the cake during the Nickels (praise be that he is GONE, let us hope McGinn is not as bad) was the creation of bands of hooligans such as Critical Mass that routinely infest the roads with "go slow" protests and the occasional assault - and, unlike any other protest group, get a police *escort* rather than a police confrontation and dispersal.

In closing...all of the above contributes to the myth of "evil car! evil truck! ESPECIALLY EVIL SUV!!" that is the dominant liberal meme around here. And while I am tempted, as I find horseback riding and horse-drawn carriages far more charming, to cheer them on for my own dark purposes...I don't think my own aesthetic transit preferences trump building a strong economy - preferably before we have to do so starting from economic rubble.

To build that economy, we need decent roads..individual/small group/cargo transit options...and to admit that Seattle is simply not built, nor will it be built, to be a real "mass transit" city - for which we should be thankful. To the extent we need to modify those options, we need to make a gradual and logically based transition away from internal combustion *where practical*, and base our choices on facts and logic, rather than idealism and "feels good".


Old NFO said...

"gracing them with a sense of arrogance and entitlement such that many bicyclists then assume that being superior, neither the Laws of Man nor the Laws of Physics will affect them"

If you kill enough of them, the gene pool gets a little deeper...

Wai said...

You should see what BloomingIditoBerg has done to NYC. Ugh!