Chart of the Day: Effectiveness vs Achievability of Pro-Bike Tactics

Check out this fabulous chart! It’s from a UK bike blog by Joe Dunckley called “At War With the Motorist,” and outlines what the author calls the “is it worth asking for” metric.

Here you go:

politics v effectiveness chart

Obviously this is a subjective thing dealing with politics and opinions about systems change. Also, this particular chart relates to specific times and places.

But I think it’s a useful way of understanding some of the different approaches of groups focusing on changing our transportation systems. There are some important distinctions between people who’d like to “ban all cars” and those would want more

Here are the key points that Dunckley makes:

These positions on the graph are all just things I’ve made up with 2 minutes thought, but they are based on 8 years of looking at these things. Want to know why I’ve placed items where they are? The Cycling Embassy Canards pages are a good place to start, then Crap Waltham Forest’s what won’t bring about mass cycling series and David Hembrow’s what not to do posts. Your tweets have done nothing to change my verdict on “strict liability”, 20 mph limits or Bikeability training.


The issue at the heart of the original discussion was: what will remove barriers and enable cycling for all demographics, making it a genuine option and creating the conditions for mass cycling to improve our cities and supply our transport demands? So this concentrates purely on that outcome. Policies can have other outcomes too, so, yes, 20mph limits are a good thing worth campaigning for — but because of the sum of the outcomes, not because they will enable mass cycling.


The fact that something’s in the “not happening any time soon” category doesn’t automatically disqualify it from being worth asking for. Because, if you use the tactic carefully, going in with a big ask can make it easier to achieve a smaller one: we got the relatively small but very worthwhile victory of Cycle Superhighways by blazing in with the big ask of Go Dutch. And once the Cycle Superhighways are open, Go Dutch itself will creep ever higher towards the plausible region.

I’d love to see a chart like this for Minnesota. Maybe I’ll make one someday…

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.