Comment 34773

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted October 14, 2009 at 12:18:40

Ryan, I'm not worried at all about the revenue lost by fewer driver's licenses at all, I'm worried about an unregulated system of road-sharing in a city that, as A Smith pointed out quite rightly, is NOT a cyclers city, and it likely will not become one in our lifetime. There will almost certainly still be MANY MANY cars on Hamilton's roads into the near-future, and the structuralist solutions you propose will only get us so far--there needs to be some transitory socio-cultural movement to get people on to the roads.

Hamilton is barely comparable with Copenhagen, and given the differences in core density (Cop: 5,908/km2, Ham: 451.6/km2) its verging on ridiculous to assume that the same structural magic bullets that have worked there can be applied here. Unless there's some massive redistribution of living patterns in this city, people will still need to use cars. Further, unless there's some massive influx of cash to the city, it's unrealistic to assume that Hamilton will spend anywhere near the amount that Copenhagen does on biking infrastructure.

Which is to say, Ryan, that I understand your arguments about "everything we know about increasing cycling rates," but that I'm saying (again) that that's wonderful, but not necessarily applicable to this context.

But you're right, we don't need licensing to get children to bike safely, but it might be a good way to teach future non-drivers the rules of the road while simultaneously legitimizing a currently (and A Smith is right again) fringe transportation method. No matter how many cyclists huddle together on RTH extolling the virtues of cycling, it won't change the fact that you are a very small minority.

And if, as frank says, this is about getting people out of their cars, then, very obviously, this isn't really about YOU cyclists at all. This is about drivers and what makes them comfortable in leaving their vehicles and getting on a bike. As I pointed out in an earlier post, a significant number of Ontarians cite safety concerns as a barrier to getting on a bike, and I suggest that there needs to be some cultural component to convincing people that its safe to get on a bike and share the road with cars. Given Canadians' rather pronounced deference to authority, I believe that a soft-licensing program would build the necessary legitimacy and confidence among drivers to a) view cyclists as equal sharers of the road, and b) as a result of a, consider cycling safe enough to venture a try at it themselves.

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