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Friday, November 29, 2013

Mythbusting: Exposing Half-Truths That Support Automobile Dependency | @planetizen

Some commentators recently expressed outraged that governments spend money on cycling improvements. Examples include Christopher Cadwell’s Drivers Get Rolled: Bicyclists Are Making Unreasonable Claims To The Road—And Winning, in theWeekly Standard, and Bob Poole’s A U.S. Bicycle Route System? in Surface Transportation Innovations #121. You could call them cycling critics, because they assume that bicyclists have inferior rights to use public roads and cycling facility investments are wasteful and unfair, or call themautomobile dependency advocates because their general message is that transportation planning should focus on facilitating automobile travel, with little or no consideration for other modes.
Their arguments are largely wrong, I’ll call them "half-truths" to be charitable, presented with great certitude and self-righteous anger. These articles are published in ideologically-oriented periodicals for readers who share their prejudices, so they make little effort to justify their positions. However, it is important that people involved in multi-modal transport planning understand these issues because they often surface in policy debates.
I evaluate their arguments below. I consider both walking and cycling, together calledactive or non-motorized transportation, since planning for these modes often overlaps: separated paths, complete streets policies, and urban traffic speed reductions support both. These issues are discussed in more detail in my report Whose Roads? Evaluating Bicyclists’ and Pedestrians’ Right to Use Public Roadways, and you'll find more detailed information on their economic evaluation in the report Evaluating Active Transport Benefits and Costs.

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