Who are the anti-cycleway people? Here is a superquick run through some ideas.
It’s a minority, but a noisy and rather entitled one
Janette Sadik-Khan says “When you disrupt the status quo, you need a boss who is willing to take the heat when the critiques come. […] Judged by the [public] polls, what had sounded like a chorus of opposition in the media was actually a small but determined section of the population. … When you push the status quo, it pushes back, hard.”
Many of us are reluctant car users
Jillian Anable segmented the population into two groups (car owning, non-car owning) with six sub-groups. It is the Die Hard Drivers (19%) that are most likely to be the cycleway haters, and just for the heck of it too. The Complacent Car Addicts (26%) can, if done well, be informed by providing better context, reasoning and details about a cycleway scheme. Unlike the Die Hard Drivers, the Complacent Car Addicts are not evidence-proof. In any case, the remaining 55% are thinking more rationally when ‘confronted’ with building cycleways.
Source Anable, J. (2005). ‘Complacent Car Addicts’ or ‘Aspiring Environmentalists’? Identifying travel behaviour segments using attitude theory. Transport Policy, 12(1), 65-78. doi: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2004.11.004
It depends on the questions you ask
Lynn Sloman looks at the phrasing of the debate. She writes “The context in which a question is asked is important. If asked ‘Would you like to pay more to use your car?’ or ‘Would tighter parking restrictions help solve traffic problems?’ most people will answers ‘No’. Questions framed in this narrow way will almost always get a negative result. But the same people will answer differently if the question is framed in a wider context. ‘Would you support higher parking charges if we use the money to improve public transport?’ and ‘Would you support closing the town centre to traffic so we can make it more attractive for pedestrians and cyclists?’ are much more likely to get a positive reaction. The issue of how a question is framed is crucial … ‘What kind of city do you want to live in?'” (my emphases)
Source Sloman, L. (2006). Car sick: Green Books. p.149.
We all have our own stories to tell
Personally speaking, I have been attacked by a supposed community leader who wanted to sue me for libel (if only it were possible) when calling them out to their illogical approach and reactions. I suppose we all have our stories to tell. I am struggling to understand the attitude and behaviour of people opposing the construction of cycleways. To me, it can only be a very selfish person who argues against a good quality cycle network in the face of climate change, urgent need for longterm solutions and sustainable approaches, our obesity epidemic, air and noise pollution, community severance, spatial and access injustices. Fear perhaps plays a big role too for the antis.
Fear of the unknown, fear of the new… but I, again, struggle to reconcile that with the aggression and viciousness that can be put up when cycleways and car restraint are proposed. A wider understanding of the transport transition process or mode shift seems to be lacking intellectually as yet. Perhaps this is because the debate, shrouded in fear and loaded emotionally, turns irrationally too easily. As yet.
It seems that when you understand the above and get it right, there can be tremendous support for protected cycleways, see Independent 2 March 2016 “There’s strong public support for building more segregated cycle tracks” subtitled “Motorists were equally keen on the new [cycle] infrastructure”. So we come full circle, it’s up to our politicians to (listen, learn then) lead, put the right processes and people in place and seek out and work with supportive groups for a better healthier future in our cities.
Corrected 9 April 2016: Die-hards to 19% (from 26%) and complacent car addicts (vice versa) – thanks for beady eyed @AlternativeDFT