#17. IT'S A WORK OF GENIUS - JUST ASK THE CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES! I’ve often wondered whether Simon Parker’s London Cycle Map deserves to be counted as a work of genius or just a bloody good idea.
As with most terminological debates, consensus doesn’t really matter – what matters is the brilliance of Parker’s breakthrough. In a stroke of astonishing insight, he has shown how to create a navigable network out of a sprawling labyrinth of cycle routes in London. If we sign and mark the streets of the current London Cycle Network in accordance with Parker’s routes, cyclists could get from anywhere to anywhere in the whole capital, safely and simply, by following just a few trails of colour.
My opinion is that in distilling such beautiful and useful simplicity out of such ravaging complexity, Parker’s pioneering, bolt-from-the-blue accomplishment deserves to be counted as a work of genius.
There is also a mischievous reason to think so. Jonathan Swift once said that “when a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this infallible sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him”. It does indeed appear that Parker has been treated this way.
Whether by the authorities, the mass-media, the general public, or even Britain’s major cycle advocacy groups, there is a rather sinister indifference being perpetrated against Parker's London Cycle Map.
Occasionally this indifference manifests itself in flippant and clichéd criticisms which, far from strengthening or undermining Parker’s idea as one would expect criticism to achieve, just bounce annoyingly off the surface like midges.
Mostly, though, the indifference equates to Parker’s idea simply being ignored – through a maddening silence, a burying of heads, or a stubborn continuation of flawed existing policies or proposals.
The dunces who are in confederacy against Parker are making his wonderful plan all the more difficult to realise, especially given that his London Cycle Map is being overlooked by cycle advocacy groups, who ought, at the very minimum, to give it a fair hearing.
But at least the confederacy of dunces is a sign of the ingenuity of Parker’s London Cycle Map. As ever, the good will out in the end.