Because one cyclist cut him off, in what may or may not have been a right-hook on the driver’s part, an Austin writer once again trots out the common fallacies that a) cyclists don’t pay for the roads, and b) we’re not held accountable because we’re not required to ride with large numbers on our backs.
One of the biggest lies told in this country is that drivers pay for the roads they use through gas taxes and license fees.
The fact is, the federal gas tax, which isn’t indexed to inflation, hasn’t been raised in nearly 20 years, and doesn’t begin to cover the costs of building and maintaining federal roadways. And the overwhelming majority of funds used to build and maintain roads on the local level, where motorists do most of their driving — and cyclists do most of their riding — comes from the general tax fund.
In other words, we all pay for the roads. Even those who’ve never bought a gallon of gas or been behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, and never will.
Since the overwhelming majority of cyclists are drivers, as well — and virtually all of us are taxpayers — we already pay for the roads in multiple ways, just as other drivers do. And those who don’t drive are subsidizing those who do.
Never mind the other costs associated with driving, as pointed out in a letter from Micah Posner to the Santa Cruz Sentinel (which has since been deleted from their website, unfortunately).
But roads are not the biggest expense that society takes on for cars. For every mile driven in a car, cyclists pay 4.8 cents to subsidize car parking, 3.5 cents to subsidize accidents caused by cars, four cents to pay for the effects on human health, etc. Every mile driven costs society as a whole 32.9 cents, not including wars over oil. Only .5 of these costs are paid for by driver user taxes. That’s why gasoline is taxed much more heavily in most other industrialized countries.
Then there’s that whole licensing issue that continues to rear its ugly head far too often.
I won’t get into the abundant arguments against licensing cyclists, except to say that licensing would discourage cycling at a time when it is in everyone’s best interests to have more riders on the road to cut congestion, decrease pollution and improve overall health in our overly obese society.
Instead, let’s just consider the common fallacy the Austin writer brings up, that vehicle licenses enable enforcement of traffic laws, and that cyclists can’t be held accountable because we don’t have them.
So tell me, when was the last time a police officer knocked on your door and handed you a ticket for a traffic violation that occurred hours, or even days, before?
Because, excluding red light and speed cameras, where legal, a traffic violation must be observed by a police officer in order for the driver to be ticketed.
It doesn’t matter how many witnesses are willing to testify that the driver ran a red light, or wove dangerously in and out of traffic at an excessive speed. If a cop didn’t see it, he can’t write a ticket — even if everyone else on the road copied the license number of the offending vehicle and called it in to the police.
Yet somehow, a number on a cyclist’s ass is supposed to allow police to ticket or even arrest him or her based on eyewitness reports?
Not gonna happen.
Police have exactly the same authority to ticket cyclists as they do anyone else. If they see the violation, they can pull the rider over and write ‘em up. And contrary to the perception of far too many motorists — and cyclists — they do.
We’ll also ignore his absurd observation that whoever pays makes the rules, which applies exactly nowhere else in American law.
Then there’s this comment I received last night in response to an old post in support of SB 910, the three-foot passing law vetoed by California Governor Jerry Brown last year.
Aside from the usual bike-hating blather — including a comment that a law should be passed requiring cyclists to stay three-feet from motorists — he argues that a three-foot passing law will increase congestion. And that we don’t belong on the roads in the first place.
This law will have an adverse affect on commerce and create even more grid lock on our roadways. After all, the roadways were built to support interstate commerce and paid for with motor vehicle and fuel taxes. The roads were not built for your cycling entertainment.
Never mind that roads were not built for cars.
Very few state and local roads, where most cyclists ride, play any role in interstate commerce. And even if that standard was applied, it would result in most motor vehicles being banned along with bikes, since only a small part of traffic is engaged in commerce at any given time — let alone of the interstate variety.
And don’t get me started on the absurd misconception that bikes are only ridden for entertainment.
While many cyclists do ride for fun and health — which should be encouraged as a means of combating rising societal health costs due to obesity and related health problems — many others ride for transportation, and far more do both.
