To follow up on yesterday’s post, I want to address the whole discussion thing. I concluded my post with a short list suggesting that there are certain types of bicyclists that I’m willing to discuss advocacy with and certain types that, well, not so much. Now’s a good time to discuss stasis theory.
Before one can discuss anything intelligently with another person (with whom one disagrees) the two interlocutors must reach stasis — a situation in which they understand and accept the source(s) of their disagreement. Situations that are out of stasis are not truly discussable. The best example of that in our culture is the abortion issue. Pro-life? Pro-choice? Not only are those positions out of stasis, the parties do not want to achieve stasis because there’s a danger in it: once you agree about that with which you disagree, a chance is opened that you might be — horrors! — persuaded.
So what I was hinting at is this: Much of bicycle advocacy is out of stasis and is, therefore, not discussable.
What could we agree upon to reach stasis? Allow me to suggest a short list (certainly not exhaustive; and I certainly expect my readers to add to it):
- The rules of safe movement ought not be violated.
OK, so, yeah, that’s a really short list. And I am not suggesting — as I noted in the qualification above — that this list is exhaustive.
I want to begin the discussion here with the general agreement that the rules of safe movement ought not be violated — by planners, by engineers, by motorists, by bicyclists, by anyone.
If you believe that it is OK to violate the rules of safe movement, then we have nothing to discuss. The reason: Rules create the system of traffic. Without rules there is no system. So disagreement with the rules of safe movement is absurd.
Now that may sound like I’m simply trying to slam-dunk the discussion before it ever begins And, in a sense, that is true. But I’m not playing a rhetorical trick here. I am simply pointing out that in order to advocate for certain types of bicycle infrastructure, one must be willing to violate the rules of safe movement. If so, I’m going to point it out and ask: why?
There are many answers to why (e.g. increase participation). I have yet to hear one that’s persuasive. Or, one might not have thought it through far enough to see that what one is asking for is a death zone.