Is There Enough Room For Everyone On America's Roads?

Tom Madigan asks: "is it still possible to promote new bicycling and walking options in harmony with vehicular traffic? Or as city space gets more limited, will planners have to take sides?"

Amid the New York Times talking of "a national fight to take urban spaces back from the automobile," and the president of the Congress for New Urbanism quoted as saying, "We're rolling back the freeway system," National Journal debates the central transport issue for urban America.

Full Story: Will Bicycles and Pedestrians Squeeze Out Cars?



Expert on the subject

If anyone SHOULD be commenting on this issue, it is THIS man; I hope Planetizen knows and respects him:

John Forester, MS, PE

Bicycle Transportation Engineer

7585 Church St. Lemon Grove CA 91945-2306

619-644-5481 forester@johnforest

www.johnforester. com


This regular planetizen reader, at least, knows of John Forester, but is the furthest thing from a fan of his work.

Forester's signature "vehicular cycling" -- the theory that cyclists should not have any dedicated lanes or other facilities to separate them from traffic, but rather that cyclists, through education and training, should somehow be able to hold their own with cars by acting as full-fledged vehicles -- is one of those ill-conceived ideas that needs be put to rest for us to move forward to a multimodal 21st century.

Are driver and cyclist education a good thing? Sure. Will they ever, on their own, be enough to change the behavior of enough of the population to swing a serious shift in modes from cars to bikes? Not a chance. The average would-be cyclist is terrified of riding unprotected on a four-lane arterial with 35 mph traffic, and rightfully so.

A five-minute visit to the world's biking cities, say Freiburg or Amsterdam, or even to one of America's rapidly improving ones, such as New York or Portland, is enough to debunk this idea. These places either have or are installing real separated facilities on the busiest streets.

Vehicular cycling does not offer any promise to make cycling appealing beyond a tiny, unusually risk-averse, overwhelmingly male segment of the overall population. It is diametrically opposed to Enrique Penalosa's vision of making non-motorized transportation accessible to all, from ages 8 to 80.

Jake Wegmann

Cycling and traffic.

I fully agree, Jake. Folks advocating sharing lanes with cars are not cyclists. Absolutely a non-starter for actual cyclists.



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