Un momento de zapping a Twitter.

Posted on 15 septiembre 2010. Filed under: ., Amsterdam | Etiquetas: , , , , |

Work keeps piling up. A guy in twitter, who started out the discussion trying some faux-zen unintelligible lines, went on to repeating the usual bikelaneist platitudes (complete with the obligatory go at cheap sentimentality with the “kids and grannies” argument) and then did some lovely effort to be sarcastic, managed for just a moment (before quickly moving on with some good old-fashioned straw man fallacies) to ask an apparently genuine question:

@bicilibre so, lost a bit here…what was your argument and backing again? And can we cut the hostilities?

Oh. So this guy wants to know “my argument and backing”. And apparently he wants it in 140 characters. Oh là là. Not unusual, though: the world is full of people who are willing to give you a 140-character (or ten-minute) “opportunity” to explain yourself. That is, of course, because they think they know what they are talking about and because they think what they “know” is all there is to the question at hand. Such sweet souls.

Well, my friend: I have five years’ worth of “argument and backing” right here in my blog, although most of it happens to be, unfortunately, in a language you probably are not familiar with. So I will make a short statement about my position, in English. The “arguments and backings” are all over the place, in Internet and in the real world, in plain view for anybody who cares to read the writing on the wall: you can find them and join the dots just as I have, and one excellent way to begin would be just to actually start looking at what happens in the streets: you would be amazed by the things you can learn.

So here it is. Beware: as I am writing this in a bit of a hurry, this statement is likely to be retouched and refined as I find the opportunity or the need. This post will stay frozen, but the evolved version will be here:

Cycling in the Netherlands – a quick and dirty summary v.0.1.

My position is that the high level of bicycle use in the Netherlands and Denmark is due to historical, social, political, economic and cultural reasons that have no relation whatsoever (repeat after me: no relation whatsoever) with the segregation paradigm or with the abundance of cycle lanes.

My position, furthermore, is that the segregation paradigm is in fact a car-centric policy launched in a historical moment when the motorized vehicle was deemed to be “the future of modern cities” (ha ha ha!!!) with the explicit goal (repeat after me: explicit goal) to accommodate the existing huge levels of bicycle traffic in the least bothersome possible manner to give way to the new city star (the motorized car) with the assumption that bicycle traffic would eventually die out as the demographic replacement occurred (which is in fact exactly what was happening in Denmark and the Netherlands until the 1973 oil crisis).

My position, therefore, is that the high levels of safety enjoyed by the Dutch and Danish cyclists have no relation whatsoever with the segregated structures, and are instead due to the driving culture in the country (which is, also and itself, due to historical, social, political, economic and cultural reasons that run parallel to the ones that underpin the high level of cycling). Putting it in other words: it is not, despite what you and your bikelaneist friends have chosen to believe and propagate, that the bike lanes “protect” you-cyclists from you-drivers. Much to the contrary, it is the you-drivers (and the care you exercise) what is silently protecting you-cyclists from the traps and dangers awaiting you in the bike lanes.

My position, also, is that the segregationist policies have pushed the Dutch cyclists into a very specific social and urban niche: the niche that in other societies (such as Spain) is occupied by the pedestrians. The data show that applying segregationist policies in those other countries will probably get more pedestrians to cycle, but is extremely unlikely (repeat after me: extremely unlikely) to take any number of car drivers out of their cars and on their bikes (in fact that is exactly what is already happening in cities such as Sevilla, although it is a fact that bikelaneists are not very happy to see talked about). Since we already have a very healthy pedestrian culture (much healthier than yours, in fact), I don’t see any reason why we should jeopardize that pedestrian culture following the segregationist model to get people (i.e. pedestrians, but not car drivers) on bikes, and see, instead, every reason to resist and fight the mindless creation of segregated bike lanes that is plaguing our cities.

In conclusion, my position is that the factors that make cycle lanes relatively harmless (?) in the Netherlands are absent and cannot be reproduced anywhere else, and that the brainless effort to copycat segregationist policies elsewhere is not only born dead, but is doomed to result in a huge increase in artificial conflicts (both with pedestrians and with car drivers), accidents, injuries and deaths. Which is, in act, what is already happening in the cities that have taken the “avant-garde” position in the bike-lane-building madness (although, again, this is not a very politically correct subject to talk about). And all that, as I wrote above, to get somewhere we don’t want to be in the first place, which is putting pedestrians on wheels (what we pejoratively call here “cyclestrians”).

Because, face it, that is what you have in Denmark and the Netherlands: not a “cycling culture” as you like to boast, but a cyclestrian culture: a culture of wheeled pedestrians. The fact (this will shock you, I know) is that the segregationist policies have crippled the ability of Dutch cyclists to a point in which you need to re-learn to use your bikes in natural streets of any difficulty just to get out of the bike-lane-theme-park in which you have transformed your countries.

