When Peter Furth returned from a sabbatical in the Netherlands inspired to make his home country as bike-friendly, he knew he’d encounter bicycle skeptics. What surprised him was the resistance he got from bicycle supporters.
Furth , a professor at Northeastern University and an OTREC visiting scholar, shared some of his research on low-stress bicycle networks in a talk May 4 at Portland State University. Click here for more information.
Even in recent years, bicycling advocacy organizations were dominated by followers John Forester’s concept of “vehicular cycling,” Furth said, and opposed to separated bicycle facilities. Cyclists should use the road, and be treated, like any other vehicle operators, according to this reasoning.
“People get an idea of what utopia is,” Furth said, “and their idea is just bikes operating like any other vehicle. The crazy thing is, it’s an experiment that has been lived out every day for the last 50 years. You can go out and do it today. It just doesn’t work. It’s just nutty.”
European cities have carried out their own massive experiment for decades as well, Furth said. “Millions of people every day are riding on separated facilities, and what is the outcome? Huge numbers of people riding: children, old people, men and women in equal numbers, and the bike fatality rate is 10 times lower than ours.”