I’ve just re-read the Copenhagenize post on so-called ‘vehicular cyclists‘, the American cycling sect that fights any bicycle infrastructure that could make bicycles a normal and safe way of getting around town, based on a groundless belief that such infrastructure is dangerous (almost certainly a selfish cover story for not wanting granny and the kids to obstruct their ‘right to ride’ bloody fast).
Then it dawned on me that, in the English-speaking world most transport planners are also vehicular cyclists. The mindset is there, even if the 10-gram-90-speed bicycle and the lycra permaskin aren’t. The New Zealand Road Code and UK Highway Code both treat bicycles as ‘vehicles’ which as vehicles must therefore share the road, where all ‘vehicles’ belong.
Try this at home: Find pictures of a car, a truck, a bus and a bicycle. Show them to a 5-year-old and ask them which is the odd one out.
vehicle (n.): a machine usually with wheels and an engine, which is used for transporting people or goods on land, especially on roads
-Cambridge English Dictionary
Am I the only one who finds bizarre the whole idea of lumping bicycles with cars, trucks and buses? If bicycles are vehicles (and therefore must share the road), in what way are unicycles, wheelchairs, kick-scooters and skateboards not ‘vehicles’? And running shoes?
A bicycle has this in common with all of these: none should be forced to travel among motor vehicles.
All places where bicycles are treated (not as vehicles but) as slightly faster pedestrians, riding a bicycle is a safe and normal thing to do.
In the Netherlands, many parts of Germany, and (still) many parts of China, you have:
bicycle paths that follow pedestrian paths, safely separated so bicycles don’t have to share the road with dangerous motor vehicles. (And pedestrianised city centres where people on foot and on bikes mix carefully and respectfully.) Streets in living areas are dead-end and narrow, discouraging motor vehicles and making it safe for people on foot or bicycle.
In Japan, you have:
bicyclists who largely ride on pedestrian paths and side streets, safely away from motor vehicles. Streets in living areas are very narrow, so motor vehicles are not able to move quickly, making it safe for people on foot or bicycle.
Quit it with the ‘vehicle’ lumping and give people safe infrastructure.