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Sorry, liberals: Scott Walker is not waging a 'war on bikes'

By —— Bio and Archives--June 4, 2015

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Sorry, liberals: Scott Walker is not waging a 'war on bikes'ou certainly do hear a lot of insane things as a campaign season is getting underway, and most of them don’t stand up under even the slightest scrutiny. But most of them don’t ever receive the slightest scrutiny, which is why so many people believe them. So today, a lot of liberals are convinced that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is waging a “war on bikes.”


No. What he’s actually doing is what he’s done ever since he first took office - budgeting responsibly.

There are two hysterical claims at issue here. One is that Walker wants to impose a special $25 tax on the sale of every bicycle, which is being portrayed as his picking out one type of product for special punishment. The other is that Walker’s overall budget eliminates so-called “bicycling infrastructure” because Walker only wants infrastructure for cars. Some liberals actually think Walker is picking on cyclists because someone from the bicycling industry was his opponent in last year’s gubernatorial race.

Let’s sort through this:

First, the $25 fee/tax didn’t originate with Walker, and it might not ever be implemented anyway. Members of the Legislature were looking for a way to balance the fact that the state’s gas tax was funding both automobile and bicycle infrastructure, and they researched ways that other states balance that approach. One thing they found some other states do is to impose a bicycle registration fee, so that idea was put in the hopper for consideration. If it ever becomes law, it will be to fund the “bicycling infrastructure” the cycling community says it wants to maintain.

But about that: Walker’s proposed budget eliminates much of the funding for designated bike lanes, which are supposed to make it safer to bike on the road. Whether bicyclists like it or not, that is simply a matter of budgeting priorities. It’s also a matter of opinion whether bike lanes are really that safe.

I’m a pretty avid bicyclist, riding just about every day in the summer and traveling distances of anywhere from a couple of miles to around 25 or so, including a fair amount of urban riding. I realize I am in the minority within the community of those who ride a lot, but I have long believed that the idea of bicycling in the road is completely insane.

Bike activists blow a lot of wind trying to remind motorists that the law says they’re supposed to share the road, and yes they are, but this is about as idiotic a quest as you’re ever going to find. The safety problem for cyclists is not the motorist who doesn’t understand the law. Even if you don’t know the law, you can understand the safe maneuvers that make sense when someone is riding a bike in your lane. The problem is the reckless driver who isn’t paying attention, or doesn’t care, or who is simply going too fast. I don’t care how many campaigns cycling activists wage. There’s no way to make a person riding a bike in the road safe from a driver like that.

And I would contend that is just as true if someone is riding in a “bike lane.” These lanes are usually separated from the car lanes by nothing more than a line painted on the ground. A motorist taking a curve too fast, or swerving because they’re looking at their phone, is still a death threat for the cyclist.

The solution? Ride on the damn sidewalk. I am fully aware that this presents problems for pedestrians, and that the whole idea bothers cycling activists who think they have a right to be in the road. I don’t care. It keeps bicyclists alive. And the truth is this is what most cyclists do anyway. Only a small minority ride in the street - at least in major roads - because most recognize how dangerous it is.

If not having as many bike lanes forces more cyclists to the sidewalk, it may just be that Scott Walker saved some of their lives.


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Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain

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