Monday, May 14

TCS ATP and More

John Romeo recently made a post about what he called "Total Cycling Support" versus "As Traffic Permits." IMO, it was a thought-provoking and important post. Go read it if you haven't already. Clearly, based on THIS post, it provoked some thought at this locale. After consideration, I'll toss out the notion that, in reality, it isn't really one versus another. For TCS, simply look here. We might debate the relative importance of various elements under various circumstances. But I think we really pretty much agree. JRA noted the Netherlands as an example. I think the Dutch would mostly agree with the LAB link. Indeed, I just saw an interesting post about the role of education in Dutch cycling, here. TCS consists of many elements.

As for ATP, my own position was, perhaps, cited here or here. However, when you are out on your bike, on a road that you might prefer not to be on, what ARE you going to do? On such a day, the "IF" choice may be irrelevant as you look at that busy highway you HAVE to cross in order to get home. It matters little whether you prefer something else. Starkly, you either ride as safely and well as you can, or you find some way to slink home. Perhaps, if you are not unusually determined, you never ride again and, instead, commiserate with your fellow motorists about how dangerous things are. Yeah, I wouldn't mind if things were better for cyclists. But they're not. At least not today. Not in the good ol' USA. While I think cycling is fun and safe, I also don't think my knowledge is likely to become anything more than a "fringe" opinion. Certainly not in the near future.

And THAT is the fundamental difference between our blogs. JRA, in his blog, makes excursions into the world that never was and says; "why not." I, in my blog, more often stick to the world that is, and ask; "how." IMO, we need both. Perhaps the "how is less inspired than the exposition of how things SHOULD be and MIGHT become. Perhaps the focus on "how" is the curse of the engineer. On the other hand, where would the crew of Apollo 13 be without the engineers who solved the problem of surviving an explosion in deep space?

In the world, we need both dreams AND pragmatism.

For the first, I'll refer you to a speech, made on my birthday, by John Kennedy at Rice University. He epitomized the dream. Without the dream, we would never have made the attempt.

John Kennedy Expresses a Dream

For the second, I'll refer you to a desperate attempt to save the lives of men sent to the moon in fulfillment of that dream. Without that engineering, those brave men would have died.
Engineers Brought the Astronauts Back from the Brink of Death

In reality, the human race needs both elements. TCS is a vision of what we might wish and work for. ATP gives us a way to get back home - today. The choice, in my opinion, is not whether to favor one or the other. The choice is to use the other while achieving the dream.


Pondero said...

Brilliant analysis, as usual Steve, but you left out two key ingredients; white short sleeve shirts and skinny ties.

Steve A said...

Pondero, Back in the day, dreamers and engineers both wore white shirts and skinny ties.

John Romeo Alpha said...

My dad wore the white shirt, skinny tie, and pocket protector. I think the dreaming of what might be strategy was my way of getting out of taking out the garbage. Since I (like Steve) live in a large metro area that rates not-even-bronze on the LAB BFC list (although next door to a GOLDEN place of wonder), knowing how to cycle safely on the roads we actually have is key if you want to cycle at all and not leave the bike hanging on the garage wall.

cafiend said...

The best part of the engineering in the clip you included is its improvisational nature. That's my job every day in the workshop, trying to get the bike industry's fantastic products to work in the real world. And they relied on duct tape to get it to work!

Opus the Poet said...

The problem is people that see people riding bicycles in the street and get mad because we are "in the way" VS the people that see us riding bicycles in the street and say "well they have a street just like we do, what more do they really need?". One group wants us gone, (from the country if you believe Internet comment sections for bike wreck articles). and the other group thinks there doesn't need to be any money spent because people are already riding in the street or on the sidewalk.

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