Thursday, July 15, 2010

St. Louis Area County Bike Ban Proposal - What Can We Learn?

A number of blogs and other cycling news outlets have reported on a proposed bicycling ban in St. Charles County in Missouri.  Council member Joe Brazil has proposed this ban which will come up for a vote Monday in the county.

Yes, it's the wrong Band-Aid on the problem, and I'm not going to get into whether it's wrong, stupid, anti-progress, or what have you.  It is all of those things.

But what can we learn from this?  Fritz at Cyclelicious listed a number of talking points for this bill for those who might be calling their county representatives in Missouri to combat this bill, and this one struck home for me:
Brazil says he is addressing a common constituent complaint. “I get more complaints about this single issue than any other issue,” he says. Since Brazil is acting on constituent feedback, it’s time for St. Charles County cyclists to flood their representative inboxes with complaints about dangerous traffic on county roads and demand controls on the motor vehicles creating the hazards. Anybody driving 55 mph on a 2 lane road when the corn is more than knee high is driving too fast for safety.
St. Charles County is probably not the only county in America where people are complaining about more cyclists being on the roads.  Whether they're riding for recreation or using their bikes to get from A to B, cyclists are becoming more prevalent as people get more conscious about health and how driving isn't the way to stay healthy.  And people also want to avoid paying for gas - whether because of financial reasons or ethical reasons .  There are plenty of other reasons.  

So perhaps what needs to happen is for cyclists to go on the offensive.  Perhaps cyclists need to badger their government representatives with complaints about road quality, speed limits being too high, dangerous drivers' habits, what have you.  Take the momentum away from the motorists who are complaining about our presences and let our government officials know that we, as taxpayers who pay for roads, have a right to operate on the roads safely and completely, regardless of whether someone painted some lines and a picture of a bike on the road.

If we're able to flood our officials' offices with calls about what WE find dangerous about our roads, we can take the upper hand and let those officials know that 1) we're out there, 2) we have rights to the roads, too, 3) that we vote for our officials just like everyone else, and 4) that safety for everyone is more important than motorists being inconvenienced for whole seconds at a time!  And we'll take some of the wind out of the sails of the motorists who are complaining about us by turning the tables on them, in a way that's likely to get things done.

Thoughts?

People, not speed.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree but the last thing politicians-administrators want to hear is from complaining cyclists who are already considered as "freeloaders". How often do you hear auto drivers claim that the "road is ours, we pay the taxes and license fees"?

    It's a sad state of affairs for the USA as a lack of education now dominates the public realm. The continuing belief that our expensive infrastructure (designed mainly to support Happy Motoring) fails to be financially sustainable doesn't want to be heard either. Polls show that 76% of Americans refuse to support a politician that supports higher taxes-fees-tolls that are more in line with the true costs.

    Meanwhile simple, reliable, less expensive, and self dependent alternatives, like cycling, are vilified by elected officials as this story proves.

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