Better Ways – Frisbee teams and bike intersections
The first time i played pick-up ultimate Frisbee i was introduced to a new way to select teams for the many one-on-one sports out there. As we gathered as a group someone said “find someone of about your ability and pair up with them. Everybody on the left is on this team the rest are on the other.” It was fast, it felt fair and it was completely novel to me.
I selected my fine friend Rabbit as my partner, not so much because we were the same ability, but rather because i knew him. This was a tremendous mistake. Rabbit could outplay me in almost all aspects of ultimate. The afternoon was frustrating and exhausting. And what was clear was that this was my choice. This also demonstrated the self-correcting nature of this system, since i would not repeat this mistake.
I thought to myself afterwards: why don’t we select all teams this way? It seems to be better in every way. I mentioned this to a couple of players who were often selected as captains. They did not see a reason to change from the existing system which rewarded their talents. They talked about team work and balancing abilities, the need for leadership. None of it was convincing. This was one of the foundational moments in my embracing anarchism. The broken system was perpetuating itself, despite clear better alternatives.
i had a bit of the same feeling when i saw this video:
This design takes exactly the same footprint in terms of space and makes it better for bicycles and safer for car and bike interaction. And why does this better design not happen (in the US)?
Thanks Basha for your comment and your link to this informative YouTube video on the history of Dutch bike culture and how it advanced after WWII. Instrumental in this it turns out was:
- Dramatic increase in car culture with increased affluence
- A significant increase in children killed by cars and the resulting protests
- The 1973 arab oil embargo, which hit the Netherlands far harder than the US
- National level political will to resolve these problems.
Check out this video
You always wish to say that we are a common sense people that goes about things in an even and orderly fashion. But if you go anywhere, do anything, or meet anyone – it is hard to keep up that illusion. I have always thought (with no actual knowledge of road design, mind you) that our streets and roads are built based on a socio-economic hierarchy, rather than traffic sense. Cars are more important than bikes, bikes more important than pedestrians. You would think the traffic sense would be from the vulnerable first to the most protected last (for optimal safety), but it is instead based on who has the most expensive investment and therefore is more important. Yet they still seem to complain the most.
PJ – i think your analysis is right. Road design is dictated by cars, because they are the high cost item on the road. Transportation planners think “roads are for cars” and work backwards from there, creating the poor designs we so often see in the US.
But my anarchist challenge remains, when we can see from our Dutch and Danish friends, that there are better systems available, at minimal additional money cost and no additional space cost then why dont we embrace them?
And what is also true is that we see slowly these lessons are arriving in some places in the US, typically affluent areas first.
Because the bicycle lobby is under-funded? I joke, but it is only half a joke, really. Things don’t happen in this country unless people with power have something to gain. Affluent areas have the money to make or force the changes in order for their own people to be safe or more “civilized”. But no one with influence cares about faceless strangers enough to undertake the overhaul it would need to make the changes.
I used to think that the Dutch got their bicycling infrastructure in some vaguely organic way. It grew from a basic common sense and shared values. This is the post that dissuaded me: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2011/10/how-dutch-got-their-cycling.html – now I just believe that they wanted it more and were more willing to fight. Worth a read, imo.
Bike traffic is badly planned, because planners are males between 37 and 54 and for 98% drive cars, not bikes. There has been quite a bit of research into this area. Even where bike policies are introduced, bike paths continue to be dangerous and badly layed-out, like here in Gdansk. They are projected to compete with pedestrians, not with cars, though cyclists are not fast pedestrians, but basically more sensible car drivers. This creates horrible situations… cycling 25 km/hr slightly downhill to be suddenly stopped by a mother with pram swirling from the pedestrian way onto the bike path, for instance… Not a situation men in steel boxes every would consider… In the Netherlands – where men in that age group more often tend to ride bikes, bikes are rightly seen as competition to car traffic and therefore also the lay-out of bike paths competes in space with cars, not with pedestrians (as you can see in the little film).
There is a lot of power and gender politics behind all this…