Sunday, July 27, 2008

Common motorist rants...

I read this yesterday on Austin Cycling News and it links to the original post on Bike Forums. ChezJfrey covered each point, refuting them one by one. His Bike Forum post is quite long, so I didn't include it here. Believe me, it's worth reading and well worth keeping for those inevitable letters to the editor that crop up in the spring and summer.

I sent the link to our local advocacy list and Gary Parker responded. His piece follows the highlights from ChezJfrey.


Look at some of the “arguments” presented by motorists in these types of “discussions” about why cyclists die:

1. “…he [/she] was probably one of those jerks that ride in the street.” and “Highways and roads are for motorized vehicles only.” and “Cyclists block the road.”

2. “All I am saying is if you do something dangerous (jump out of an airplane, ride my bike in the road where big cars are) then you should accept the consequences.” and “You ride on the street, you risk your life, simple as that.”

3. “Motorists have paid for the roads through gas taxes, registration fees, and other taxes and fees. Cyclists in traffic are a danger and seem to feel they have a right. Let them start registering and paying for road permits so lanes can be built for them. Streets are for cars.”

4. “It is very simple, give them a license plate, and they will be forced to abide by the law, or face tickets and fines.” “Cyclists do not have the same accountability as drivers. If you drive a car like a complete moron people can call and report you, and it is possible you will pay the price later on, can the same be said for cyclists?”

5. “It is illegal for bicyclists to run stop signs and signals; it’s illegal for them to swerve in and out of traffic; but that doesn’t stop them from doing it.”

6. “Why is it necessary to ride on the busy streets downtown when you can go 2 blocks in either direction and ride on a smaller side street without all the cars?”

The matter really goes right back to the fact that the average, urban/suburban driver just doesn’t want ANYONE in their way when THEY are on the road. Any deviation from the “zoom, zoom” fantasy that requires an extra turn of the wheel or a push on the brake pedal before the trip is through aggravates and irritates the motorist. The stupidity lies in the fact that these motorists encounter thousands of other motorists clogging the streets and crushing their dreams every day and the occasional, skinny bicyclist is to blame for the entire mess and that goddamn cyclist has a death wish about to come true!

Stupid people don’t embrace education, so that approach is doomed to failure.

(I don't agree that education is futile because we know that other two legs of the advocacy triad, engineering and enforcement, are insufficient by themselves in changing individual behavior. But that's a subject for another time......Ed)

This is from Gary:

Bicycling and Taxes

With gas prices, temperatures and tempers rising, bikes and cars seem to be coming into greater conflict.

A common complaint by motorists is bikes aren't registered or taxed, and should have no right to the road.

Our friends at the Texas Bicycle Coalition figured out that bicyclists are actually subsidizing motorists.

Follow this:

- 95% of cycling adults own automobiles, and they pay registration and fuel taxes, for an average of $700 a year per car.

- It costs cities and counties over $1100 per vehicle per year to maintain streets and roads.

- The extra $400 comes from the government's general funds, which are sales, property and income taxes.

These taxes are paid by everyone, including the 5% of cyclists who don't own cars. Even renters indirectly pay property taxes.

Given that most of us drive our cars more miles per year than we ride our bikes, we're paying about 50 times more per mile traveled than a motorist.

In Oklahoma we pay about 35 cents a gallon in taxes on gasoline, a few cents less for diesel. That is not a sales tax. Even as the price of gas goes up, the tax remains the same. If road costs were truly reflected in the price of gas, we'd be paying over $6 a gallon for gas today.

So the next time you're confronted with the "taxes" issue as it relates to bicyclists on public roads, you've got the answer. They are taxpayers and even if they were not, they would still have access to public roads, because they are public roads.

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