bicycle urbanism | forget about innovative funding!
Post on 16-Apr-2017
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Innovation is new, creative, fresh.
The problem with innovative transportation funding is that it makes a terrible assumption: bicycling is not a fundamental mode of transportation.
In fact, most departments of transportation acknowledge through policy statements that walking and bicycling ARE the fundamental modes of transport. Bicycling is amplified walking.
Bicycling is transportation.
Therefore, the funding of bicycle infrastructure should be mainstream. In fact, it should be prioritized above car-oriented infrastructure projects.1
Quick tangent for some conference housekeeping.
The official hashtag is #VCUbike15 and you can follow me on most social platforms by searching my last name - @Boenau.2
Public speaking tip: never start a talk by accusing your audience.
That said, I will now accuse you of letting this terrible infrastructure happen to us!
My point is this: engineers follow rules. If you pressure their bosses planning commissions, city councils, etc. then the engineers will follow instructions. They may roll their eyes at your cutesy notions of upright bicycle riding, but theyll follow the rules.
Infrastructure will only be bicycle-friendly in America when people become outspoken advocates for it.
There are no good engineering reasons for Americas car-oriented street networks. 3
Im serious. Streets are hostile to bicycling because powerful interest groups used effective propaganda campaigns to change public perceptions.
No one likes to admit being fooled. But it happened. Smart terms like efficiency, capacity, operational fluidity, deficiency mitigation all innocent in themselves, but used for great harm on public streets.
The free market didnt sprawl out America. Cronyism sprawled out America.
A few benefited at the expense of many.
The elite KNEW that there was no sound engineering to support highways through cities, no good reason to prohibit walking in streets, and no logical defense for reckless drivers who killed pedestrians. So they used social engineering instead.
They used psychological tricks to promote group think group think supporting the idea that people should be herded outside of streets so that cars could move faster and without delay.
The Authorities manipulated people into thinking crossing a street mid-block was a stupid thing to do. That riding a bicycle through town was childrens play. That slowing down motor traffic was impeding progress.
I cant emphasize this enough.
Engineering judgment did not displace bicycling from the streets. A smart and effective propaganda campaign displaced bicycling in the streets.
What was once normal was twisted into something called alternative.
Social engineering led people to believe that high-speed motordom should be expected. Americans came to believe that they had every right to rush to their destination as fast as technology would permit safety be damned! 7
Some thoughts on modern infrastructure in America
Modern streets are dangerous by design. In fact, take a moment to check out that Twitter hashtag: #DangerousByDesign.
Traffic operations is focused on high-speed motorists. Bicyclists are left in the gutter. (Or worse, on the hood of a vehicle.)8
Thing America gets outraged by: random and rare peanut allergy outbreaks.
Thing America is numb to: death on public streets.
Grieving families are funding more dangerous projects with their taxes. We have the equivalent of a 9/11 EVERY MONTH. Remember how fired up America got about the 9/11/01? Why dont we get angry about traffic death? Because weve been conditioned to think its normal.
Streets that are dangerous for people are tolerable until our immediate family suffers from the carnage. Then we become advocates.
30-40,000 dead Americans every year. What if we stopped tolerated Vision ThirtyThousand and aimed for a goal of ZERO traffic deaths? 9
Theres a popular Twitter hashtag: #dangerousbydesign. Its popular because of the painful truth. Experts *know* their product is dangerous.
Watch for stories like this in your local news: Todays speeds are higher than the posted limit. Therefore, were going to widen the street to accommodate the speeding traffic, because we want to improve safety. Wider roads make faster traffic. Everyone knows this. Kids know this. And yet professionals add the tag to improve safety as if theyre doing anything to improve safety.
So what makes streets safer? 10
Streets that are safe for bicycling will also be safe for car traffic. If the roads most vulnerable users feel comfortable, its because motorists are behaving like civil humans.
The powerful infrastructure lobbyists are not going to promote your appreciation for infrastructure that saves lives. Safe infrastructure is not good for their business.
And guess what not all businesses SHOULD thrive!
Vision Zero: a simple and straightforward goal. Eliminate road deaths. This should lead to an incredible sense of urgency, since current funding priorities continuing the deadly trends.11
America, liberty, liberty, America.
Drive this home: having the choice to ride a bike is a beautiful sign of individual liberty.
Dont be sucked into arguments about peak hour traffic, or signal timings, or that crazy college kid who wont stop at the stop sign.
Focus on freedom. Car-oriented infrastructure forces everyone to use one very expensive mode of travel. It squashes freedom.
Bicycle-friendly streets are Freedom Paths.
People want choice. Being able to ride bikes whenever you want is ultimate freedom. Worrying about traffic and road rage is anything but freedom.13
Theres a growing trend in America to shower blessings and awe on European cities for their zeal to create bicycle-friendly infrastructure to save the planet.
Friends, they arent trying to save the planet any faster than you. Europeans are human. They want convenience, just like we do.
You arent going to save people from traffic deaths by focusing on carbon emissions and fossil fuel costs.
if transportation networks are CONVENIENT for people of all ages to ride bikes, then we may accidentally save the planet.
Spend some time searching online. If you build bike infrastructure, bike riders will come. 15
So how can we measure convenience?
Lots of ways. But I like to think about the options 3 miles from home (or work). 16
Heres my situation. All these things (and much more) are within a short bike ride from home.
However, the street network is hostile to families. Ok, its hostile to every human being.
Im not safe riding any of these places alone, let alone with two young children. Im stuck. But if the infrastructure was in place, wed be riding bikes all the time.17
You cant wait for transportation authorities to build something thats good for you.
Theyll continue planning and designing infrastructure that squashes individual freedom and blots out human life in honor of high-speed motordom.
Tell the professionals what you want. Do you want safe and convenient options to ride bikes? Then demand it.18
Here are some ideas for getting other people on board.
Friends: play dates with your kids, bridge games, Instagram and Facebook, bike rides.
Politicians: letters to editor, emails, Twitter and YouTube, bike rides. (Best option: invite a politician AND THEIR FAMILY to go for a bike ride.)
Transportation Professionals: emails, office visits, bike rides.
Bicycling is transportation.Bicycling is transportation.Bicycling is transpo
Are we good?20
One last thing.
Its a big thing.
You and I will not see any upheaval to the status quo if we go with the flow. People will dislike your message of peace & love in the streets. Remember, Americans have been trained to expect high-speed car traffic as a right and privilege.
Bicycle-friendly planning design requires disruption. But there are many others out there just like you, who want to ride bikes safely.
There are other people besides you who want their individual liberty restored.21
You HAVE to disrupt.
You will polarize people.
No one ever said I want to follow her shes the most mediocre person Ive ever met!
Heres my trick for infiltrating the industry: Dress like an architect, think like an anarchist. 22
Heres my business card.
Im @Boenau on most social networks.
Find me. Say hi. Lets save the world from the experts!