Sometimes you have to marvel at the simplicity of the “Direct Approach“. Conventional wisdom always defers to the notion of the Grand Gesture. It is for that reason that many activists come to the Urban Cycling Movement with stars in their eyes. They speak disdainfully of folks dressed in Lycra and will tell anyone who will listen about how very troublesome city traffic is for them each day. Their solution to everything wrong with modern life is the Protected Bike Lane and no automobiles.
Some of that approach makes sense until they begin to tell you that helmet wearing is a conspiracy of the Corporate World meant to enslave you into the regular repurchase of these tools of the ignorant which only engender fear in the hearts and minds of their users and thus serve as a deterrent to bicycling rather than a protector of the innocent.
When the Chicago ChainLink Forum gets revved up to perform yet another OnLine Harassment Maneuver is just about the time my blood starts to boil. When an individual approaches the group thinking that asking them to take a survey on helmet usage is a better means of developing PSAs and are met with a wall of venom and personal attacks it makes me want to cry.
But what saves the world more often than not is the gentle hand of an individual who takes the time to do something as simple as helping a fellow cyclist properly adjust their helmet straps. There is nothing about the Grand Gesture here. It is simply what mother’s and care givers have been doing for countless eons without every having their names etched in marble.
What the Urban Cycling Movement needs is not necessarily more Berteau Greenway Projects or raised Protected Bike Lanes or bicycle-specific stop lights. It needs more compassionate people who are willing to do the painstaking things like helping another individual adjust their helmet straps.
The Chicago ChainLink Forum has a survey in which they are attempting to understand the best ways to improve their site. Here is my advice, “ditch the OnLine Harassment“. Replace it with meaningful videos and training materials to help people become more effective cyclists. They need to know what works in terms of clothing in extreme weather situations. They are interested in which tires work best on snow and ice and even on glass strewn city streets. They need to know how to change an inner tube or to tell if their brakes are working efficiently. They need to know strategies that will help them avoid Door Zone Collisions or Right Hooks while crossing intersections in the bike lane.
Leave all the blather to the types who are focused on their navels and their pet peeves about automobile parking. Eventually that sort of thing will work itself out. What might be of far greater importance to cyclists is how we deal with the increasing numbers of personal bikes being “driven” into the city with no place to park them. After all bicycles have the “same problem” as cars. Once ridden to your destination you have to park them somewhere. And frankly the Europeans have had to build large parking facilities to handle their legions of bicycles.
We need more humane places to ride our bikes that do not require traffic distractions. I would “give an eye tooth” for cycle tracks that looked like this. Instead we are mired in countless arguments over whether we should have PVC bollards, greener paint, few stop lights and signs and of course helmets.
No wonder the Dutch love cycling. Who wouldn’t want to have a trip into work that takes you past stately trees and beside lush green vegetation? Now this is what we should be striving for. Not some hardscrabble lane shoved up against a curb that never gets plowed of snow or if it does is the target of sidewalk shovelers.
There are no cabbies that are likely to drop off their customers on this cycle track. There are no trucks doing unloading or folks popping into the coffee or sandwich shop and blocking your progress. Instead you can ditch the headphone and listen to real music as sung by the original practitioners from branches nearby.
Something tells me we are being sold a Bridge in Brooklyn or at the very least some swamp land in Florida. I dunno but if I have to ride to school or work or just tour the city, this is what I envision as being the best option. Check out our SEARCH area for videos of cycle tracks like these being used by school children on class outings. Great stuff!