High On Bike

A Bellinghamster On Wheels


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Imagine All The Bikes

…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 Linden Bike Lane in Seattleyes, 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.

 


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Citi Bike: A BeGRIMMed Tale

Citibike.JPGOnce upon a time (a few weeks ago), in a land far, far away (New York City), a bike-sharing program called Citi Bike Bike was launched, providing the people of the land with an inexpensive, healthy way to travel through the busy streets. And while many people thought it was good (over 20,000 people bought annual memberships in the first week of the launch) the trolls and ogres of the land did not. They began to screech and howl.

Troll.JPGThere was one particular evil troll, Dorothy Rabinowitz, sitting on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal (owned by the King Ogre himself, Rupert Murdoch) who howled loudly and rather incoherently as trolls are wont to do. It quickly became obvious to the people that the evil troll didn’t like cyclists or sharing by claiming that bicycles and an all-powerful bicycle lobby (where that lobby was when the Washington State senate made its transportation proposal is anyone’s guess) were “begriming” the land. She even went on to screech that bicycles were more of a threat to the land than taxis. So incensed was she, that her wrath conjured up a new word that every auto-correct in the land wanted to change to “befriend.” To this very day, no one but the trolls and ogres is sure what “begrimes” really means.

But despite the howling, the nascent NYC Citi Bike program hasn’t heralded the end of the world. Programs like it have been established in many other lands, including Portland, OR; Washington, DC; Denver, CO; and San Francisco, CA. And yet life continues to go on.

The moral of this story is… well there really isn’t one… except that when the trolls and ogres begin to screech and howl, it’s best to just laugh and keep on pedaling.