Americans love wars. Not actual wars but metaphorical wars. There’s the War on Christmas, the War on Workers. I’ve personally fought (and lost) the War on Country Music, the War on Eating Meat, and the War on Short Hair. (Thank you George Jones, chorizo sausage, and Grandpa Snyder.)
In the Seattle area some people would have you believe there is now a war between modes of transportation. Cars and bikes. At war.
This is silly on so many levels. Right now we are basking in the glow of another year of successful Bike to Work Month events in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. No cars were harmed in these events.
Yet there are a lot of angry folks in America. They can’t be angry anymore at Saddam, Osama, Nixon or Breznev so they need to focus that energy somewhere, and, lucky for us, some of it lands on cyclists.
Why? Because we are “Not paying our fair share!” Why should tax dollars go to pay for bike lanes and paths when we cyclists don’t even pay to register our bikes or pay lots of gas tax, they say. Roads are for cars, because that’s who pays for them.
Nonsense. Our roads are paid for by sales tax, property tax, and vehicle tab fees, which everybody pays regardless of how they get to work. I’m going to guess that 99.5% of all Spokane/Coeur d’Alene cyclists also own cars and pay tab fees. That just leaves gas tax.
If you can leave that bizarre parallel universe for a moment, where consuming less gas is a bad thing, think about this: gas tax pays hardly anything for the upkeep on local roads. Most gas tax goes to big mega-projects like highways where bikes don’t travel. And most of it doesn’t go to current projects. Most current gas tax goes to paying the debt service on projects that have already been built.
Cyclists pay just as much in taxes, but because they drive less they do much less damage to roads. Same goes for pedestrians and transit riders. We are just asking for fair transportation choices. We all use more than one mode. The next time you talk to somebody who is overly driving centric let them know about a magical solution you’ve heard of, one that will reduce congestion, reduce wear and tear on the roads, reduce emissions and might even lower gas prices and health insurance. The best part of the cycling solution is that no one who doesn’t want to, has to ever get on a bike: we just need to make it easier for the ones who do.
JON SNYDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF