Traffic engineers are not cyclists

Born Again Cycles recycles bicycles in Melbourne, Australia. BAC blogger Mark Horner rants about a topic that might resonate with many of us, that the people who design our streets are not cyclists.

The problem is that those who research, design and implement solutions for the vulnerability of cyclists within increasingly frenetic ordinary road situations are not themselves cyclists. If they are, their voices are drowned out by those of their colleagues who see road transport as legitimately being of the motorised variety. So instead of a “different but equal” approach to constructing specific road surfaces for bikes, or making spaces that acknowledge bikes are actually going to be in there with the rest of the vehicles, it is a view of “odd, difficult but vociferous (so we’d better do something just to shut them up)”, the “something” often approaching -token/barely adequate (under sufferance)’ in its ability to address the problems that cyclists encounter in what road planners are touting as -normal’ traffic conditions.

There’s much more in Mark’s post, but the gist is that, as cyclists, we really wonder what went through the engineers’ heads when we cycle on the facilities they design.

These issues highlight the importance of early involvement by bicyclists in planning decisions. It’s a pain in the neck to follow all of the agendas for the various government agencies in your community, but it’s best to get changes done before they build the road or bridge or new parking garage.

In my experience, traffic engineers in some parts of the United States are getting a little bit better at these sorts of things as they get feedback from cyclists and as engineering documents become more cycling inclusive.

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