On the subject of this proposal for "Boris's Bikes" in Aberdeen, GetAbout partners FirstBus were quick to issue a statement to local freesheet "Aberdeen Citizen" in which they said:
"We welcome any move which will reduce the amount of traffic within the city centre and which will allow our services to move more freely and speed up journey times for our customers."At first glance, as one might expect from the world's largest public transport operators, FirstBus appear to be issuing an anti-car rant with this statement. They seem to be saying that cyclists and buses are all in it together to reduce the amount of cars in Aberdeen.
But then, if you look closely, you'll see the true meaning of the statement. The spokesman says "reduce the amount of traffic"; where he means "cars" he says "traffic". The message is clear: bicycles are not traffic, they are something else (what that might be is not specified). Only cars are considered to be "traffic", and therefore only cars can provide the sort of transport which delivers economically active consumers and important business people into the city centre. Anything else is just something we don't, can't and won't understand because its outwith our conceptual framework.
Of course, for every motorist who might (Ford only knows why!) be tempted out of his or her lovely car and onto one of Boris's Bikes, that would be one less car on the city centre streets of Aberdeen. But it wouldn't be a reduction in the amount of traffic, it would be a shift in the kind of traffic - a qualitative shift, not a quantitative reduction. We thank FirstBus for concealing this fact and raising the spectre that the introduction of a bike sharing scheme in Aberdeen would reduce the total number of people entering the city centre, thus impacting the vibrancy and economic viability of our city.
Yes, by their subtle and disingenuous misapplication of the word "traffic" FirstBus have, thankfully, managed to endorse the status quo. They are confirming that cycling is not a form of traffic, and therefore they are confirming that traffic planners should make no provision for cycling. Why should they - when cycling is not a form of traffic?