Thursday, 4 December 2014

Group Think

We have economic, health, climate, energy and environmental issues and need solutions that will help us work very quickly to a carbon negative, more equal society before we go into climate or 3rd world resource war meltdown and the inevitable human race extinction that will follow. The maths of exponential growth and change, mean things are going to change dramatically.  The only thing we can choose is in which direction things go dramatically.

Often people tell me that technology will solve these problems but there are sustainable solutions out there and cycling is one of the blatantly obvious ones.  It is a proven technology that has many lifestyle, health, time, space, cost, equality, efficiency and environmental benefits. It is a golden bullet that is also fun. All we have to do is facilitate it using tried and tested established real world models and professional published public domain knowledge.

Unfortunately there seams to be some kind of human Group Think dynamics which leave us helpless and paralysed in the business as usual model. If we can not get urban transport right quickly facilitating the cycling golden bullet what chance do we have of dealing with complex problems associated with the economy, deforestation, energy, immigration etc...

Every time I try to explain to someone outside cycling why it is important to facilitate cycling in urban spaces as an option for normal people I have to hear:

"- we all have to behave it is a culture problem.
- who will pay for it.
- cyclist do not obey the law.
- helmets / dangerous / red lights...
- the Greens.
- the MaH├╝......
.... it is normal you and can not change it."

The following Video is not going to maintain complex life on this planet on it own but it could be a start.  It is an attempt to show different perspectives and that creating conflict with the current road designs and expecting road users to work it out amongst themselves is not going to increase cycling into the main stream and create enough modal shift towards cycling to make any difference worth bothering with.  It is a gentle respectful suggestion that cyclists need to be taken more seriously and not used as human powered traffic calming devices. I think Bernhard of the City Cycling School did a great job of trying to build bridges between the groups, or at least point out that the conflict between them on this bridge is a direct result of the road design.



It and some good work from local activists together with local politicians and planners who listened to concerns has resulted in a solution:






They put up a warning sign.....

OK it is a quick temporary response but it is NOT a long term solution, and not even a solution of any kind other than an acknowledgement of a problem but at least it did not make things worse.

Looking to the longer term (ie. before we cook ourselves on the only planet we have) Vienna has developed ambitions targets with vague meaningless words that are open to interpretation compromise and the same old business as usual model approach.  It all sounds good but what does it really mean?  Is it the low hanging fruit of mobility where every new road modification is used to implement Dutch quality cycling infrastructure?  I worry that "miteinander mobil" means more human powered traffic calming like this un-workable result of group think from the cycle lobby.

The cycle lobby is determined to keep trying to change the behavior of other groups as a solution to their problem.
The media enjoy escalating the conflict between groups to attract more audience.
The politicians tell each group what they want to hear.
The planners follow their guides which based on 30 year old knowledge.
The Police try to enforce incomprehensible laws.
The world keeps turning and getting hotter.

If we are so stupid that we remain trapped in our man made systems of group think then at some point not too far away we will see change forced upon us at a rate that will make us realize that the word "sustainable" really means "not all going to die in the foreseeable future".