Vehicular Cycling Advocate John Forester Dies at 90 - Bicycling Magazine Interview

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Perhaps no individual has had a greater impact on the way American cyclists experience riding on the road than John Forester, the father of the controversial "vehicular cycling" movement. On April 22, friends disclosed that Forester—who was 90 and struggling with his health for some time—had died the previous week. This extensive Q&A, conducted at Forester’s home last summer, is the last long interview that Forester gave about his life and work.

Forester is a pivotal and controversial figure to many people who are involved in bike advocacy. He’s become known as the father of vehicular cycling, a small but passionate and influential group who believe the bicycles should be operated like any other vehicle — ridden in the same lanes and manner as cars and trucks rather than in bike lanes or separated infrastructure. His positions shaped policy and street design in the US for decades.

MoBikeFed comment: In the bicycle advocacy world, probably no one in the past 50 years has had the impact--for good or for ill--that John Forester had.

His book "Effective Cycling" was the bible of on-road cycling for decades, and untold thousands of cyclists learned the basics of riding on the road from the book, or from people who had learned from the book, particularly in the decades leading up to the internet era.

The book had a strong effect on bike ed programs that are still with us today, including the League of American Bicyclist's Bike Ed and League Cycling Instructor programs, and other bike education efforts such as CyclingSavvy.

Online flame wars over effective cycling ideas--often among advocates with slightly varying degrees of purity in following Forester's ideas--raged hot and often in the 1990s and 2000s and still crop up occasionally today on online forums.

More about Forester and his ideas in the Effective Cycling program here:

Read Bicycling Magazine's full interview with Forester--the last major interview he gave before his death last month--here: