Fringe Maniac Piece Confuses The Conversation

New parking-protected bike lane on Toronto's Bloor St just prior to completion.
New parking-protected bike lane on Toronto’s Bloor St just prior to completion.

An interesting article was recently published in the National Post by a journalist who’s a self-proclaimed “fringe maniac” cyclist.  Several people have asked me about it – I’ve read it through several times, put it in context with the body of research and case studies from places large and small, and enjoyed a few good conversations about it. 

On one hand, the author is a journalist and can string words together clearly, yet on the other hand falls down in his craft fairly quickly and commits several cognitive and professional missteps.

He makes several meaty assertions, but then instead of backing them with case studies and research, of which there is much, he short circuits himself by leaning on personal anecdotes. Personal anecdotes can be illustrative and helpful, yet as evidence hold no sway.

He then digs the hole deeper by losing all objectivity and speaking as one of the 1% of people who are hardened vehicular cyclists and willing to tackle any weather or traffic conditions. From his perch, he ignores the SafetyInNumbers2/3 of people who would choose to cycle more if they felt safer, as with protected facilities, a consistent finding in survey after survey, both before and after implementation of protected lanes. We don’t advocate building “private highways” for the 1% of “fringe maniacs”.  We advocate building protected facilities that give the majority of people the safer and healthier active mobility options they ask for over and over, as in the public workshops leading to the cycling network committed in Brockville’s Official Plan.

Unlike that author, this one may not be a journalist or polished writer, yet I am a careful and discerning reader and experienced at building business cases of all sorts, built on hard information. I put this fringe maniac’s article in the heap of fringe opinion pieces to gather dust, rather than the body of thought-provoking material worthy of further discussion.

Read the article here.

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.