And my position is, to round it up, that the often repeated line that Copenhagen or Amsterdam are “the cycling capitals of the world” is a stinking heap of western-centric, navel-gazing, hyper-opulent, smugly decadent, worthless political propagandistic horsecrap. There are a number of societies (including the Danish and Dutch societies of just a few decades ago) that have much better ratios of cyclists/pedestrians and bikes/cars, in much more natural conditions and without so much fuss about “dedicated cycle infrastructures”, than Copenhagen or Amsterdam have now and can hope to have in the foreseeable future. Of course, as we all know, if we are to believe the rampant bikelaneist idiocy oozing from your side of the wide World, those societies apparently don’t count because “if they could, they would use cars”.

So, in short, you can keep your bike lanes to yourselves, thank you very much: we’ll have to put a sanitary belt around your countries (which some of us jokingly label “Vikingland”) to make sure the bike lane madness doesn’t spread too much, and in a few years (certainly by the next generation) your cycling-in-bike-lanes culture will be just like (or rather more strange than) the British’ driving-on-the-left traffic: a cute and quaint feature of Dutch and Danish national culture, part of the charm of visiting those countries. Because everywhere else in the world cyclists will ride naturally in the streets, happily mingling with whatever urban motor traffic is left.



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More texts in English here, here, here, here, or here.

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39 comentarios to “Un momento de zapping a Twitter.”

RSS Feed for El carril-bici es el opio del pueblo ciclista Comments RSS Feed

jajaja eso no te lo crees ni tu. tururú jajajaja. En sevilla queremos ser vikingos entonces. Yo mas bien diria que esto del carril bici sera algo como internet, pues existen en china, japon, holanda, Dinamarca, EEUU, colombia, Chile, Mexico, España, Alemania, Francia,, italia ¿Sigo?

vete a africa, alli aun no los tienen, aunque creo que tardarán poco

Ea! He aquí el expansionismo colonizador de la lacra religiosa, el intregrismo: fé en el carril-bici. A capa y espada jodiendo a los africanos, indios, chinos…. TODOS SOMOS HOLANDA! Haced carriles-bici hasta vuestro mismisimo culo. Un goce.

Colonializing the US. That, of course, is nothing new. And now with bikelanes…sure! But colonialism, really? Come on… Spain was big on colonialism once as well, so there would be nothing wrong with a little counter-colonializing, eh. Just to settle the scores. Your proud, manly, selves should be able to stomach a little colonializing. It´s not like we are telling people what to eat…

Ha ha ha ha… this guy’s rumblings are quickly approaching Mr Amsterdamize’s traits. Sorry, man, I don’t have time to deal with your larger post now, but I promise I will in due time.

Feeling compelled: Straw man? Hey Tarzan: The lycra, 21 speed bike thing? Insulted? I thought it was pretty harmless! So coming up, some long winded attempts at accommodating your arguments (albeit loosely):

Seems like you cannot compose your little attempts at rational thought without sad attempts at insulting people or ad hominem arguments. I don´t get it, and I cannot for my life see how this furthers any dialogue around the issues at hand. But I´m happy to see that you actually figured out that I didn´t particularly want your answer in a tweet, as you seemed to think. Some of us learned the linking thing in twitter some time ago.

Most links actually truncate into less that 140 chars…

Be that as it may. You probably won´t like this, but I see some particular merit in your argument. I especially like your exposition of different bike cultures and segregationist policy. I am not convinced, since I believe some of the premises for the argument for NOT building bike lanes are dubious non sequiturs. And your criticism, of course, entails a whole lot of misplaced concretion that does not suit a supposedly rational argument (e.g. something scandinavian welfare culture is bad and unmanly, hence bike lanes are bad and girlish/sentimental/for the retarded etc. etc.)

I DO like your argument about pedestrian culture (again, of course, you cannot present your argument without somehow affirming the “health” of your own culture in that respect. A bit sad, I guess…)

But I digress. I particularly like your argument that pedestrian culture is not taken into consideration when we consider segregation and different sorts of bike culture. In that I think you are on the spot! I would, however without the numbers or any claims of healthy cultures, go on to say that Danish bike culture is not at the expense of a pedestrian culture. I think that mediterranean cultures have probably developed a strong history of walking (is it the ‘paseo’, strolling, you call it where you are?)…I like that.

However, again, different contexts breed different kinds of practices, and Danish weather has rarely been accommodating idle walking or being exposed much public, outdoor places. I do not know your insights into scandinavian pedestrian culture, but mine is rather limited. We walk, for sure, and are often appalled at US urban infrastructures that simply disallow walking. Having lived in the US (and now in Australia, same thing – almost), this gets me every time – even in the middle class big university towns where we have been living. Walking to the store, in many towns, is just not something you do. Never. It is an alien concept. Unless you are dead poor or terribly stubborn (me, being the latter). I would add that biking in the US is also, in many places, approached as either a form of sport or something quite heedless, gung-ho messenger style “risk your life to look cool” sort of biking…

