Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Remember the Four-Es bicycle advocacy approach that the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) used to push? These were the self-explanatory principals that were thought should guide bicycle advocacy efforts: Engineering, Education, Enforcement, and Encouragement, and was meant to replace the "facilities only" thinking of the 1970s.
But things have changed (as has the LAB). Instead of the Four-Es, we now have the "For Ease" approach:
ENGINEERING: The reliance on sound traffic and civil engineering practice has been replaced with Exterior Decorating, as practiced by Landscape Architects and Urban Planners (with increasing resignation from licensed career-minded engineers). If it looks good to non-cyclists (especially if it looks good in cities near the North Sea), then it is good.
EDUCATION: The old idea that bicyclists can be easily taught to operate safely in a vehicular manner is out of fashion now, (and considered downright fascist by some). The implication that cyclists ought, or are even able, to learn the simple procedures and techniques that enable them them to operate in the traffic mix with automobiles is now seen as laughable and elitist.
ENFORCEMENT: The idea that fair and equal enforcement of traffic laws should be applied to both motorists and bicyclists has now fallen by the wayside. Now, the prevailing "advocacy" position is that enforcement should be a one-way street (directed only toward motorists)... and it should be a street that cyclists can ride on the wrong way.
ENCOURAGEMENT: Rather than being encouraged to take their rightful and safe place as part of the transportation landscape, cyclists must now be encouraged by embracing segregation, and by the rejection of the other three original Es as being elitist.
The "For Ease" approach is the end result of the ABC Design-Cyclist theory (A: Skilled, elitest cyclists, B: College students and casual cyclists, and C: Children), and the decision to focus bicycle transportation efforts on the B/C cyclists (while claiming the A-Class cyclists only make up 5% of cyclists, and that that number is static and cannot be raised).
For much of the propagation this dismal opinion of American cyclists (if not most of it), we can thank ProBike/ProWalk (a guaranteed source of "For Ease" propaganda), the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP... as unprofessional a "professional group" as has ever made a splash in public policy), Bikes Belong, the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy, and the League of American Bicyclists... all of which now have a direct physical and philosophical link with the old astroturf
industry lobbyist group BikeFed, who just so happens to have been the inventor of the Design Cyclist approach.
Perhaps to supplement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we can soon look forward to the Americans with Bicycles Act (ABA), with similar provisions and protections.