“…but we’re still talking about 1 to 2 percent of transportation funding.“
Tim Blumenthal, president of Bikes Belong.
If you read my post on Citi Bike, you’ll recall that Dorothy Rabinowitz, in a fit of pique over New York City’s new bike share program, complained of an all-powerful bike lobby that had government in its clutches. That she could say something like that and expect any rational-thinking person to believe it was simply astounding. It’s like saying that the automobile lobby has just a teensy weensy bit of clout. Seriously, don’t you think that if the bike lobby were as omnipotent as she claims, our cities, streets, and culture would be very different than they are currently?
With a bike lobby on the scale of Rabinowitz’s fantastical claim, the first thing that you’d notice is that transportation by bike would simply be a part of every day life instead of the relative oddity that it is today because cycling would be both safer and encouraged. Protected bike lanes like the new Linden Avenue North Cycle Track in Seattle (that successfully separates cyclists from motor vehicle traffic) would be the norm instead of something to celebrate. In the few places where these lanes didn’t exist, motorists would be more aware of the presence of cyclists and laws like the Vulnerable User Law would either actually be enforced or be completely unnecessary. To encourage even more people to use bicycles, you might see tax breaks for those whose primary mode of transportation was cycling or for those who eschewed owning a motor vehicle all together. And yes, most cities would have a bike-sharing program. And then there would the secondary effects: healthier people, less traffic, cleaner air, less reliance on oil. It may be Dottie’s worst nightmare but to me it sounds awesome. Maybe…just maybe…I could retire my orange safety vest.
But I’m not hanging it up anytime soon. Even though the bicycle lobby has a seat at the transportation table, cycling still only sees about 1%-2% of all funding and there are a lot of Dorothy Rabinowitzs out there who think of cycling as transportation as a scourge upon this car-clogged planet. Yet the dream (or nightmare, depending on your take) lives. Cycling is becoming an ever more popular way of city travel. So while the all-powerful bike lobby is still only a figment of a nutty old lady’s imagination, if it can be imagined, it can be done.