SO, what I was really after: to me, and I hasten to add, TO ME, bike lanes are not so much about security (which apparently that do not necessarily offer) as they are about convenience and ease of use. They are about being able to take the kids (5 and 8) on their daily commute (which for some reason you don’t believe in…that little insult of yours was kind of odd…), being able to cross the city everyday on a dedicated bike lane that takes me across the water and shortcuts the city centre nice and easily – faster than car (much), faster than bus (some), as fast as with the Metro – cheaper and less claustrophobic. And you are, perhaps, fighting windmills here, since the numbers are there to support that in the case of Copenhagen, bicycling rates are on the rise, closing in on 40% commuting to work every day. Might be because of lanes, might not…how can we tell…

I can certainly tell you that living in Northern Queensland, Australia now, the difference in culture and infrastructure strikes me. Working at the university, I see cyclist, but very limited numbers, all dressed up for sports, helmets, fancy bikes. It’s a lifestyle of the middle aged, odd and stubborn here, rather than a pleasure and a convenience. The thing is that bike lanes are, to my mind, mistakenly constructed here as ‘leisure’ paths here, not as commuting lanes. You go picnicking with the bike, not to work.

I completely and emphatically AGREE that Copenhagen style bike lanes are not transplantable to every kind of city, every kind of culture. I NEVER suggested that, nor would I ever. I think you are potentially on to something in your argument, and that argument needs to be heard.

Of course, presenting it in a less bickering and boisterous fashion would perhaps further your cause? No more ad hominem, stay on the ball, not the balls. Just a suggestion. I know this is a kind of impersonal medium, making not-very-helpful sarcasm easy…but still.

Oh, btw. re. cute and quaint left hand driving. Hm. Did you ever go outside europe at all? Qaint as it might feel to you, most countries in southern Africa, all of India, Japan, Australia, and the whole of Indonesia are left hand side driven. Doesn´t feel that cute and quaint at all. Quite a lot of people, lots of cars in those countries…

Wow, you find I am “angry about this”? Sharp boy, aren’t you?

You can fucking bet that I am angry: I am sick to the teeth of politicians getting political advantage by littering our cities, towns and even little villages with segregationist shit that is endangering bicycle users and damaging pedestrians; I am sick of idiotic self-styled “bicycle advocates” claiming for “segregated facilities” in prefectly ridable streets for reasons too sinister to detail now; I am sick of idiots like you calling me and people like me and any natural cyclists who just take our bikes and go where we need “show-off road warriors with gung-ho attitude”; I am sick of Copenhagen and Amsterdam being hailed as some kind of cycling-Shangri-la by retards who spent there a whole week-end thanks to a low-cost air ticket and came back thinking that they knew something. I am sick of the stupid and demagogic fear-mongering and conflict-imagining that has swept the bicycles out of our streets “until cycle facilities are put in” and that has created a generation of bicycle users that behave on their bikes like (worse than) handicapped in wheelchairs, and that label us “elitist lycra-tarzans” just because we don’t buy the bullshit and have actually bothered to learn the truth and the safety of natural cycling; I am sick of feeling-good cycling politics and of the ignorance, irresponsability and feeling of entitlement that segregationism has brought to urban cycling; I am sick of the stupid and phychopathic passive-agressive segregationist discourse, submisively self-righteous towards motor traffic and petulantly and abusively self-righteous towards pedestrians. I am sick of having to put up with the increased, artificial hostility that i get from car drivers when a bike lane is built in a street where I had previously had no problems worth talking about riding with traffic. Had enough yet for your homework, or do you want more for your list?

And now, please do take note that I am abstaining from making fun of your vacuous learned-man-prose about “ad hominem arguments”, “dubious non sequiturs” and “misplaced concretion that does not suit a supposedly rational argument”, about the nonsense of your 5 y.o. “commuting” to school, or about your lame attempts at irony about twitter’s 140 chars, left-hand traffic or the Spanish empire: However harsh I am, I strive to keep discussions of focus. I hope that counts a bit as “presenting it in a less bickering and boisterous fashion that furthers my cause” before you, because that is what you get, but don’t stretch it.

I am, in fact, very tempted to skin you over your light-hearted-to-the-point-of-brainlessness dismissal of the safety issue in segregated structures, but I’ll give you the opportunity to do your own homework.

And now, to cut it short, let me tell you one last thing: You all but accused me of insulting you Danes. Now if you care to re-read both my post and your comments, you will find that I, in fact, praise the Danish culture and give them the merit (so to speak: let’s not get too deep into this) for the segregated structures not being a total catastrophe. By contrast, the whole segregation paradigm is based on the principle that (Danish) car drivers are not to be trusted and that the (Danish) cyclists are to be kept as far away from the (Danish) car drivers for as long as possible. So, let me tell you: it is the segregation paradigm, and the segregationists, who are insulting you Danes; and people like you, who has bought so easily and so deeply the segregationist rip-off, are insulting yourselves in doing it.

For fuck sake, am I sick of going through these repetitive discussions and being obliged to state the obvious over and over.

Gee, I’m glad your so responsive. Sorry that I upset you man. Truly. The thing that gets me here (and I’m trying not to be the idiot you claim I am) is this: you say:

“just because we don’t buy the bullshit and have actually bothered to learn the truth and the safety of natural cycling”.

