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His comments are reasonable. I agree with him that the best thing that could be done for Washington would be to add freeways.

Freeway access into and out of Washington is horrible, especially going to Maryland. If cars had their own spaces, the urban grid could be freed for pedestrian/bicycle use.

Also, I think a congestion charge like London would be a good idea. Not only would it raise revenue but it would discourage single-car commuting.

soooo...whats the problem? Finally some relevant insight on WashCycle...

He's not anti-bike. He's a researcher making predictions of what might happen on the basis of the way things are.

I know a sociologist who's writing a book on the bicycle: his thesis is that bike advocacy groups have done little, if anything, to foster cycling. He charts how the improvements such as they are for bikes would have come about regardless of bike advocacy per WABA, et al..

Now, he laments all this. But the USA is simply so backward, and so *structurally* impenetrable to meaningful social change of any kind, that the bicycle simply wont figure for at least another 25 years -- unless gas jumps to 11 gallon TOMORROW. (and it wont because of the *structures* in place that would prevent that...)

MOVE TO EUROPE if you want a higher quality of life, dont want a car, and like bicycles...

Anti-bike wasn't, perhaps, the right word. I merely meant he was used as the press' "on the other hand" guy.

As for more highways, exactly where would you place these additional lanes? Technically he's right. But if such a city were possible, would you want to live in a place where everyone could drive where ever they wanted without congestion - think about how much pavement we're talking about?

Cost-effectiveness is a good thing, but it's not the only thing. I'd hate to imagine what a cost-effective U.S. Capitol building would look like.

As for moving to Europe...No. That's not the point of this blog. This blog is not defeatist bellyaching (though it may sound that way sometimes). It's about making a real - if small - difference. We can have a city we want right here in the United States. Don't give up on D.C. yet.

O'toole makes some valid points, to be sure (especially about "traffic calming"...Arlington did this by pinching every intersection to the point that turning cars, in an effort to clear the corner, enter the path of oncoming cars...and cyclists. Not to mention, cyclists can't easily ride between cars and the curb at these pinched spots...but I digress).

But one thing that's absent is the fact that if there is no bike advocacy, no high-profile cycling organizations (e.g., WABA), no people out riding the streets, no reasonable discourse nor impassioned pleas, i.e., no attempts made to tip the balance toward cycling as a valid transportation mode, you can be damn sure that what little we've gained will quickly disappear. This "abandon the fight, it's hopeless" talk is always the angle those in opposition use to quell resistance...sometimes they're right, but that doesn't mean it's not a battle worth fighting, especially when the outcome isn't set in stone. Peak oil and global warming are the wild cards in this game, and they just may force a hand or two before it's all said and done.

On the topic of cost-effective measures and rail transit, well, rail transit would become a helluva lot more cost-effective if it were the only game in town. But new freeways will make the death of rail transit a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Also, cost-effectiveness is only one way of measuring success; another might be a reduction in CO2 emissions, for example...are we willing to pay a premium for cleaner air and a more liveable environment? Countless hybrid vehicle drivers and owners of "green" homes are saying yes.

Mike, there's often a big difference between an interesting thesis statement and reality. Especially when it can be neither proven nor disproven (i.e., a "what if" statement applied to the past), but merely speculated about, as is the case here. Interesting, yes, perhaps, but I'm not buying it.

"On average, urban freeways make up about 2 percent of urban street networks and carry 35 percent of urban traffic. Without those freeways, we would have lots more traffic on the streets."

He's assuming that all of those cars would be on local streets. How many of those motorists would live closer to work or use another mode of transportation were there NOT a freeway present? Apparently he isn't aware of the concept of induced demand.

It was written that:

But one thing that's absent is the fact that if there is no bike advocacy, no high-profile cycling organizations (e.g., WABA), no people out riding the streets, no reasonable discourse nor impassioned pleas, i.e., no attempts made to tip the balance toward cycling as a valid transportation mode, you can be damn sure that what little we've gained will quickly disappear. This "abandon the fight, it's hopeless" talk is always the angle those in opposition use to quell resistance...sometimes they're right, but that doesn't mean it's not a battle worth fighting, especially when the outcome isn't set in stone. Peak oil and global warming are the wild cards in this game, and they just may force a hand or two before it's all said and done.

