Saturday, October 16, 2010

open note to dan gutierrez

hey, dan, a voice from the past.

saw your post on the CABO boards the other day, where you say roger geller told you thus and such to your face at the LAB bike summit three years ago.

specifically, you said roger
told me to my face at the [2007 summit] when I asked him about the driver rights in Portland, that those who prefer to act like drivers will just lose their rights in Portland, Oregon, in order to further the City's social goal of promotion of bicycling through mandatory segregation.

gotta say it, dan, that sounds like you are paraphrasing rather than quoting. maybe the original sounded more like
"dan, we are working toward a future in which the private automobile is completely secondary in the urban transportation mix, and unless someone works to get the far to right law and the mandatory sidepath law repealed, which is not PBoT's role, but which we do not oppose, and in fact our master plan for 2030 includes express statements that we want to have that conversation, then yes, someone who adheres to vehicular principles will find himself outside the law. but we are not going to let that stop us from implementing strategies that will lead us ultimately to complete streets."

ya think?

and for those on this thread who have tossed about the word "charlatan." that word has a dictionary definition. it means someone who pretends to an expertise he does not in fact have, in order to deceive someone. this could be seen as a slander, if we are talking about someone's profession. the guy has a masters from tufts in urban and environmental policy, which maybe should be a hint why he sees things differently than you do. but presumably you are not calling into question the quality of the education he received at tufts. he has himself been a vehicular cyclist for thirty-odd years, quite a number of them on the streets of boston.

i have it on reasonably good authority that roger has moved on from this conversation. you guys are fighting a rear guard, and you find yourselves defending a status quo that was created by the dominance of the private automobile and need not be preserved.

r. willis


  1. Russell,
    I spoke with Roger at the advocates' dinner at the end of the 2007 Bike Summit in DC. I specifically asked him what effect building mandatory facilities would have on cyclists' driver rights, and his answer, which I recall very well, was clear on the point of trading rights for social goals. He may not have used the term "mandatory segregation", and may instead have said "mandatory facilities", though the main point does not change, the City was taking away driver rights to promote social goals.

    What you wrote is not anything like his answer to my question. But then again, you weren't there, were you?

  2. Russell,
    Also note that I didn't refer to Geller as a charlatan, I said that another persons use of the term was charitable. I wrote that because I find someone who would trade bicyclist driver rights for planning ideals to be much worse than a charlatan.

  3. all i can tell you, dan, is that roger has said publicly any number of times that he would not oppose an effort someone might undertake to repeal the far to right and mandatory sidepath laws, but it is not PBoT's role. the fact that he is pushing facilities that over a very long term would tend to push motorists to the side, rendering the "vehicular" rear guard superfluous, does not make him a "charlatan," unless that future is objectively unattainable. but you (and forester) seem to be arguing not that it is unattainable, but that it is somehow undesirable. you guys need to articulate a clear argument why that might be. calling it "social engineering" is not sufficient, as the existing situation has been engineered by people trying to sell us cars.

  4. The problem is not that Portland is espousing separated facilities for cyclists vs. a vehicular model; but rather, that the quality of the engineering designs they are coming up with to achieve this goal are so freakin' poor.

    IMO, that's not necessarily Roger's fault; after all, he's a planner and a policy guy and not the engineer coming up with the actual designs. Having said that, I do think he's still complicit when it comes to allowing these lousy designs to be built and they become reality for cyclists out on the streets.

  5. Well, I gotta say - I've been a car-free monomaniacal bike transportationist since '95. I've lived in Berkeley and Olympia and Portland during this period. On the ground, in Portland, now, as a person who gets around by bike for 97% of his city miles, life is sweet. First class citizenry is mine all the new facilities feel graceful to me. Whatever Roger's actual influence is, I'm not sure. I do know that he's part of a system that's working. (I'm also a League of American Bicyclists-certified instructor.) I think it's easy from the outside to over-think engineering decisions and in doing so, find ways that they don't align with one's dogma template. I really do. Ask actual people who ride to work. Look at colision statistics. Find your real-life evaluations there.