My comments to this is: first of all, is there an absolute truth to this at all? Call me relativist, but as I said I am more than prepared to give that lanes work in some places, not in others. Fine. Truths about laneism are definately not final but rather local?

Secondly, you talk about “natural cycling” as though there can be such a thing. What does that mean? I have a hard time with argument of something being inherently natural. First of all, it is renders everything else “un-natural” (but that, perhaps is what you meant by “decadent”? Secondly, what do you base your argument to the natural on? History, biology? What, in the first place, is natural about bicycling?

Thirdly, ad hominem might be just a fancy term, but the idea is pretty straight forward: Don´t insult the guy, don´t be so obsessed with the “zapping a tweeter” part if you want to come across as rational. Go for the argument. But that was for the last post. Now “idiot” of course is a bit harsh, but as said; bring on the shite!

Fourthly: I still don´t get the thing about my kids riding to school on bikes – fine, let us refrain from calling it commuting (even if apparently; “Bicycle commuting is the use of a bicycle to travel from home to a place of work or study — in contrast to the use of a bicycle for sport, recreation or touring”

– be that as it may. I am just saying that I would not have the guts to ride with two small kids on two wheels in the traffic. If you can do that, 200 days a year good for you.

Just, where do you see kids grow up actually riding bikes to school every day from they are 5. Portland? Seville? Remind me again, how many actually take the bike to work or school in Spain, rather than car? And school kids; how many? Rather than bus or other motorized transport? More homework, I guess, but a comparison would be interesting (for me, at least).

I can see that numbers for Danish school kids biking to school have been (sadly) on the decrease the last few years, however seem to apparently begin to rise again.

I am still curious whether this has any connection to the actual presence of bike lanes in CPH – how do you explain it? Mind you, for it to be convincing, the explanation – the links between the parts of the argument – probably need to be fairly simple. I am sure that we could make up long chains to explain a drop in biking to school, but that would entail that all parts of the argument were valid. Pretty hard to prove!

The current slight rise is probably artifacts of a range of “bike to school” campaigns targeted at schools. That, at least, is my simple explanation.

Fifthly and finally, I am bloody trying to take in your perspective here, so go a bit easy. Makes the whole discussion less verbose too. My initial perspective was leaning heavily towards your average arrogant bikelaneism, and I have learned from the discussion. I will not give up my position that bikelanes actually work in CPH, (as you suggest, too)…but give me break from the insults.

Hi Mads, I developed an app to compare modal share between european cities, data from Eurostat website:


You can try with more cities if you want, but there is always the same trend: north europe has less pedestrian and more bike share than Spain, but usually not less cars.

CPH is an exception, but they have a pretty agressive car tax system, I think it could be related.

Interesting stuff, I will have a look. A very constructive approach. Sure, I think the car tax thing explains some parts of the story…

Es un detalle que se tiende a ignorar y cuando pasas en CPH algo mas que un fin de semana de visita se hace patente, a parte que el transporte público para una ciudad que no es muy grande también es caro, por mucho que sus salarios sean muy superiores a los nuestros todo lo que no sea moverte en bici es infinitamente mas caro.

OK, I’ll try to believe that you are trying to have a honest discussion here, but excuse me if I am wary: It is not the first time someone comes around looking nice and just wanting to get on my nerves and waste my time. We’ll find out.

Now, just to get it out of the way: an “ad hominem” is by no means the same as a plain, old fashioned, healthy insult. Since we are not here to discuss prepositional logic, I’ll leave learning the difference between them as an exercise for you, but just saying: gratuitously throwing around that kind of big words doesn’t make you look good in the intellectual discipline area, man.

Second: of course there is something called “truth”, at least as opposed to a lot of things called (sometimes, but not nearly often enough) “lies”. The force of Gravity, the law of inertia, and a few more subtle principles of human biology, psychology and behaviour are part of that “truth”, in at least two senses: they work the same everywhere, and you ignore them at your own peril. (And please, don’t insult my -and yours- intelligence with the usual drivel about how Relativity has made Gravity obsolete. You know what I mean).

Third: I guess the only really “natural” human way of moving is by foot: walking or running. But inasmuch as cycling can be considered natural at all, of course there are ways of cycling which are more natural than others, just as a tin of canned tomatoes without colorants, preservatives, antioxidants, stabilizers, acidity regulators, and flavour enhancers can be considered “more natural” than another can of tomatoes which includes all that shit that we have come to consider part of our “food”. I hope you get the analogy, because bike-lane-cycling is, er, cycling stuffed with colorants (hahaha) preservatives (hahahaha) and flavour enhancers (hahahahaha).

Fourth: You may be trying, but you are clearly not getting this bit yet, so I’ll repeat it once again for your benefit: Bike lanes do not “work”, by any meaningful definition of the term, in Denmark; Talking strictly about cyclists’ safety (to focus the discussion for the time being) bike lanes certainly do not work more in Denmark than plain quality streets “work” everywhere else. What “works for cyclists’ safety” is strictly the traffic culture in each country, and Dutch traffic culture (as I already told you and you seem to have overlooked), is a result of the huge number of cyclists you had in the 1920’s and the result of a process of adaptation to the aggression committed against it by 80 years of bikelaneism, in very much the same way that a tree grows a deformed stump to protect itself against a steel bar nailed through it.

