Mouth breathers and bicycle lanes: “From congestion to cost, there are many entirely misguided arguments in circulation.”


It would be nice if we had a newspaper.

It would be nice if we had a newspaper willing to ask questions of public officials.

It would be nice if we had a newspaper willing to ask questions of public officials, as whenever Jeff Gahan assumes full credit for a new miracle, the reporter asks: and what exactly are you doing to connect these various miracles by some form of mobility that isn’t another automobile?

But we don’t have a newspaper, and this isn’t nice at all, because it means that Gahan and his car-centric ilk continue to utilize the ol’ bait ‘n’ switch, pretending that infrastructure projects are about mobility options, when they’re typically no more than another driver pacification scheme.

We don’t have a newspaper. It really sucks.

Ten common myths about bike lanes – and why they’re wrong, by Peter Walker (The Guardian)

From congestion to cost, there are many entirely misguided arguments in circulation

Cycle lanes have been in the news recently, as have the many often entirely misguided arguments that opponents use against them.

For all the (slight) progress in some UK cities over mass cycling, we are still at a stage where a leaflet from a local branch of the party of government (see below) will state falsehoods about bike lanes as if they were the undoubted truth.

So perhaps it’s time to demolish 10 of the most common myths about cycle infrastructure. Do by all means suggest more in the comments below.

1. Cycle lanes increase congestion (and thus pollution)

This is perhaps the most common myth, possibly because critics confuse what feels like it’s true with what actually is true: the assumption that if you take some road space from motor vehicles, you get more traffic jams – as with (a commonly used parallel) forcing water down a smaller pipe.

But fluid and traffic are not the same thing, as shown by 60 years of governments trying and failing to road-build their way out of congestion. The idea of induced demand – more road space brings more cars – has been known for decades, and it also works in reverse. This is especially so with bike lanes, which are such an efficient use of the same space that they can often mean the same amount of space carrying more people overall.

Yes, traffic jams have worsened in some cities where bike lanes have been built, but studies show this is largely down to other factors, for example the growth in the number of Uber-type private hire vehicles and Amazon delivery vans.

Most compelling of all, of course, is the fact that motor vehicles cause the congestion in the first place, and the only real way to reduce traffic congestion is to have fewer of them on the roads.


10. There’s no need

This is, in effect, the message of the critics: not this, not now – let’s try to get away with unambitious schemes without proper infrastructure, which will never change much.

You could write a whole column – even a book – about why this is absurd, but it’s always worth stressing this point to the cycling naysayers: OK, what’s your solution to gridlock, pollution, a climate emergency; to cities that are noisy, dangerous and unjust? They will not respond, because there is no answer.