A Sane Take on Cycling Debate

Andrew Clarke with The Globe and Mail wrote an entertaining yet rationale article on fixing our society's problem with cycling. I'll share a couple quotes, but go read the whole thing.

You’re probably wondering why a guy who loves cars and driving, a man whose greatest fantasy is to spend the day driving around in a 1971 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible and then finish that day by having sex in it, wants to see more people on bicycles. Think of it as harm reduction. The more we can get people on bicycles, the fewer will be in cars and the fewer people there are in cars, the less traffic there will be and the easier it will be for me to drive around in my car.

Funny, but logical. I like Andrew's article because amongst the humour, he drops some really strong points on cycling, including this:

It’s time to stop seeing cycling as an aberration and recognize it for what it is – a mode of transportation, not a hobby. Cyclists need to be held to the same standard as drivers (that’s not too hard). Cycling needs to be encouraged. We need more bike lanes. They don’t slow down traffic. That’s insane.

Two key points. First, cycling is a mode of transportation as valid as any other, it's not a hobby (although it can be). Second, as a mode of transportation, cyclists need to obey the rules of the road. No excuses. This includes pedal bicycles, e-bikes, scooters etc. I can't count the number of times I've seen an e-bike on a sidewalk. There's never an excuse for a regular bike to be on the sidewalk and even less reason for a motorized bike to be there. Police services need to start enforcing traffic laws for all vehicles, including bicycles, e-bikes and scooters.

The author also touches on the issues around mandatory helmet laws. It is a touchy subject, but that debate distracts from the more important infrastructure discussions. The only way to get more people biking is to create an environment in which they feel safe to do so. With more cyclists on the road, drivers will learn how to share the road. It may take time, but it will happen. 

The only criticism I have about the article is that he didn't link to any sources around the debate. I'd like to learn more about where anti-helmet and the anti-cyclist groups are coming from. The only way to make change is to have informed debate. Andrew refers to these other conversations, but doesn't tell us how to get involved in them.