To Make Our Streets and Roads Bikeable,
Defund and Terminate the Trails Committees!

by Tom Burrows
(Updated) November 19, 2013

Executive Summary

The bikeability of streets and roads in Mesa County is being impaired by misguided "trails activists" and political "bicycle advocates," who are notoriously unfamiliar with their own sport's safety principles. Specifically, they have been proposing and implementing a bikeway cycling infrastructure, which is largely unused by and unsafe for its supposed beneficiaries—in addition to being a waste of money, pavement and land. Their approach coaxes people who don't know how to ride safely onto bikes and fools them into thinking bikeways are a substitute for learning proper cycling.

For real improvements for bikeability and safety:

Safe vs. Unsafe Bicycling Infrastructure

Bikeways (e.g., marked bike lanes and mixed-used paths) are being promoted, supposedly for the benefit and safety of bicyclists; but, as is well-understood by competent cyclists, they are actually counterproductive. E.g.,

Safe cycling infrastructure involves

In what follows, I'll discuss how our current unsafe infrastructure apparently came to be "politically correct."

"Bicycle Advocates": A Menace to Bicyclists

No matter how wrong they are shown to be, "trails activists" and so-called "bicycle advocacy groups" are hell-bent on forcing unusable and unsafe bikeways on the community, even though cyclists themselves suffer the most from them. They even claim this nonsense is "for the children," for "fitness," a solution to "childhood obesity" and an economic panacea. Parades of followers sing gushing praises of the bikeways they claim to use—while out on the road, actual cyclists are voting with their handlebars and shunning them, in some cases out of necessity to avoid grievous bodily harm.

The activists' bull-headedness seems like more than just incompetence. So, what's driving them?

I believe the answer is that the trails committees are dominated by, and some bike clubs have been co-opted by, political activists who are blinded by a vision of a car-free utopia. They are either blind to the safety problems bikeways create for cyclists or consider this acceptable collateral damage in their quest to get as many people as possible out of cars and onto bikes—including people who don't know how to ride safely.

I'll explain:

It is a fact of nature (and law) that in order to operate a bicycle safely, you need the same degree of knowledge and judgement that would be required to operate a low-powered motor scooter or motorbike. This is almost the degree of knowledge and judgement required to operate a car. And it doesn't matter whether you're riding on a highway, a side street, a marked bike lane or a mixed-use trail. If you don't have at least this level of expertise, you will be a menace to yourself and others.

This level of expertise and education is far beyond what is expected of pedestrians, who typically consider glancing down the street before jaywalking to be all they need to know.

People are more likely to buy something if they believe it will be trivial to use. Thus, in order to maximize bicycle ownership and use, political bicycle fanatics must convince the public that operating a bicycle requires as little knowledge and judgment as being a pedestrian.

Bikeways indeed treat cyclists as pedestrians riding toys instead of what they really are—operators of vehicles. Thus, bikeways have become the chief method used to fool the public into thinking they can ride safely without going to the effort of developing knowledge and judgement. It is human nature to seek substitutes for knowledge and judgement; and the activists and the people they fool think they have found one in the form of bikeways.


To maximize the bikeability of our roads and the safety of cyclists, pedestrians and motorists,

I would further add that because of our extreme summer and winter temperatures and strong high-altitude ultraviolet, bicycle commuting every day year-round will be practiced here only by a handful of die-hards who want to see how much punishment their bodies can take. Utopians need to recognize that bicycles will not be viable here as the dominant mode of transportation they see in their visions.

Tom Burrows,

An electronic copy of this article, along with a couple of other papers detailing why "bikeways" are not the solution, can be found at