A Brief Biography of John Forester

John Forester, MS, PE, Cycling Transportation Engineer

Mr. Forester is a professional engineer and a fourth-generation cyclist who has been cycling since 1937. He is best known for his application of scientific principles to the operation of bicycles, particularly in traffic but also to the physiology, psychology, and sociology of cycling. His work has been addressed to cyclists, engineers, educators, and politicians.

Effective Cycling teaches you how to enjoy cycling, whether it is riding to work, touring for a day or a week, sparking the breakaway in a great race, teaching cycling to your children, or understanding the science of cycling.

The Effective Cycling Instructor's Manual teaches how to teach cycling to students from third grade to mature years.

Bicycle Transportation teaches the science of transportational cycling in the context of the current political situation. Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles and it is the responsibility of government to support that kind of cycling, in contrast to government's typical acts toward cyclists and disinclination to treat them as drivers of vehicles.

Mr. Forester's work on the committees that make traffic law stopped government from restricting cyclists further, restored the jeopardized principle that cyclists have the rights and duties of drivers of vehicles, and introduced some reduction in the inequitable restrictions that had been placed on cyclists.

Mr. Forester's scientific criticism of the first two sets of governmental standards for bicycle facilities (California's and the Federal Highway Administration's) demonstrated that their facilities would be extremely dangerous for cyclists. His analysis stopped both of those standards, and established the discipline of cycling transportation engineering. His subsequent work with the committees that produced the present standards reduced the proposed added dangers to what many consider to be an acceptable level. Note: the idea that bikeways reduce accidents to cyclists is a superstition; bikeways were neither intended nor designed to reduce accidents, and they do not do so.

Mr. Forester's work on teaching cyclists demonstrated that cycling with the rights and duties of drivers of vehicles is not nearly as complex a task as had previously been thought. His teaching demonstrated, by bicycle driving tests in actual traffic, that children can learn in reasonable time to ride better than most adults at much younger ages than was previously thought. The Effective Cycling Program is now the educational program of the League of American Bicyclists.

In addition to his scientific work, Mr. Forester has served as president of the California Association of Bicycling Associations, director and president of the League of American Bicyclists, member of the Bicycling Committee of the Transportation Research Board, and numerous short-term committees.

The scientific basis for his work in traffic engineering and psychology is in the book Bicycle Transportation (First edition, 1977; Second MIT edition, The MIT Press, 1994) and its practical application is in the book Effective Cycling (First edition, 1976; Sixth edition, The MIT Press, 1993), the Effective Cycling Program, the Effective Cycling Instructor's Manual, the film Bicycling Safely On The Road (Iowa State University, 1978), and the video Effective Cycling, The Movie, (Seidler Productions, 1992).

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