Sat, 25 Apr 2009

Bike lanes aren’t for cyclists

The other day, it occurred to me that bike lanes aren't for cyclists. They are for motorists. No, automobiles don't belong in the bike lane, bikes do. Let me explain my unconventional perspective on this issue.

As citizens of this great nation, we have a right to freely travel the public roadways. Before there were automobiles, we Americans traveled the roads on horses, carts, and bicycles. In the last one-hundred years, the roadways have been virtually overtaken by automobile traffic. And in response, we've built our transportation infrastructure to primarily accommodate motorists.

But horses, carts, bicycles, human beings on foot, and other forms of non-motorized transportation still have a right to the roadways. Interestingly, driving is a privilege, not a right. So, it seems a bit odd to me when motorists tell cyclists to get off the road.

There have been some recent efforts to tax cyclists to pay for bicycle specific infrastructure (primarily bike lanes). The argument for such measures is that cyclists don't pay their fair share.

It's a tired and inaccurate argument. Most cyclists have automobiles, too, and pay the same taxes as every other motorist. While riding their bikes, cyclists are reducing congestion, wear and tear on the roads, decreasing demand on gasoline, and decreasing the environmental impact of transportation. Cyclists are, in fact, doing more than their part for the transportation system. A separate, additional tax for cyclists is silly.

And that brings me to my current view on bike lanes. Since bicycles already have a right to the road, we don't NEED any bike lanes. We can travel the same asphalt automobiles travel. Bike lanes make the roadways more convenient for motorists by moving the slower non-motorized road users out of their way.

So bike lanes are for motorists, not cyclists. If motorists don't want their tax dollars spent on bicycle infrastructure, that's fine by me. We can share the road. Slow down and enjoy the ride.

[/cycling] [link]

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