Comment 34749

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted October 13, 2009 at 10:47:37

I don't know if it's just that this thread is being commented on disproportionately by cyclists, but I'm curious as to why is there so much antipathy towards an idea that hasn't even been fleshed out yet. A bicycle licensing regime need not be any of the things that commentators here have disparaged: costly to individuals; an intrusion by the government; or revenge against cyclists. While Dreschel's logic and writing might not be impeccable, he highlights an important issue and potential emerging problem, namely that road-use education is not what it should be, for cyclists or drivers.

If we're to buy into progressive plans to curtail carbon emissions and build a more sustainable city, people are (necessarily) going to have to ditch their cars over time. What this means is that the primary source of road-use education, the car-licensing process, will not be anything approaching universal. Unless everyone moves to transit and leaves the roads to licensed professionals, there will still need to be a comprehensive road-safety program so that people "speak the same language" when they share the road.

A licensing program that amounts to some road-safety education in early-primary school (around the time kids start riding bikes), and evolves into a bike-registration system is not some fascist scheme meant to exact revenge on cyclists and exclude the poor from civic life. And it would not spark some "culture war" meant to create a rift between cyclists and drivers: I'd suggest, judging by Dreschel's column and the reactions by cycling chauvinists on this board, that is already in full-swing since no one seems willing to listen to the ideas of the other side.

Dreschel is right when he says that Hamilton isn't Amsterdam, and we can't ignore that given our specific context, there is going to be a cultural element involved in creating safe shared roadways. The structuralist reductionism that equates building infrastructure with happy and safe cycling is overly simplistic, and there's nothing unreasonable about the idea that if you're going to use a road, no matter what vehicle you choose, you need to understand how you and others use it properly.

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