Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Windows (not the Microsoft product) and Gates (not William Henry the 3rd)

What is "the Overton window" ?

It's a policy concept developed by the late Josef P. Overton, who was vice president of the Mackinac Center for 
Public Policy. Its premise is that you can array all the possible policy actions on a given issue in a line ordered 
from accepted policy all the way to unthinkable. 

[ Policy - Popular - Sensible - Acceptable ] - Radical - Unthinkable 

The "window" is the subset or range of possible policies that are regarded as publicly acceptable to consider. Overton
argued that you can "move" that window by aggressively promoting extreme, unthinkable policies in such a way as to
make the 'merely' radical policies start to seem acceptable by comparison.

The above is taken from an interesting blog entry, "Public Policy and the Middle Ground Fallacy".

The author has much to say about bike lanes and "the fallacious middle ground", which I summarize as

"... a bike lane proposal that tries to combine the evidence-based position that a continuous network of bike lanes 
fosters more and safer cycling with the irrational position that a continuous network of bike lanes is somehow dangerous
or unfair to drivers cannot help but fail to achieve the goal of increasing the rate and safety of cycling."

"A badly designed, discontinuous bike lane network is worse than no network at all, because you end up with the situation
in <insert name of your town> in which Councillor <insert name of politician> sees a bike lane running along a short stretch
of <insert name of arterial road> and stopping arbitrarily before the <insert name of intersection>, notices that no one uses it,
and concludes that bike lanes are a waste of money."

What is "the Overton Gate" ?

Sculptor Tylur French designed a massive archway covered in recycled bicycles as a gateway for riders of the Shelby Farms 
Greenline entering Overton Park, in Memphis TN. The gateway was created through more than 300 painted bicycles, tricycles,
and wheelchairs that are mounted on top of two 13-foot steel towers.  Learn more about it at the links below.


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