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CYCLING-AND-SOCIETY  February 2012

CYCLING-AND-SOCIETY February 2012

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Subject:

An introduction [Re: A request for help]

From:

Jason Meggs <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Cycling and Society Research Group discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 01:58:23 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (306 lines)

Dear all,

I'm new on this list but not so new to cycling...it was just over 20
years ago my bicycle activist career began in earnest. Currently in
Italy working on the BICY project (BICY.it). A researcher from UC
Davis recommended I join this list. Thought as long as San Francisco
was mentioned I'd introduce myself, since my first post on the dreary
topic of non-work trip estimates wasn't so popular. :)

Much of my experience in advocacy is focused on California,
particularly the SF Bay Area, which, true, is a relatively great place
to ride now, not that it's been an easy process at all (a landmark
example is surely the more than three years when nobody could install
even a bike rack in the city due to environmental lawsuits (a misuse
of environmental laws), claiming the Bicycle Plan needing more study
lest it cause environmental harm, e.g., by making drivers wait in
queues).  But I've also been involved in a lot of international
efforts, lived in quite a few countries and around the US, made many
long bike trips, etc., focused on International Comparisons in my
Transport/Land Use/Environmental Health Science dual Master's
programme at UC Berkeley, and served on the Steering Committee for the
World Carfree Network, which puts on the Carfree Cities conference
(York, England 2010; Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, 2011).

So, I'd agree San Francisco is certainly dangerous in many places but
it's come a long way and has a highly developed focus now with the
well advanced advocacy organization, the San Francisco Bicycle
Coalition. The City is featured in the new 2012 Benchmarking report
from the Alliance for Biking & Walking (focused on the USA):
www.PeoplePoweredMovement.org/benchmarking

But lest we think it's all good, it certainly isn't. Actually this
video of a pedestrian being run over in San Francisco, with the police
doing nothing, says a lot (and nothing new in my all too familiar
experience):
http://sf.streetsblog.org/2012/02/16/sfpd-declares-open-season-on-pedestrians-with-the-right-of-way/

Admittedly I don't have a lot of experience cycling in London and I'm
not going to get into the comparisons game, but it's interesting that
people around and about in Europe keep telling me if I have bicycle
expertise I should go to London and help out (make a plan, do an
analysis, be a consultant, etc. etc., they are fairly broad in their
recommendations -- I usually tell them I'm sure there must be local
folks capable of this!). While this idea is flattering, and I'd be
interested to help such an effort, thus far my biggest inspiration was
to do a study of the viability of lorry-free city centers, starting
with London. When in York for Carfree Cities I got very excited about
this idea, we had folks from big shipping (DHL), from successful
bicycle cargo delivery companies, and someone who had worked as an
urban delivery van driver, plus a host of carfree cities theorists.
They ALL unanimously agreed it would be more time efficient AND more
profitable to switch to bicycle delivery (not that all deliveries can
be carried by bicycle, but most delivery trips could be replaced). I
hypothesised that perhaps the precedent of the Congestion Pricing area
could be used to also make a Lorry-Free zone. (I also met advocates
furious about the deaths from lorries in London.)  Nobody quite took
me up on the idea and other projects came up, and since then there's a
project called Cycle Logistics which I hope will be very successful in
moving the world toward lorry-free cargo systems(naturally, bicycle
delivery ranking high in that mix!).
http://cyclelogistics.eu/

I certainly have appreciated the analysis in London finding those who
run red lights are safer from being crushed by right-turn running
lorries than those (mostly women, sad to say) who don't. Some of my
research has focused on the Idaho Law, a law in the USA state of Idaho
giving cyclists the choice to yield, rather than stop, at stop signs
and red lights (stop signs are everywhere on bike routes in the USA,
and typically unwarranted for cars, let alone cyclists, and needlessly
serve to discourage and even endanger cyclists). This topic takes on
an added international dimension now that *griller le feu* is being
tested in Paris.
An article I wrote lasts September:
http://meggsreport.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/the-idaho-law-allowing-safer-choice-and-happier-travel/
An article on Paris ("not totally false" confided the Parisian cycling
advocacy group, MDB):
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3311182.ece

So consider me a friendly resource if I can be. I'm relatively new in
Europe and would love to chat with people and better understand what's
going on and how I could be of assistance. Any advice on research
sources, groups, etc. I'm all ears. By good fortune I helped start the
Carfree Research Group, with a list also hosted on this service,
http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/carfree-research
where a lovely new edition of World Transport Policy and Practice, out
of York, was just announced (a special edition around the open
question of: 'A Future Beyond the Car?'):
http://www.eco-logica.co.uk/pdf/wtpp17.4.pdf.
and was present for the inaugural meeting of the ECF Scientists for
Cycling, http://www.ecf.com/projects/scientists-for-cycling-2/

Meanwhile, to be perfectly honest, can't say I'm fully adjusted to
working in Italy, particularly with the motor scooter traffic severely
adding to air and noise pollution. There's a lot I'd like to know and
recommendations I'd like to make, but the good news is every time I
think I've heard my last "don't even try to change it," I find out
some group, often in the government, is taking strides.

