Politics Cycling Infrastructure
posted by July 28 at 14:18 PMon
As I read the entries on Slog about the recent Critical Mass debacle, the thing that most struck me, besides the Rashomon aspect of the multiple versions of the story, was the blinding insight that Critical Mass doesn’t accomplish much in terms of concrete improvements in cycling infrastructure. All Critical Mass really does, in my experience, is piss people off. Pissed off people tend not to support the political causes of the people who piss them off, so I’ve never signed on with CM’s agenda.
What does get things done? Corrupt politicians.
So, the only solution to Seattle’s endless Process regarding a cycling map (whoo-hoo! Cartography, however inaccurate, will serve!), inadequate bike lanes on appropriate streets and bike routes and so forth: trade Nickels for Daley.
Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s Mayor-for-Life-or-Until-Indicted, is a recreational cyclist. And he is an absolute dictator who pretty much gets what he wants (he has appointed or directly got elected the majority of the City Council’s Aldermen, either to replace Aldermen who died or were indicted). So Chicago has a comprehensive bicycle plan that actually, you know, gets done. You want bike racks outside your business or local El station? Contact the city and they’ll install ‘em. Roads appropriate for bike traffic get sharrows and those which are perfect get bike lanes. A new park is built downtown, put in a bike center, with lockers and showers for bike commuters. Keep expanding the lakefront path. Drivers endanger cyclists? Increase the fines and have cops out writing tickets for drivers who door cyclists or cut them off.
All of this has happened because Daley wanted it to happen and then made it happen, not because a bunch of gear-heads block traffic one Friday rush hour a month. No single businessman can call up the city and whine and get a street taken off the plan for bike lanes. No community meetings, no endless planning, just corruption (Daley’s supporters make money on all the road work, for instance) and a bike-able city.
And you Critical Massers who are about to go to comments and tell me to go fuck myself, thanks in advance for your sentiments. You want to change people’s minds about cycling in the city? Organize a ride which starts in twenty remote locations, and consists of several dozen cyclists from each location riding downtown, single file to allow cars to proceed, while obeying all traffic laws. This will demonstrate to drivers that cyclists and drivers can co-exist peacefully, instead of the unmitigated asshattery of taking over the whole street. Yeah, you can do it, but all you do is piss people off.