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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pedalling myths: the anti-bike lobby is flat out of plausible arguments [TheGuardian]


Woman cycling in New York
Menace to society: a woman cycling in New York. Photograph: Thomas Grass/Getty Images
If you hold the view that bikes, and bike lanes, are among the greatest evils threatening society today, you might at first have been pleased to see this week's Toronto Sun column by Mike Strobel, which has circulated widely online. Initially, it appears to stand in the fine tradition of anti-bike screeds such as those by the New York Post's Steve Cuozzo orAndrea Peyser, or the New Yorker's John Cassidy. All are on the frontlines of what's been called the "bikelash", brave fighters willing to stand firm against the growing popularity of cycling across north America. (One of the most prominent developments, New York's long-awaited bikeshare program, is due to launch next month.)
Take a closer look, though, and you'll notice that something's amiss with Strobel's piece. The average bikelash commentator, no matter how dyspeptic, considers him or herself obliged to come up with some sort of argument. That's why, for example, you'll see Peyser paying vastly disproportionate attention to the tiny number of truly awful accidentscaused by cyclists. It's why Cuozzo likes to conduct dubious amateur surveys to try to show that nobody uses bike lanes. But Strobel's rant against what he calls the "bicycult" is almost entirely devoid of argument. This is as close as he gets:
"The nitty-gritty: Streets are designed for cars, not bikes. Especially in winter, which is most of the time … Cars are common sense. They are our era's horses. They're also vastly greener and safer than your dad's Buick. They will never go dinosaur, despite the bike cult's best efforts."
Still, you've got to sympathise with Strobel's predicament. All the major cycling-related arguments have been won: bike lanes are popular; theydon't hurt local businesses; more biking doesn't lead to more accidents; bike lanes make pedestrians safer and don't impede the flow of car traffic.
To anyone who agrees that cycling, much like genocide, is a phenomenon that all decent people should condemn, the implication is clear: the anti-bike lobby urgently needs some new arguments. It's my honour, therefore, to suggest a few they might like to use:

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