And that’s it for today. Work to do and out for a few days. Next up: your 5 y.o. “commute” and how the bikelaneist “solution” to it renders impossible Superkaos’ commute. Have fun.

Right, good. The ad hominem was directed against your derailing of the discussion by pointing in a derisive/sarcastic manner to my initial input, as well as the whole “the world is full of people who are stupid (such as this idiot on twitter)” thing you had going for a while. Try rereading the beginning of the post. If this was not undercutting my argument by insult, I fail (as I so often do) in understanding the purpose of the first paragraphs. So while this may not be the good way to go about it, I went cherrypicking and found: “Ad hominem abuse (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one’s opponent in order to invalidate his or her argument” – hence…!

Be that as it may.

I obviously have a hard time being clear about my relativist stance in various matters. This is not the first time I (or my kin) get the “but sticks and stones are true by any standard” kind of answer to a relatively weak relativist argument such as my “nothing definite can be said about the naturalcy of riding in the street or riding in a bike lane, since both are dependent upon political and cultural choices taken far upstream from where we are now…”

This derails the point made by ridiculing a über-solipsist, hyper-constructivist, un-reconstructed-pre-science wars form of freak relativism that I do not believe my point IN ANY WAY was trying to replicate.

Merely, I was trying to QUESTION whether it is reasonable to talk about “true cyclists” and more pertinently about the opposite of course…what apparent “truth” is it that I, by riding in a bike lane, do not adhere to? Hence true and false cycling are, to my ears, meaningless terms. To my mind, there can be only cycling and not cycling! (oh, and electric bikes, of course, but that is another discussion;-).

Of course, the debate on food has a more pressingly ethical perspective since it is more directly body related rather than, say, about a relatively benign mechanical practice. I do not find the metaphors convincing. Also, of course, the boundaries btw. what is perceived natural are culturally dependent, – MSG, to stay in food related areas, is hardly considered unnatural in many asian countries, while it is frowned upon in most european cultures. And they are historically contingent; naturalcy is in it self a construction that is hardly historically universal.

So, lest this turns into a discussion of constructivism:

Re. whether bike lanes work or not in Copenhagen: so, you are saying that the bike lanes (specifically in Copenhagen) are not more or less safe? Compared to other cities with “true” biking culture, yes? Yet at the same time, you also say that the reasons why they “might work” or not be a total disaster at least is because of a specific traffic culture in e.g. DK and NL. This sounds like a very tricky argument you are making here, first comparing it with other cities (many of which have less biking, some of which have more, but of course if numbers are weighted) and then adding to the argument making assumptions about traffic culture and what I would assume were relatively complex historical and cultural conditions. Re. safety, I took the easy way and found the less than satisfying article on wikipedia:


…most references in that articles suck so bad that I am curious whether people in either camp are not doing themselves a disservice in posting them. Very annoying that article.

So, one question, indeed my initial question: WHAT exactly backs your claims of bike lanes being INHERENTLY bad, (and not, as I would claim, LOCALLY bad). I find arguments of naturalcy and universal claims of them being just bad bad bad, but hardly more than that. My belief, now, is that they work HERE, in CPH, (granted, I am not there NOW), not necessarily elsewhere. They are not, if you like, transplantable which, at the beginning of our conversation, I firmly believed.

Since that wiki article did not help me at all, I would like to see fairly uncontested numbers for accident rates in Copenhagen (weighted against numbers of bikers) in comparison with your “true” biking cities (and I am guessing these actually exist) as well as something that would render your cultural-historical reconstruction of Danish bike culture since the 1920s plausible. I simply do not know where to look for such material.

So if direct me to quality sources on which you build your argument, I would like to look at them.

My own argument, i.e. for now, is build on the empirical observation that the bike lanes in CPH work for me. I grew up in the country side, no lanes and all, but came to love biking as a way of commuting in CPH. I use them every day, this includes riding with the family (and I hope that you will excuse my seemingly unbearable sentimentalism here – but you seem just about to fire more belligerent stuff at the fact that I bike to school with my 5 and 8 y.o. every effin´day. Cannot for the world see why you wanna go for that…but sure, go ahead: I am sure my kids (or my Grandmother) do not read these posts anyway.

It is also built on my assumption that the number of cyclists in DK is relatively high compared to other, say, US and Euro cities, and that while this may have a variety of complex chains of explanations, bike lanes might be part of this.

The other assumption I have is that is might be hard to DISPROVE that they have a positive effect on the numbers of riders (again, in Copenhagen and, for arguments sake, in the Netherlands as well).

Now, of course, I would never get you to try to prove a negative, but going from my unscientific observations, I would say that they are positively enticing young and old (yeah, sappy sappy,…sorry) and in-betweens to go out and ride. In my book, that is a good thing.

