Recently, while reading a post from the Lovely Bicycle! blog, I came across the terms Pro-VC and Pro-Infrastructure. These terms were intriguing to me since I had been thinking about the different views on city cycling and now had an easy way to label them. In case you’re unfamiliar with these terms, Pro-VC (vehicular cycling) was coined by John Forester and describes an integrated approach to cycling where cyclists share the road with cars and follow the same traffic rules. Pro-Infrastructure describes the practice of building cycling infrastructure like bike lanes and protected paths with the goal of keeping cyclists and cars separate.
With Indy committing substantial resources to build the cycling infrastructure, including a Bikeways plan to create more than 200 miles of bike lanes in the next 12 years, it would seem that the City supports a Pro-Infrastructure approach. This isn’t surprising considering that this seems to be the preferred method across the United States, while many European cities adopt the Pro-VC approach.
While I understand the benefits of both, I lean towards a Pro-Infrastructure view. As a commuter with a fitness bike (that lacks the speed of a typical road bike), I like the safety that the bike lanes and paths like the Monon, the Central Canal Towpath, and the Cultural Trail offer. I’ll admit that I even get a little annoyed when I see cyclists on roads like Mass Ave. while the Cultural Trail is wide-open…though it’s possible that my annoyance is really just jealousy that I can’t comfortably ride on the road with cars yet. Either way, some part of me wonders if the City will continue to put resources into bike lanes and paths when people choose to use the roads instead.
On the other hand, a Pro-VC approach would likely create a change in culture. If cars were forced to share the road with cyclists, one would assume that it would increase awareness and create a safer space for everyone. I think it would take years, maybe even decades, for our commuting culture to make this pro-cycling shift. For now, I think I’ll stick to the bike lanes and let the road bikers choose their own path.
What’s your view? Do you think we should continue to build the cycling infrastructure or move to a public awareness approach supported by Pro-VCers?
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