(Almost) Global formula for dealing with cyclists

I recently stumbled across this video about cycling in Berlin, but it kind of sums up all my frustrations about cycling in Brisbane, and how the authorities treat cycling:

It seems the global formula for councils (with a few notable exceptions in Northern Europe) for dealing with cyclists is this:

Step 1. Write and continually re-write your cycling plan, filled with fantasy aspirational weasel words that commit to nothing.  You must develop this from the ground up, as your council municipality is unique.  Whatever you do, do not simply adopt world's best practice (Netherlands) planning, otherwise this planning roundabout will stop, you will have the immediate answer, and you will be forced to deliver something.

Step 2. After you've already decided what you're (not) going to do, continually run surveys and community engagement programs to stall, waste money and distract people from reality of no action on earlier plans.  Avoid any reference to Netherlands but if you must, simply find all the reasons why this won't work, based on perceived impact to motorists.

Step 3. Promise/Announce a big budget at the start of every election cycle, then do everything you can to spend the money on non-cycling or useless/ineffective infrastructure.  Specific applied examples:

            3.1 Projects with limited cycling spend - BCC announced $1M for cycling infrastructure on Sylvan Rd, then spend $990k resurfacing the road for motorists, and $10k on 3 strips of useless green paint.

            3.2 Ineffective infrastructure - In Akuna St, Kenmore, they recently spent approx. $2M from the designated cycling budget on a shared path parallel to the street.  I haven't seen a bike on it yet, only lots of pedestrians.  Its a nice footpath, which the street didn't previously have, but its useless to cyclists.  A much better solution would have been to drop the speed limit to 30 and drop in a few bollards to keep all but the local traffic away.  Filtered permeability, and reduced speed zones make local streets able to be shared safely.  The new shared path is not bad per se, its just too costly, and unfeasible to do that everywhere, when simple and effective solutions are readily available and quick to implement.  The path also doesn't go where cyclists want to go.  The path is about the same length as "Rhubarb Way" which would provide a safe, alternate route to Moggill Rd.  In my area, this is where the money needed to be spent.

Step 4. Hide your tracks of inaction, by fudging figures and continually quoting meaningless and distorted facts.  Eg continually quote $120M over 4 years, 1300kms of bike paths etc etc.  When in reality only a small portion of the money actually got spent on meaningful infrastructure or delivered tangible outcomes for cycling.  Quote absolute dollar figures (eg $120M) since it sounds so much bigger than if you quote the percentage of transport budget.  Especially be careful of this if you accidentally quoted some aspirationally high cycling targets in the near future (like 5% within 20 years....), but you only allocate 1% of your transport budget.  Of course, even with a small percentage, you should look to diminish this via Step 3 above.  Create some "headlining" projects to appease the noisy ones, and use eye catching bright green paint to "prove" you are doing things, but be careful to ensure it is not connected and thus not used by cyclists.  This way, motorists (voters) will see this "waste" of money and will back you against the cyclists in the next election.  BCC is a master at using cycle money to fund broader projects, re-defining paint as infrastructure, quoting the $120M over 4 years, and then creating a system of double and triple counting paint stencils as effective infrastructure.  You'll note the exact opposite approach is taken on our tunnel "investments" in recent years, where govts never quote the total long term spend, only that "useage is up by x% this month" which proves its an outrageous success.

Step 5. Send in the cops, disguised as "one of them", on the guise of protecting them, then just target them for minor and largely irrelevant misdemeanours, whilst ignoring the serious offences that actually risk cyclists lives.  When did you last see a velocop on Sylvan Rd or Annerley Rd or Kedron Brook Rd or Wynnum Rd or Sandgate Rd etc ?  This is where cyclists are being killed but the velocops are too busy nailing cyclists along Bicentennial or Bot Gardens or Southbank for helmets and bells etc.

Step 6. If the cycling community eventually has the audacity to complain about how often they lose loved ones underneath close passing trucks, then to may be forced to recognise manslaughter via a vehicle as a crime.  If this happens, use the opportunity to couple the concession of minimum safe passing legislation with a range of other increased penalties for cyclists (many of which are hotly debated as whether they should even be unlawful in the first place).  NSW mandatory ID and 500% increases in fines for cyclists are the latest example of this.  Despite coupling the pro and anti cycling rules through legislation, the enforcement under step 5 must be carried out in a minimum ratio of 10 to 1 in favour of the anti-cycling rules.

Disclaimer - I have honestly typed this formula out, based on my observations over the last few years.  Any striking resemblance to the bona fide secret formula shared amongst global councils and govt authorities, is purely coincidental, but I acknowledge you are the original authors and creators of the material in this case.

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    DavidC

    Thanks, excellent video and summary ! 

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      Paul Martin

      I wish it weren't the case, but you nailed it, Rhubarb. It's been like this for decades and I suspect it will remain so for decades in this country.

      The only thing that will force change is an outside force that politicians cannot control - people then will cycle in spite of conditions. But by then, modifying our road layouts and reallocating space equitably (not, equally...) will be too costly. 

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        David

        Well said Rhubarb.

        We all know it's true. We "get" riding bicycles is a legitimate means of transport to be included in all infrastructure planning, new and re-newing. We get it that's it's good for the individual and the wider population. We get it's good for the environment in so many ways.

        What I don't get is how planners, politicians and decision makers don't get it or don't act on it. This is like a recurring bad dream. Wheelchair access is a given in building design. Why isn't cycle infrastructure a given in transport design?

        • How many more injuries and deaths and near misses does it take?
        • How much money spent unnecessarily in the upcoming years on health and environment does it take before change is made?
        • For how long will Australia and its states languish behind the rest of the world in basic cycle infrastructure?

        ... *sigh*