Re. the prove and disprove thing, my argument would probably be that it is very hard to do either, very hard to prove that they are inherently BAD, very hard to prove that they are inherently GOOD. Chains of effects and socio-cultural/historical conditions are simply too complex to give a simple, uncontested statement about this…

Next to last, I would like to ask a slightly more personal question. Did you ever ride a bike in Copenhagen or visit? If, what was your impression?

Lastly, I am actually enjoying this discussion. Hope you still are…

I can’t fucking believe I have been taken in once again.

I’ll skip all the blah blah about my (supposedly) derailing the discussion. I’ll skip (with more difficulty) your post-modernist gibberish about “relativist stances”, which I see over and again used in fact (like now, for instance, by you) to derail discussions. I’ll also skip your nonsensical ramblings about my “tricky argument”, because by that point I can see your strategy and the future: for each line of relativist idiocy you write I would need to spend hours writing to “deconstruct” it into the different elements of the Periodic Table of Idiocies it is composed of: I could, but it is by now clear that you are not worth it. As for “my metaphors”, if you do not want to find them convincing, I can understand why, of course: I’ll skip that too.

But let me tell you why I am now convinced that you are a freaking idiot:

Re. safety, I took the easy way and found the less than satisfying article on wikipedia:


…most references in that articles suck so bad that I am curious whether people in either camp are not doing themselves a disservice in posting them. Very annoying that article.

You, sir, are, as I said above, a complete pompous imbecile dickhead. If you think the references in that article “suck so bad”, you should bring forward your own references, or a good rationale as for why they “suck so bad”.

But I am pretty sure you won’t come up with that rationale or with those references because, simply, as I said before, you are a complete pompous imbecile dickhead.

A last word: watch out for your 5 y.o. when (s)he is riding with you, because (s)he is riding in very bad company.

And now, I beg you to excuse me: if you don’t come up with something worth talking about, you are wasting my time.


Oh, well. Same old, same old. Nevermind. I shall give you two prominent examples, let me see what you say. First, this quote from the wiki article:

“A similar finding had been reported for Denmark in 1989, where it was found that there was no correlation between cycle facilities and increased cycling unless active traffic restraint measures were also present. In Denmark as a whole, the establishment of a huge cycling infrastructure has been accompanied by cycling levels that have stayed roughly stable (with minor fluctuations) since 1975”

The reference here, of course, is not a problem at all, as there IS no fucking reference. As it is it comes across as taken completely out of the blue. I repeat, there IS no reference. Do you understand the implications of that?

Secondly, and this is merely scratching the surface, reference no. 46 is taken, in the article, to indicate that bike lanes means a wholesale increase in the amount of accidents. However, upon reading said (and conveniently UN-linked) reference, we learn that “The conclusion is that the safety benefit of cycle lanes are very good except at some priority junctions located alongside the cycle lane” (Jensen et al. 1997).

They go on to note: “Marking the bicycle overpasses resulted in a 36% significant reduction in the number of bicycle accidents, see table 1. The number of killed and severely injured cyclists decreased significantly by 57%. No changes in the number of moped and other accidents were observed.”

This, to me, does not constitute clear and compelling evidence that bike lanes are bad and dangerous. It shows they are not perfect, but dangerous? Not really. Thus, the reference is used to provide evidence for something it does not say. Hence, bad reference! Hence my comment.

Of course, you might find the article of high quality. I expect more from wiki than some more or less unsubstatiated bullshit and purposely misleading conclusions based on otherwise quality research. But that is just me.

Answer pending. Thanks for waiting.

Gee, surprisingly, found another crappy ref, not that hard in an wiki article that suffers from severe reference bloat:

The article “Two decades of the Redway cycle paths in Milton Keynes”, published in Traffic Engineering & Control (which is a non-peer reviewed “magazine” for traffic engineers (oh, they promise a proof reading before publication…good!) is used to push some of the arguments (albeit, surprisingly, it is linked to ref. 45…). The “article” goes on to say that:

“A common story is that use of the Redways and leisure routes has led people to become disillusioned with cycling for, having found such an ‘ideal’ system so difficult to use and unsuited to their needs, they have concluded that it must be they who are unsuited to cycling.”

…huh, sorry what, a common “story”? How, by whom, where, when, how many, collected in what way. No method, theory, or methodology is used to explain how these “common stories” were obtained, not.a.word! Can you say unsubstantiated bullshit? This is exactly the same kind of bull that you peddle above – using some loosely collected “facts”, i.e. numbers, then going on to (not) use these to say what people think and feel and what is natural cycling and that I am mentally retarded.

Ok, I give you this: I concur that many refs there are good and tidy. However, these are also very cautious and subtle in their conclusions, whereas the crappy ones that help build much of the argumentats in the wiki article are unsubstantiated bull and/or misused. They are “stories” and editorial style ramblings…

So, I found a good article that you might consider for cooling down. Good reading over morning tea: “SAFETY IMPLICATIONS OF BICYCLE PATHS AT SIGNALIZED INTERSECTIONS” (Gårder et al 1993), a meta study of bike path safety in intersections. They are good examples of the cautiousness with which claims to either side should be approached: They write e.g. that their meta study shows a 40% increase in accidents in intersections w. paths, BUT, and this is important, it being a meta study, they argue for better methods applied to future studies as they deem previous studies (particularly in Scandinavia) to be methodologically weak.

