Trapped inside the box — Time for a new Paradigm

Paradigm was a popular buzzword a few years ago. Here’s a bit of the definition from Merriam-Webster.
broadly : a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind

The dominant paradigm in cycling holds that cyclists are inferior users of the roads, obligated to stay out of the way of more important users, who drive cars.

Wikipedia says:
A simplified analogy for paradigm is a habit of reasoning or, the box in the commonly used phrase “thinking outside the box”.

One might think that “bicycle advocates” would fight this paradigm since it makes cycling unattractive and less safe. Instead, they embrace it, welcoming indeed demanding segregated facilities that banish cyclists to the gutter. Not only do they demand facilities, most of these advocates resist any attempt to apply safety standards to the facilities. They seem to believe it is better to have many such facilities even if they have serious safety standards than to have insist that any such facilities must be safe places to ride.

The photo [1] shows a bike lane that applies the “Squeeze” to anyone riding there as it tapers to nearly nothing as it pases driveways and approaches an intersection ahead

[1] Photo by Bob Bayn, Newburg OR

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3 Responses to Trapped inside the box — Time for a new Paradigm

  1. MikeOnBike says:

    Is it too much to ask for a “bike lane ends, merge left” sign?

    Preference for sub-standard, non-standard, or no-standard facilities seems to depend on where you’re coming from. If you had been riding in the gutter of a narrow lane, then even the shrinking bike lane in the photo is an improvement.

    The default preference seems to be “the farther away from motor vehicles, the better”. And since motor vehicles are large, loud, fast, and generally unpleasant to be near, that preference is understandable. (You don’t see much al fresco dining along arterials.)

    But it’s baffling that we often do such a poor job of implementing that preference.

  2. Fred says:

    Hi Mike,

    Better a “merge left” than just a “bike lane ends” which implies that you should just turn around and go back.

    As for the default preference, that is not the preference of knowledgeable cyclists who ride assertively to deter motorist mistakes. For more info., see “Why Cyclists Should Stay Out of the Gutter”.

  3. MikeOnBike says:

    I didn’t mean it was my preference. I just meant it was odd that our society assumes cyclists prefer to be far away from cars, then builds such crummy implementations of that assumption.

    And then our society often makes it mandatory for cyclists to use those facilities. You’d think they’d assume cyclists would automatically prefer them without having to be coerced.

    And it shows how little power the facilities advocates actually have, willingly accepting any symbolic junk without caring if it’s usable.

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