The Bike Wars -- segment on HBO "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel"
The latest edition of the HBO show "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," has a segment called "The Bike Wars." It discusses the conflicts between bicyclists and motor vehicle operators in the US and then does brief segments in Copenhagen, Denmark and Amsterdam, Netherlands, where in those places, a majority of trips are accomplished by bike, complemented by walking and public transit.
An extra online clip with Megan Hochman covers more ground, including how she holds classes for law enforcement officers on cycling and the law.
The story doesn't say much that's new to people involved in the issue, but it's well articulated and should resonate with people who aren't familiar with the intricacies of the argument. The images are nice.
In terms of relating the European "cities" to the US experience, they missed the key point about the difference in opportunity between cities and suburbs in opportunity to capture bike trips. The greatest opportunities to capture trips by bikes are in the cities, but most people in the US live in suburbs--despite the recent bump upward in city populations.
Plus, they didn't discuss infrastructure much in terms of the US context. That the US is not city-centric the same way that Europe is makes a big difference in terms of infrastructure.
Nor did the mention at all the fact that gasoline prices, parking prices, excise taxes on cars, the cost of getting a driver's license, etc., are all much higher in Europe, compared to the US. This affects the willingness to bike also.
They ended the segment making the point that 1/3 of commuting trips are no more than 5 miles in length. They also didn't discuss the difference between recreational cycling and racing and biking as transportation, and how this has shaped attitudes on "both sides."
I'd like to see a follow up segment on the Idaho Stop. It's a shame they didn't do a bunch of additional online segments.
"Why would you ever ride a bike when you have a perfectly good car?" -- Megan Hochman, formerly a cycle racer, now a lawyer representing cyclists
"Why should I have to share the road with you?" -- Megan Hochman, on the attitudes of motor vehicle operators
-- 20% increase in deaths of cyclists in the US over the past 3 years
-- in 47 states, killing a cyclist is a misdemeanor offense
-- 50% commuting by bike
-- fully protected bike lanes with dedicated signals
-- dedicated long distance
-- cyclists stop at lights
What's special in the US is the failure to understand that the mobility network has been constructed to favor and privilege the automobile. As long as that doesn't change, the conflict between motor vehicle operators and sustainable modes--walking, biking, and public transit--will not abate.
The difference between Denmark and the Netherlands is that those countries made the decision 40-50 years ago to re-articulate the mobility network to privilege sustainable mobility ("The Dutch ThinkBike project in DC").
-- 60% of people use bikes for trips every day
-- so many people bike there isn't enough parking
-- adding 40,000 legal
"Perhaps, fittingly, the question for biking is one of 'balance.'"
Minneapolis only US city ranked in top 20 bike cities in the world