They further argue that “It is also obvious that bike paths, in general, enhance safety in between the intersections; and some 20% of the serious accidents occurs here in mixed traffic systems” – hence looking at inbetween intersections, there is an increase in safety w. lanes. And go on to conclude with suggestions for improving safety at intersections.

Oh, and after doing your maths on that article, could you explain this one:

“watch out for your 5 y.o. when (s)he is riding with you, because (s)he is riding in very bad company”

Are you suggesting that I am bad company and that he will try to hit me or something, since you say I should watch out for him? Or is it Danes Riding Bikes in general who are bad company, and I should watch out for…them, or…him…

Dude, you´re not even making an effort with your insults anymore. Grammar and prepositions is important. Makes insults easier to understand…oh wait, it IS an insult, right?

So, once again, the following from the wiki article in question:

“The Netherlands and Denmark, which have the highest rates of cycle usage combined with the best records for safety, used to give their segregated cycle path networks primary importance in achieving these goals. However, the largest study undertaken into the safety of Danish cycle facilities has found that safety has decreased as a result.[27]”. Good, seems to be dissing the cycle tracks.

However, what reference 27 actually shows is somewhat more muddy:

“The construction of cycle tracks in Copenhagen has resulted in an increase in cycle traffic of 18-20% and a decline in car traffic of 9-10%. The cycle tracks constructed have resulted in increases in accidents and injuries of 9-10% on the reconstructed roads.”

Aha, we learn that there is an increase in cycle traffic and a decrease in car traffic. Right. Oh, and the increased numbers of accidents are apparently not statistically different. How…nuanced…

The paper goes on to conclude that:

“Taken in combination, the cycle tracks and lanes which have been constructed have had positive results as far as traffic volumes and feelings of security go. They have however, had negative effects on road safety. The radical effects on traffic volumes resulting from the construction of cycle tracks will undoubtedly result in gains in health from increased physical activity. These gains are much, much greater than the losses in health resulting from a slight decline in road safety.”

So the resulting decline is both slight and not statistically significant…aha!

Shall we wait and see how the accident rates develop over time before we make any grandiose claims of cycle tracks or lanes increasing the risk of accidents?

And of course, you of course mean to say that Danes are smugly ARROGANT, not smugly decadent, right. Just correcting your prejudices. At least in my ears smugly decadent is not really an appropriate insult…

Well, if your background makes you unable to grasp the nuances behind the expression “smugly decadent”, I guess we can settle for something like “smugly arrogant, self-satisfiedly decadent”, or something like that. Agreed? I wouldn’t want to leave out the “decadent” bit, so feel free to offer any other alternative including it that suits you.

Just for the record, let me draw your attention to the fact that when I wrote about the “western-centric, navel-gazing, hyper-opulent, smugly decadent, worthless political propagandistic horsecrap”, I was explicitly refering to the bikelaneist discourse about Amsterdam/Copenhagen and NOT in any way to “the Danes”, so your statement about it is a plain lie and a calumny. But I might tell you more about it when I have the time, and I very much doubt that you will like what I have to tell you.

Meanwhile you might want to apologize for writing that, of course.

Wow, you are definitely angry about this. Hope you don´t spend too much time on it. There are probably other problems in the world that would need another 5 years of thorough research. Damn, dude, take it easy. But sure, if you like, just shovel some more shite bickering my way. That will definitely further your argument. Just sayin´ maybe I will listen more carefully if you´re didn´t come across as so religious…

My apologies. No worries. Came out harsher than expected. All worked up and such. Main gripe was with the association of smugness and decadence.

You know, I wonder if the countries with the most bike lanes will produce the best cyclists. Doping notwithstanding, it does seem that the pre-lane US did have some sort of prolific flowering of talent in the 80’s, 90’s, and maybe the early 00’s. It’d be a shame to see all this upcoming talent get neutered with 20km/hr lanes and pathways. Real buzzkill.

Yeah, they truly ARE decadent, bike lanes. I see that now…;-)

Re. buzzkill – yes, absolutely. Commuting on a bike is not all that buzzy. Sorry, but who cares about buzz when driving to work. Coffee does it for me…

Once thing is for sure, now that I ride 50km each day to and from work If I had to do it on a bike path it would take me forever and wouldn’t be practical at all. If I were forced to use a bike path I would definitely drive a car to work. So yeah I want my bike commute to be a practical form of transportation, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.

