Friday, April 30, 2010

Ah, That Forester!

The "father of vehicular cycling", John Forester, born 1929, is getting up there. Nonetheless, it would seem he has lost none of his ability to move people. I bike T.O. , a Toronto based cycling blog that I read often, has had a couple of posts about John Forester and Vehicular Cycling lately. For those of you who have been living and breathing the tenets of John Forester for decades, it may seem quite bizarre that these articles make VC/JF seem like something "new". The fact is, however, that for most recreational cyclists and the encouraging numbers of transportational cyclists taking to the road lately, he is. For a great many people, John Forester's ideas and the Vehicular cycling concept are still some pretty crazy talk, especially now that bike lanes and cycletracks and sharrows and such are becoming the most popular answers to cycling woes.

People sure do get passionate about this stuff, and John Forester has become a rather polarizing figure who people either love or love to hate. The first piece I noticed set the table for a critical analysis of VC stuff and the second piece started in with gusto. Of course there are plenty of people ready to blast those critics right back. Most of the comments, while heavily biased, have been pretty polite so far. I do wish, however, that people who ride bikes would try a little harder to ride and let ride... everybody has a right to their own opinion, so please go for a bike ride and settle your nerves before you type. Warring factions within an already tiny army begin to look kind of ridiculous after a while.

The people I like reading best in such matters are those that don't deal in absolutes and show some flexibility in how they think and open minds to how others might think. Treating others as you would like to be treated in print as well as on the road is an important first step. That sounds suspiciously like Civility to me. I like that word. It sums everything up pretty nicely.

Your Civil Servant,



Rollz said...

What army? I just ride a bike to work and try to obey the laws of the road. I don't need to belong to an army to do that do I. How come none of you ever asked me to join? or is it like everything else I get picked last. You guys get rollz....(aghh make him drive a car we don't want him)

Steve A said...

I need to think about this one a while, but HOORAY for a civil discussion!

jeff said...

Totally agree with the need for an open mind and civility, in this and all things. Too many lose sight of the fact that there are seldom truly black and white issues. There's a lot of gray.

RANTWICK said...

Rollz - You've got the right idea. You would have to ask a general, but this army doesn't want the likes of you.

Steve - Please don't think much... there's altogether too much of that going on.

Jeff - Thanks, man.

Steve A said...

Not to think TOO much about this, I'll repeat what I have said before. Vehicular Cycling is NOT a basis for cycling advocacy any more than it would be for motoring advocacy. VC is a method of operating a bike. Mostly, it's pretty sensible.

As for Forester, I'll simply quote someone who shall remain nameless: "He couldn't sell nooky on a troop train!" One must separate the man from the message. Read John Allen for a much different approach, while using the same operating basis.

RANTWICK said...

Steve - Thank you. I was kind of hoping you would remind me of the 'nooky' comment... plus your main comment about VC being about operating a bike is dead centre.

Doohickie said...

he has lost none of his ability to move people.

My opinion is that I am grateful to him for bringing up the subject of VC but hate him and his minions in their inflexible approach to it. He posts over at occasionally and he is one obstinate dude. I think he is so far off the deep end that he harms the movement he seeks to promote. Steve A puts it more aptly and less confrontationally that I did I suppose.

I will also say this: the president of the local cycling club likes to say that VC is but one tool available to cyclists who want to ride from point A to point B. There are lots of other tools that complement that one, including the infrastructure that VCers tend to loathe (and at times I can see their point). But just because I like to think I'm beyond bike lanes and sidepaths doesn't mean they shouldn't be there for other people and.... sometimes I use 'em too. Nothin' wrong with that.

No, bike infrastructure is not the universal answer. Neither is VC. But they both contribute to more ridership and therefore they are both good things to have in your back pocket.

You guys get rollz....(aghh make him drive a car we don't want him)

I actually laughed out loud at that! :D


RANTWICK said...

Doohickie - You just demonstrated precisely what I like: someone smart enough to know there's no one answer, but many. I always knew my readers were the smartest around.

GreenComotion said...

I like your words, "Treating others as you would like to be treated in print as well as on the road is an important first step".

There is more than one solution to many problems. Not all solutions are equally elegant but so what?

Peace :)

cafiend said...

Balance works among the balanced. It's certainly a good thing to promote. It pisses off passionately narrow-minded proponents of inflexible points of view, but what can you do? Evolve and let evolve.

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