And even with California gas prices hovering well over $4 a gallon, I haven’t heard anyone call for a ban on recreational driving. Even though that contributes far more to traffic congestion than every cyclist on American roads combined, whatever reason they ride.
If you don’t believe me, just try finding parking anywhere near the beach on a sunny weekend. Or counting cars buzzing by on a popular scenic byway with no commercial centers in sight.
I’ll be riding my bike to a meeting tonight, and expect to enjoy the trip far more than I would if I was driving.
So does that make it transportation or recreation?
Other than a relative handful of bike haters, who really cares?
As for that meeting, I hope you’ll join me at the first meeting of the LACBC’s newly formed Civic Engagement committee.
The committee is being created to allow the LACBC to play a role in local elections in the city and county of Los Angeles. While the non-partisan committee will not endorse or work for individual candidates, our plan is to get candidates on the record through the use of questionnaires, as well as candidate forums, socials and debates.
The meeting will take place from 6:45 to 8:45 pm on the Mezzanine level of LACBC headquarters, 634 South Spring Street, with future meetings to be held on the last Tuesday of every month, location to be determined.
Participation is open to everyone, member or not. And candidates are welcome to stop by to introduce themselves, at tonight’s meeting or any future meetings, though time restrictions may limit speaking time.
Claremont Cyclist notes that Andy Schleck has backed into his yellow jersey. Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal takes home Canada’s first grand tour victory; Mark Cavendish misses the Giro’s points title by one point.
Evelyn Stevens wins the inaugural Exergy Tour women’s pro stage race, which should put her on the U.S. Olympic team. And Tim Duggan is your new national pro road race champion, while Dave Zabriskie wins the time trial once again.
The L.A. Weekly notes the neighborhood where a 19-year old cyclist was shot in Koreatown last weekend is ground zero for one of the city’s most notorious gangs. Will Campbell offers a time lapse of his annual ride to remember the real reason for Memorial Day; hint: it’s not barbeque, beaches or shopping. Bikas spots new bike lanes on White Oak Avenue. The Ballona Creek bike path will be closed in Culver City for two months beginning tomorrow. Glendale officers ride to remember one of their own. Long Beach gets a bike-friendly promotion.
Let’s Go Ride a Bike profiles San Diego’s Brown Girl in the Lane. Is roadway bullying just a matter of boys will be boys? A San Francisco cyclist is acquitted of hit-and-run in a collision that injured an elderly pedestrian. Wrong way cycling may seem safer, but it’s far from it. California’s proposed three-foot passing law advances after being watered down in the Senate.
Grist says Congress gives young cyclists the middle finger. Ten reasons to ride your bike. An unlicensed Washington driver swerves to avoid a skunk and kills a cyclist. Mountain bikers head to Colorado’s Grand Valley. A South Dakota political candidate is cited for DUI after hitting a seven-year old cyclist. Once again, a select group of cyclists will retrace the Trail of Tears. Chicago adopts a bold Vision Zero plan, committing to zero traffic deaths — bike, pedestrian or motor vehicle — within 10 years; so far, I only know of one L.A. candidate or elected official who even knows what Vision Zero means, let alone has called for it. David Byrne looks favorably on bike share in New York. Eight years ago, a 12-year old girl was promised a new dog if she won her age group in the national cycling championships; today, that dog helps pay for her college education.
An upcoming conference says children have a universal right to ride. Ottawa cyclists complain about non-bikes in the bike lane, just like cyclists in every other city. Utterly useless article in the great helmet debate, as a Vancouver writer refers to a number of studies to support his position without linking to or citing any; a Euro study suggests adverse health effects from a drop in cycling will outweigh benefits of a mandatory helmet law. Prince Charles rides an ebike. There’s something seriously wrong when the police are afraid to ride. Relatively inexpensive mirrors could help cyclists avoid truck blind spots. The Wall Street Journal says Asia is a hub for bikes.
Finally, rather than lock up his family’s bikes, a Nebraska man writes a stern letter to the thief or thieves; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads-up. And the Dutch don’t wear helmets or lycra, and they don’t ride racing bikes.
Except when they do.