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The case for building bike paths to nowhere

Build it, and they will come—or, more precisely, build infrastructure and development follows. We know that truth to be axiomatic, when thinking about roads. Widen a road, and viola: subdivisions spring up along it, and the road needs widening yet again. Run a freeway somewhere out the back of Fort Worth, and watch the farmlands fill up with houses.

So why are bicycling advocates so obsessed with linking up neighbourhoods that already exist? I mean, why bother! The people living there seem happy enough with how things already are, with the car dependence, and drive-through cake shops, and all of that car stuff. I don't see mass rallies, anywhere in the world, for more bike paths. It's only people like me, or you reading this bike blog, who really care about bike paths.

It would be better, I think, to build bike paths to nowhere. Then developers can look at the barren land flanking those bike paths to nowhere, and say, "You know, we could build places for cyclists out here." And that's how those places, I hope, would remain, accessible only by bike path. And who would want to live there? Well, queers like myself, who prefer cycling. And what of the people in established parts of town, who we have done nothing to save, by lobbying for them to have bike paths? Let them eat cake. 

Another piece of fine lateral thinking from Dr. Behooving. (Oh, and before I'm hounded about bikes having less reach than cars, the no-where type places to which I refer, are brownfields within city boundaries).


Vicki Coughlan
Oct. 12th, 2011 12:38 am (UTC)
Hi Steven, Interesting that house prices rise when a nearby bike track is built. It makes sense too, there is every reason to want to live near a bike track but no reason to want to live near a large highway with all its noise and pollution. Good to catch up with you yesterday.
Oct. 12th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
yes indeed, that's a good point about noise. You will note how I used last night's meeting to get some feedback and extra thoughts regarding my thesis :)
Great to see you as well!
Oct. 12th, 2011 03:09 am (UTC)
There's strong demand for more road space for cars just about everywhere, so your freeway out the back of Fort Worth will have no trouble generating the houses and other associated crap alongside it.

And there's strong demand for more road space for bikes, but that demand isn't everywhere - it's concentrated in your inner-ring piety belt. That's where the cyclists, and more importantly, those who WANT to ride but require that extra little bit of subjective safety that cycleways provide, live and work. The demand is there - they even had a mass rally to protest Alan Jones getting himself involved in the anti-cycleway campaign.

So it makes sense to build cycleways there, but not out in the auto-dominated suburbs. As for yet-to-be-developed brownfields, sure it's a good idea to get in early and stake some claims for space for cyclists. Why not? But even if you managed to get those cycleways linking brownfields to be built I'm not sure it'd be enough to attract cyclists away from what they already have. They've congregated elsewhere, their numbers are booming, and their political voice is being heard. They're already starting to win, so why would they move to an untried "solution" that scatters them all over the map?

It sounds like you think that we (cyclists) are involved in a misguided project of lobbying for them (auto-dominated proles) to have cycleways, and that we should forget about "them" and focus on ourselves

I see it differently - we (cyclists and friends) are lobbying for cycleways for ourselves (cyclists and friends) in the exact areas where we (cyclists and friends) tend to live. Meanwhile "them" (auto-dominated proles) watch Channel 7 and read the Tele and think that Clover is a witch and that all cyclists should be run over. So in one sense I agree with you - we should let "them" eat cake. But that's all we've ever done. They can join us if they want. It's up to them.

(Apologies for the totally Sydney-centric nature of this post. Newcastle is surely a different beast.)
Oct. 12th, 2011 03:37 am (UTC)
That's a great comment. Thanks for taking the time. I can't fault your logic either. I wonder in Sydney, if any people wanting to ride more have gone to live near Olympic park? I wonder too, if there are any opportunities to built rail trails, or waterfront bike paths, 5-15km away from the city center in Sydney? There could be brownfield sites flanking those potential new bike paths, suitable for bicycle oriented development. I'm trying to think of affordable housing alternatives for people who would rather a walk-up unit and a bike ride, than a brick-venereal, and a long drive.
The question marks you've placed over the question of demand, suggest the conversion of brownfields to bikefields should proceed in a piecemeal fashion, as it has been in US cycling cities.

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