Why Don’t Americans Have Bike Barriers?

Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane

They’ve been proven to save lives in countries such as the Netherlands and Canada, so why their absence in the US? Architectural historian Steven Fleming argues that macho bike culture deserves some of the blame:

A sad irony in the history of bicycle transport is that keen cyclists aided and abetted motoring lobbyists, who wanted the whole road for cars.

Bike store owner John Forester was a keen “vehicular cyclist.” He could keep pace with cars, assert his right to a lane, and gracefully somersault onto the grass if ever a driver looked but didn’t see him. He published these tips in his 1976 book Effective Cycling, with some good intentions, but also a hint of male pride. By the way he opposed the Dutch-modeled cycle tracks he feared would spread to the US, you could be forgiven for thinking his secret fear was being made to ride beside women and children.

Authorities throughout the Anglosphere nations where Forester’s book was read most were happy to listen to a male voice of cycling. There was no way though that Forester’s ideas were going to have sway with the Dutch. Too many Dutch mothers were already active in the Stop the Child Murder rallies that began in 1973 after 450 children were killed on their bikes in one year. The Netherlands was developing feminine and juvenile bike infrastructure that did not exclude men. Australia [and] the U.S. did the opposite.

(Photo of a separated bike lane in Vancouver by Paul Krueger)