Over at Transport Retort, clayliesstill covers the case of a death on a badly designed cycle track in Montreal, and extrapolates to a lesson on British cycle campaign strategy:
Advocates of quality facilities must acknowledge that a poorly designed cycle path can be more objectively dangerous, even if it is, in the long-term, beneficial because it increases the number of people using the route.
Isn’t that an odd thing to say? Like telling advocates of evidence-based medicine that they must acknowledge that pseudoscience can kill. Or like telling Nick Davies that advocates of good quality investigative journalism must acknowledge that tabloid rags can be harmful. The implication being that if you ask for one, you’ll probably get the other instead, so it would be better just to shut up about the whole thing.
Meanwhile, on a different subject, David says:
Yes, we all know about those “white line on pavement” cycle facilities, or, worse still, no white line on pavement “shared facilities”, but those are not what the campaign for proper cycle facilities is about. They are completely irrelevant. Nobody is asking for those, and talking about them is a diversionary tactic. The trouble is, in asking for nothing in terms of infrastructure, CTC actually contributes to the vacuum that allows these to come into being.
Hacks and quacks step in when there is a demand that can not be met by good journalism or good medicine, and when there are insufficient defences against the frauds. There is a great demand for a cycling environment which does not require mixing with large volumes of fast moving motor vehicles, and authorities are told in documents like The Way Ahead For Towns and Cities that they should be meeting that demand. To meet that demand, towns and cities have built crap cycleways, because the defences haven’t been there: the design standards are inadequate and there was little pressure to toughen them up; councillors and council officers don’t know how to do infrastructure properly, or lack the will to do it properly; and the few cyclists who were still left to join cycling organisations have been too busy talking amongst themselves about “effective cycling” and “right to the road” to hold anybody to account, leaving the few who recognised the need to get infrastructure right powerless.
Britain has not just been lacking an organised campaign for good cycling infrastructure, it has been lacking an organised campaign against bad cycling infrastructure. The mission of the new generation organisations like the Cycling Embassy is not merely to build up the will to construct infrastructure, but to develop the standards and the legislation that would ensure that only good infrastructure gets built — and that the crap cycleways, the legacy of the old era, get replaced.
For three decades cycle campaigning has been dominated by the vehicular cycling dogma epitomised by John Franklin, while calls for good infrastructure have been suppressed and sabotaged. It was under the anti-infrastructuralists’ watch that the crap got built. Anti-infrastructuralists must acknowledge that their strategy has failed to get people cycling, failed to defend the right to the road, and failed to prevent crap cycle lanes being built.