Bicycling Away from the One True Way

Commenting on ths Adonia Lugo blog post, I indicated that there are soi-disant bicycling advocates who hold to the credo that all traffic regulations must be followed to the letter, or that bicycling must have standards to be worthy of advocacy. There are advocates who see exhilarating events like Ciclavias as mere milestones on the historical progress of our cities toward Dutch-style bicycling metropoles, and there are advocates who commit fundamental attribution error by assuming that everyone who is not riding in the preferred position, style, or wardrobe is just sadly misinformed.

Adding further,this study from People for Bikes seems to dampen the rush toward infrastructure ‘solutions’ to the problem of not enough people on bicycles. If about two-thirds of people who want to bike more feel okay with the bicycle infrastructure they have, either those people are willing to share the street with automobiles, or they just aren’t even considering the possibility. It doesn’t seem, once again, that there is a reserve army of bicyclists.

For me I realized about four years ago that advocating for bicycling meant nothing in particular, like advocating for more right turns. It was advocating for people on bicycles that meant something. But it seems like everyone in the world of advocacy treats it like a zero-sum game, where certain groups win and certain groups lose. Sometimes sticklers for following traffic rules are privileged, by having streets departments spend money on giving away helmets and safety-themed coloring books; sometime people who live in certain neighborhoods are privileged, by having bike share programs come to them; sometimes people riding in certain directions are privileged, by having cycle tracks set up on their through routes; sometimes people who don’t even ride bicycles are privileged, as when advocates ponder how to increase mode share among the ‘interested but concerned.’