Thursday, February 25, 2010

Italians Prefer to Shoot the Postman and Keep Truths Hidden

Based on the recent Italian verdict against Google ( here is what I conclude:

1) Italy (and perhaps Europe in general) prefers that bullying be hidden so people don't know it is happening -- if no one knows, that is better, right?
2) If it is publicized thus exposing the bullies -- shoot the messenger so it won't be publicized again -- punish the mechanism that transmitted the information because it is bad for people to know that bad things are happening.
3) Europe should have punished those that publicized the Holocaust -- so that it would never have been known that the Holocaust happened.
4) If the postal service delivers unsavory news, shoot the postman so they will stop delivering it.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Compromise Can Be Difficult

There is an interesting discussion occurring about the League of American Bicyclists at:

Here is what I think:

Often the closer you get to an organization, the uglier it's complexion -- the warts and blemishes become more visible. Nonetheless, it is important to take the whole into account and decide whether overall the organization is moving the cause forward even though it may not be specifically moving the parts some individuals want.

Regarding bike lanes, while sometimes their design is not the best, they do attract more cyclists and give them a degree of safety (or at least the perception). After getting more cyclists on the roads, more will realize that bike lanes need to be designed better and hopefully that will have an impact. Often we need to take imperfect steps on our hike toward overall improvement. It's a bit Machiavellian but it is practical. Additionally, to make progress in this area we often must make political compromises.

Yes having everyone become a well educated effective cyclist would be best, but unfortunately this is highly unlikely. The barriers are too high for most people. Conversely the barriers to bike lanes are relatively low and bike lanes are very visible, relatively long lasting, and highly attractive to most normal cyclists.

So while hard core utility cyclists see no need for bike lanes, and they would be right if we could educate all motorists and cyclists, the hurdle is too high to educate the vast majority of normal people whereas these normal people see the immediate advantage of bicycle lanes. And eventually those bicycle lanes can be made safe too.

Sometimes it is the best course of action to make progress where it is easiest rather than fighting the tide.

I've chosen to become a lifetime member of some national organizations (LAB & Adventure Cycling) as well as a local organization (Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition). I do what I am able to advocate for better education, helmet use and well designed bicycle facilities. I continue to believe it is worth supporting the LAB in addition to state and local organizations.

(BTW, I greatly admire what John Schubert, John Forester, and John Allen have accomplished.)

(BTW2, what I say above applies in a general way to all organizations with which I've been involved, some ended up on the net plus side, some on the net negative side.)