They produce the best car horn blowers. I have been bike commuting for 2 years now and It’s been two months since I started a new route, it has a bike path which is completely garbage because it’s got a big wall separating it from the road, hence whenever I need to get to the left lane to turn left I can not do it, therefore I ignore the path and just ride on the road. You would be amazed at how many car drivers blow the horn at me now, just on that road, it never happened before to me. They have plenty of space to pass me (it is a four lane road) and they angrily point at the bike lane as if I could just magically jump the wall. I just smile at them and wave…

Amazing how much “look at me, I ride thousands of km to work 12 days a week, in rain and sleet and tropical cyclones, in 4000 m elevation” gung-ho attitude this debate spawns – I´ve see this stuff elsewhere as well. Funny how you guys can´t accept that a 6 km each way, in moderate tempo, wearing regular clothes, riding with others kind of commute can be a pleasantly efficient experience. For you guys, it´s a bloody competition…

I don’t know who you are refering to, but I never said that I didn’t accept that riding 6km a day at a moderate tempo is ok (whatever it means for that to be ok or not). I started doing 3km on a folding bike to the train. Then I moved to a different part of town and I no longer needed the train at the expense of increasing my distance to 13km, which since I enjoyed it so much I started doing on a better bike. Lately my work office has moved and I yet have another distance increase. I have found out that the new distance can be done in a reasonable time but only if one uses the main streets and roads and only if one pays attention to things like tires, bike position and clothing (specially if you don’t use a culotte for 1 hour your ass get soared, I know because I have tried). It is just basic bicycle science, the power available is limited so you have to be clever reducing drag, and since the duration is long you don’t want to be uncomfortable. After riding for two years I now know of no streets and only of a few roads, here in Madrid, Spain, where I would not ride my bike, in almost 99% of them it is a lot of fun to do it, but I think that the problem people have with traffic is that they haven’t tried seriously and don’t have a clue how easy it really is if you bother to learn basic stuff, I guess the same could be said of driving a car, this is my experience at least.

Anyway the comment about the horn blowers is also my experience, and I just can not stop and wonder why that kind of behavior by auto drivers only has happened on a road with a bike path next to it, maybe it is because they think that I belong to the bike path? I don’t have a problem with you using it at your speed whatever it is and with the clothes you like, or naked if you like, but let me ride on the road also. As it is now I have to avoid roads that have bike paths next to it or else I get drivers angry at me.

Yeah, sure. I know. My claim (and as you will see, it is a claim) would just be that there are still very few people like you in Madrid, while in CPH roughly 40% of the population use the bike to get to work.

I am not underestimating your effort and determination, but for me, biking is not a call, not for sport, not for exercise even. It is purely the more convenient alternative to get from point A to B. As it is for quite a few people here. I know very little about bikes and the drag coefficient of lycra. I like bikes, particularly fond of heavy Dutch models, but to be honest I have never cared much for fixing them or customizing them (perhaps a cup holder,…I have to get one for my morning coffee). So, say for instance if biking in Madrid was really the most convenient, would more people not use bikes? I am not familiar with the numbers, and I have not visited Madrid, but from Barcelona (which I know is a completely different city) I saw very little in terms of actual transport on bikes. Scooters, sure, but bikes? Not so much…

I would say that for you biking is more than a useful means of getting from point A to B as you seem so interested in the fraction of people cycling. I really couldn’t care less how many people cycle in Madrid as long as I can do it in a practical manner, for the kind of distance I have to do that means to do it fast, and safely, as of today I am doing just that, and you might like to know that, as the physicist Richard Feynman used to say, what one fool can do another one can do better.

Sure, it´s more than than. I am just arguing that most people are rational in many respects, choosing wisely how they spend their time. Thus, if biking is the easiest way to get from A to B, then more people would be interested in biking. The argument laid forth in the above discussion is (also) about whether bike lanes are a good idea. My claim is that they are, because they get people to use the bike more. I CARE about that because that means they won´t use their CARS. So those numbers actually matter!

Currently, bike usage for commuting is a little below 40% everyday in CPH, due to a lot of different reasons (car tax, parking regulations etc etc.) – bike lanes and generally a good biking infrastructure, I would argue, SEEMS to be one of the reasons that biking is quite popular HERE for all age groups.

Although Txarli obviusly claims otherwise…

Is your claim that bike lanes are a good idea because they get people to use the bike more? or because they make biking the easiest way to get from A o B? from my experience they make it more difficult to get from point A to B, so if it is true that they make people to bike more it is not because it makes life easier for them so I doubt in such a case that cycling would be the substitute to better transportation alternatives, maybe a substitute to walking because if they do it at the same speed as walking they do have the advantage of spending less energy (but no time advantage).

Hey! When are you going to do a post about how the Americans never really went to the moon (I’m sure you have ‘theories’ about how it was filmed in a studio in Nevada) or how the World Trade Center was a Jewish conspiracy? Looking forward to them!

“When are you going to do a post about how the Americans never really went to the moon”

You know, in the middle of such stale repetitive bikelaneist idiocy as I am obliged to read and listen to, it is kinda refreshing to read now and then new flavours of idiocy such as the one you wrote in your comment.

Thank you.

BTW: thank you for your patience, Mr singsign, and sorry about the awful delay answering your last comment. I’ve had a tremendous amount of genuinely spanish bikelaneist stupidity to deal with lately. But I promise I will be back to you as time permits, with the replay you deserve.

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