Beware ‘Crappy’ Bicycle Infrastructure and Danish Notions

Background Reading


Where cities put their bicycles. Above ground. On street level. Woven into the urban fabric. Well...  not ALL cities.

Where cities put their bicycles. Above ground. On street level. Woven into the urban fabric. Well… not ALL cities.

The Bicycle Pope writes:

I meet amazing, inspiring people when I travel the world with my work. I see a lot of things. Many of the things are good. Many are, however, strange and frustrating. Especially regarding infrastructure. It boggles my mind every time I – or worse, ride on – bike lanes on the wrong side of parked cars in between the door zone of primarily single-occupant vehicles and moving traffic in North American cities and I thumb my nose at every sharrow I see. That fakest of all fake bicycle infrastructure. That sheep in wolf’s clothing.

Despite a century of Best Practice in bicycle infrastructure and tried and tested networks occupied by tens of thousands of daily cyclists in cities that “get it”, there are still so many mistakes being made elsewhere. I see stuff slapped lazily into place by engineers and planners who don’t ride bicycles in their city and who haven’t even tried it. Mutant Frankeninfrastructure from the lab of a Marvel Comics nemesis’ laboratory.


Pope DickHead and I do not always see eye-to-eye. He seems to think that the ‘War on Cars‘ is cool. I hate it. He would like to suggest that ‘helmets‘ are proof that mind control by the automobile industry is possible. He is dead wrong on that count. In fact I would go out on a limb here and say that his position is akin to that of the Tea Party and GOPhardliners‘ who suspect that somehow a vaccination is an attempt to control our lives (rather than protecting it) and as such should be avoided.

It is always necessary to realize that not every member of the Church of Urban Cycling is sane. And that includes its Pope. That is not to say that everything that falls out of his cassock is tainted. Much of it is very good. But nobody who is attempting to get hired as a consultant can afford to let his notoriety drag him down. So in between his moments of sanity he whips out ‘stupid stuff‘And you smile and say, yep the old boy is keeping his customers wanting more. Good on him!

Not Every Inch of Bicycle Infrastructure Is Good

I would hazard a guess that about 25 percent of the bike lane mileage already put into place is useful. The rest is very, very ‘iffy‘. And as the Bicycle Pope points out we are in the position of buying food from a chef that never tastes what he prepares. That my friend is a recipe for disaster!

But if the guys at StreetsBlog say we need more of this bullshit, then we all nod and cast knowing glances at one another as we pedal headlong against traffic at the Critical Mass Ride where in order to let people know that ‘cycling is a good thing‘ we act like assholes.

Just so you know, this is the equivalent of trying to impress that special someone by walking up to their table with our junk hanging out. Really cool, that move. But hey, as I have said on countless occasions the Urban Cycling Movement is about as lame as you can get.

Chicago's Cycling Movement Issues A Leftist Manifesto

Chicago’s Cycling Movement Issues A Leftist Manifesto

When you represent less than 1 percent of the transportation landscape of course it makes sense to publish something like this to let the others know how very successful you are going to be.

And of course you execute maneuvers where you ride on the wrong side of the double yellow line while following the big dogs on Critical Mass Rides whilst discussing the fact that you are sick and tired of people-of-color who ride against traffic in the bike lane. Sheesh!

Yeah, that really sucks.

Holding Out for Better

Mikael is probably envious of the audacity of the Skycycle. Hew comes from the ‘old guard‘.

But if the English pull this off I will be happier than a ‘pig in slop‘. This is a bold vision and answers one major problem with the conventional notion of how to build infrastructure for bicycles in northern climes.

It means that you can essentially ameliorate the weather’s impact on the cyclists. But far from his notion that people will be isolated high up in the air is the reality that both Chicago’s underground and others like it are in fact dotted with places to eat and things to see.

If built smartly they are smart, convenient and very safe routes to tourist attractions and places of employment. Sorry Pope DickHead you need to get back to your up-skirt photographing and leave the forward thinking to the Brits.

You guys in Copenhagen can gather around your LED cycle counter and relish the ‘good old days‘. The rest of the world will be out building stuff that really matters.

Superhighways In The States All Have Oases

I suppose if Pope DickHead spent less time riding cargo bikes and more time driving on superhighways he might get the concept better. But these things are designed to do two things:

  • they get you from point A to point B safer and quicker because you seldom have to stop.
  • they provide their captive audiences all manner of support including bathrooms, food stops, access to airports and even stadiums.

See the problem with his thinking is that he got ‘married‘ before he should have. The Danes began ripping off the idea of Dutch Cycling Culture long before it was fashionable. Now they have somehow convinced themselves that they are the true keepers of the concept of DutchCycling and its infrastructure ideas.

But the Johnny-cum-latelys are backing up their double-wides and taking over the trailer park. They are really going to define what is perfect going forward. The more the idea of on-street PBLs painted green with PVC bollards disgusts me the better I feel about something designed by people who really have some skills.

Restaurants and shops will be lining up hat-in-hand to lease spots on these underground and elevated routes. People will be able to use them without having to worry about getting lost on busy roadways like the LSD. Perhaps the only real downside will be the notion that people either underground or in the sky will think they can still ride as drunk as they want because they will encounter little automobile traffic. That will have to be kept to a minimum. That is especially if pedestrians are allowed along the same tracks (but perhaps in different lanes).