When Bicycling Gets “Over Sold”

Background Reading


Bicycling is getting “over sold“. For all the right reasons the Dutch and the Danes have tried to “peddle their brand” here in the United States and elsewhere. It has made a handsome living for folks who have gone from relative obscurity to Bicycle Infrastructure mavens in a single pedal stroke. And what is interesting is that among the things they connote as accounting for the lack of advancement of cycling in the United States is “fear mongering“. That of course is “code” for “bicycle helmets“.

If you want to get a group of millennials and their elderly counterparts, hipsters in a lather all you have to do is mention the words “intelligence gathering” in the context of fighting terrorism on our shores. You can even decide to run for President under this ruse when a strict Libertarian cloak will not sufficiently hide your butt.

The fact of the matter is that when it comes to “fear mongering” the most effective tool is the “Protected Bike Lane“. Note the operative word is “protected“. It almost sounds “helmet-like“. Rather than learning to ride in traffic (e.g. John ForestersVehicular Cycling) the idea is to provide a “sense of safety” by riding to the right of planters and PVC bollards over pavement strewn with debris and glass but nevertheless in a very pretty shade of green.

Never mind the fact that these lanes do not provide much shelter at intersections (there is after all a new and improved idea called the Protected Intersection) which like the multitude of attachments available for the GoPro Hero 3+ video camera make it a never ending revenue stream.

To get Bicycling off the ground our move has been to do the “Socialist” thing. We dump money into the hands of folks who have minimum experience at running a business and none of the dangers and let them play with “funny money” until it runs out. Then they resign and are off to the next “federally funded gig” where they once again milk the cow until it is dry and continue to preach nirvana to the masses.

But each time one of these boondoggles fails there is never any infrastructure left behind. Poor folks who could have learned to keep the business afloat were never “trained” and given responsibilities. We are busy handing out fish but never fishing poles and so as a result when the fish are gone nobody left behind knows how to get more.

The Wheels Are Coming Off

Think of BikeShare as a project being conducted by government in much the same way as one sees in a corporation. There are always 6 phases of that project:

The six phases of a big project are a cynical take on the outcome of big projects, with an unspoken assumption of their inherent tendency toward failure. The list is reprinted in slightly different compositions in any number of project management books as a cautionary tale.

One such example gives the phases as:

  1. Enthusiasm,
  2. Disillusionment,
  3. Panic and hysteria,
  4. Search for the guilty,
  5. Punishment of the innocent, and
  6. Praise and honor for the nonparticipants.

CitiBike‘s looming catastrophe should be a wake-up call. But sadly the hype machine surrounding the Bicycle Movement will start looking for reasons to “punish the innocent” and anybody who is “guilty of less than insane enthusiasm” and instead of seeing that the “Emperor Has No Clothes” will lash out at anything and everything that moves. Things are going to get ugly.