Well...who says it's "defeatist" talk? Im not, and the writer criticized is not, "the opposition'!! The issue is: How long do you wait for how much and what kind of, change? No one seems to address this issue: it has to do with quantifying the struggle (contextually, and with the possibility of revision, of course.) Sometimes it is worth the fight even if youre ship is certainly going down...

AS for tipping the blance and the need of advocacy organizations..well, thats an interesting claim made here: how would you test it? Common sense (eg., the
"gain[s]will quickly disappear...") doesnt impress on this front. Helmets are supposed to save lives, too, if you recall. In either case, WHERE IS THE DATA??...

"How long do you wait for how much and what kind of, change?"

Good question. Here's the standard I use - the D.C. Bicycle plan. DC government decided, and WABA signed off on, a plan to improve and encourage cycling in the area. It calls for specific changes over a specific time. That is how long you wait and what kind you look for. DC, BTW, is way behind on their plan.

How to measure the value of advocacy? I'm not sure. But I do know that advocacy works. For proof, look at the CCT it was saved by local advocates, the tunnel opened by activists, the bridge over River Road built after WABA pushed for it and the section under repair now being saved because someone in the Palisades neighborhood dragged DDOT and the NPS out to look at it. Would all of this happened without advocacy? I doubt it. Were the gains worth the opportunity costs? You'll have to ask those advocates.

"Defeatest" was your word, so I guess you're calling it defeatest talk.

Never said O'Toole in particular was the opposition; just mentioned that his theme was a favorite tactic of the power majority.

"How long do you wait for how much and what kind of, change?" Before doing what?...abandoning everything if it doesn't seem to measure up? I quantify the struggle by the number of bikes I see around me daily and by the increased presence of the bicycle in everyday culture. Not very empirical or scientific, I grant you, but then, I'm not a scientist.

"Sometimes it is worth the fight even if youre ship is certainly going down..." Yeah, that was my point.

"AS for tipping the blance and the need of advocacy organizations..well, thats an interesting claim made here: how would you test it? Common sense doesnt impress on this front. Helmets are supposed to save lives, too, if you recall. In either case, WHERE IS THE DATA??..." No data necessary; the loss of cyclists' rights and privileges in the sudden absence of advocacy groups et alia is axiomatic. Sorry you're not impressed--then again, that wasn't my intent. Things aren't the way they are by accident or random occurrence. And by the same token, where is the counter-data?


But I am with you on the helmet thing.


Washcycle:

As for more highways, exactly where would you place these additional lanes?


If the highways were paid by tolls or other user fees, then why not build underground tunnels, like 395? Washington would be a perfect city to experiment with networks of underground freeways.

A network that connects I-66 with US-50 and I-395 underground would move a huge amount of traffic off the streets.

Charlie D:
Apparently he isn't aware of the concept of induced demand.

I think the point of a new highway would be to induce demand - thinking about it any other way is the backwards central planning that he was castigating.

After all, I'm sure it would be easy to build bicycle facilities in country towns in the middle of nowhere - but no one is advocating for that. People want to have transportation in the thick of things. Such transportation assets are going to subsidize more business activities, which will in turn build the economy.

Another model would be to build private highways - the government will never cede the power required to build those.

I suspect underground highways will blow away the cost-effectiveness of additional lanes - especially since you'll have to spaghetti string them around metro tunnels.

And building something like this

http://tinyurl.com/2k33dx

underground, in a post 9/11 world...I do not envy the guy who has to do that paperwork.

Interestingly, the TR Bridge was also designed as a tunnel. It would have cost the same, but they decided commuters would rather have a view. That was how I heard the story at least.

As to the underground highways please review the literature on the Big Dig in Boston.

As for the Portland comments, it's hard to reconcile those with articles like this: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/05/us/05bike.html?em&ex=1194584400&en=54ac9b1e64618405&ei=5087%0A

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