In which I write another post about cars
My dad is an auto mechanic, among other things. Those of you who took Psych 101 in college are probably having a field day right now. Eh, whatever. You only know me through this thing.
Anyway, here is dad's new car:
I posted about dad's new car here because it's such a lovely counterexample to the theory--which I hate--that cars are Real Transportation used by everyone and therefore vitally important, while bikes are only recreational devices used by a tiny fringe minority, and therefore bike facilities don't deserve such a huge (as perceived by drivers) piece of the budget pie. (Hey, does anyone happen to have a pie chart handy? I'd love to see how tiny our slice really is.) A similar argument is that bikes don't deserve anything at all because transportation infrastructure (i.e., roads, to most people) is funded in part through gas taxes, which bicyclists don't pay because they don't buy gas. (This argument also crops up a lot when your local public transportation system faces an imminent funding crisis. It's been an interesting year.)
Some people will go so far as to claim that bicyclists shouldn't even ride on the road because they don't contribute any revenue for road building. My dad tried to argue that the other day. I hate to say that I let him win, but I did let the argument die because, well, he's my dad. It's not that I'm afraid of upsetting my dad, it's just that arguing with my dad is sometimes like arguing with the television.
CycleDog, in response to a debate in the LA Times on bike facility funding, calls this an old, tiresome argument. I call it infuriating but necessary. I don't get to argue with the U.S. Secretary of Transportation or a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, I get to argue with people like my dad, and frequently. And if I asked people like my dad where bikes are supposed to go if they shouldn't be on the road because they don't pay taxes but bike trails are a waste of those taxes, what would they say?
Actually, I don't know what they'd say. They might just ask me why I don't just drive like everyone else. And I'll reply that gas is too expensive, and they'll counter that, well, of course gas is expensive, what with all the money wasted on bike trails. (And public transportation. And Amtrak. Well, that's the government for you.)
So here's a question that I'd like to ask people like my dad: Given a choice, would you rather pay to keep us bicyclists off the roads or begrudge us to use them along with you? Think very carefully. "No bikes at all" is not an option, no more than "no cars at all."
Once we have an answer to that question, then perhaps we won't need to debate it way up at the policy-making level.
I'm thinking this through as I write it. Other thoughts?
In similar news, this.