Cheers and best wishes,
Jason Meggs








On Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 7:10 PM, John Meudell <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Guys
>
>
>
> A précis of my response to Kira.
>
>
>
> “””
>
> Kira
>
>
>
> I don’t know if you’ve seen Nicholas Oddy’s contribution but I tend to
> agree….comparing Canada and Denmark is probably too narrow.
>
>
>
> I’ve worked in Canada (in fact not far from where you are)and cycled across
> the US some years ago (New York to San Francisco).  I also lived and worked
> in Holland on and off for many years (since the late 70’s) and cycled
> extensively in Northern Europe and Scandinavia.  Based on those experiences
> I’d suggest that, on this subject, the geographical reasons drive history
> and culture…and not the other way around.
>
>
>
>
>
> Basically, distances are so huge in North America that, even in the more
> populated coastal states, cycling on a daily basis is limited to
> leisure/sport and, to a lesser extent, utility.
>
>
>
> In contrast distances between population centres, villages and the like in
> Europe are so small as to ensure leisure/day touring is both feasible and
> attractive.  Roads are winding, often sheltered by trees and hedges, there’s
> variety in the scenery and topography….which, although it exists to an
> extent in the coastal and eastern mountain states of North America, the
> distances preclude day touring.
>
>
>
> I think cycling research has missed a trick in not identifying the role of
> day touring in the development and support for utility and sport cycling (in
> Europe), it maintains ownership of cycling in the minds of many people,
> creating a tacit base on which to maintain interest in the high profile
> sporting side.
>
>
>
> That situation can’t really exist in North America, at least outside of the
> large urban conurbations and aforementioned states, so the sporting side is
> equally poorly recognised.
>
>
>
>
>
> This bigness has inhibited the wider importation of the bicycle culture.  In
> North America, outside of the big urban conurbations cycling is very easy
> and very safe (well, ignoring cattle truck drivers in Wyoming!).  Traffic
> densities are low on most county highways, likewise the old US Highways,
> with their wide hard shoulder.  Furthermore the construction of tarmac paved
> roads is still considerably less than in Europe, particularly through the
> Mid-West, even today.
>
>
>
> Cyclists are seen as unusual and non-threatening….I and many US side-to-side
> cyclists find themselves invited for coffee and to stay.  A couple of places
> I was chased by local small town reporters for a story (I was riding a
> recumbent tricycle, not exactly the usual human powered machinery seen
> around small towns!).  The kids all have bikes but, even if they get into
> serious mountain biking, the focus is on the first car which is (has to be)
> an important mode of transport to get around.  Again, outside of the urban
> conurbations there’s little in the way of public transport, apart for the
> school bus system, so a car is essential to everyone.  On the whole
> motorists drive slower (than the UK) though, admittedly don’t take
> prisoners…but at least they don’t deliberately try to run you off the road
> like they do in the UK.  So, unlike the UK, it’s actually a very benign
> environment for cycling….it’s just not very practical!
>
>
>
> On that particular point, I’d suggest making a clear distinction between the
> UK and Europe.  My experience is that, if you can cycle confidently cycle
> around London without getting intimidated, run off the road or killed, you
> can survive anywhere!
>
>
>
>
>
> That said I’d suggest that your question “Why it's so hard to incorporate
> bicycles in Canadian traffic?” is a bit general.  I’m told by a Canadian
> friend that places like Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and Victoria have good
> cycling routes and infrastructure networks.  San Francisco, which I have
> cycled around, has an established set of bike routes and is real easy to
> cycle around….and traffic is often much less of a problem than in London
> (UK).  The authorities have thought about the problems of getting around the
> Bay, so bikes are carried on the ferries and there used to be a bus-trailer
> to take cyclists across the bridges.  So I cycled around Oakland, Berkeley
> and Richmond, across the Bay and there’s not really much of a problem.
>
>
>
> So I’m not sure the position is as clear cut as your first thoughts.
>
>
>
> Cheers
>
>
>
> John Meudell
>
> C.Eng, MIMechE
>
> Research Associate, Swansea University
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> From: Cycling and Society Research Group discussion list
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of [log in to unmask]
> Sent: 27 January 2012 15:34
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: A request for help
>
>
>
> This was forwarded from the ICHC. If anybody wishes to respond, bear in mind
> she may not be on this list.
>
> ----- Forwarded message -----
> From: "Renate Franz" <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Fri, Jan 27, 2012 14:57
> Subject: Another question for help :)
> To: "Renate Franz" <[log in to unmask]>
>
>
>
> selectName: Ms.
>
> Last Name: Falsing
>
> First Name: Kira
>
> Street: 308 Wharncliffe
>
> Zip: N6G 1E2
>
> Town: London
>
> Country: Canada
>
> Email: [log in to unmask]
>
> Relationship: I'm writing an article about the main differences between
> North America (Canada) and Europe (Copenhagen), when it comes to bicycling.
> Why it's so hard to incorporate bicycles in Canadian traffic, and the
> historical and geographical reasons for this.
>
> So I have some questions, that I was hoping you could help me with.
>
>
>
> Is the reasons to be found in the geographical background, like North
> America is a much 'newer' world than Europe, so they just builds roads
> immediately, beause of the invension of the automobile at that time, or is
> it rather a cultural thing like a fascination in cars and big machines?
>
>
>
> Hope to hear from you and that you can enlighten me or suggest some articles
> or websites to look at. the article will also include the the history of the
> bicycle as transportation.
>
>
>
> Best
>
> Kira Falsing
>
>
>
> University of Western Ontario
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>

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