This weekend, while riding on a county road with a 4-foot shoulder, I was called a ‘hippy,’ along with a number of words unsuitable for family consumption, by a dude in a large SUV-like vehicle.
The chief point of his out-the-window rant was that as a ‘hippy’ on a bicycle, I had no right to use the roads, and I am not a proper tax-paying citizen of this fine state or nation.
Beyond the simple fact that I was in a 4-foot shoulder, and thus really not in anyone’s way to start with even were I NOT legally entitled to road use, the economic argument against bicycle road use is perhaps the one I dislike most.
Myth: Cyclists do not contribute to road upkeep and maintenance.
Fact: Only part of the funding for road construction and maintenance comes from vehicle taxes and gas taxes. Much of the rest comes from state and federal general funding. Anyone who pays income taxes contributes.
Myth: We build trails so bikes don’t have to be on the road.
Fact: Trails are built for many reasons, including pedestrian and recreational use. In many cases, those trails are really rotten as options to do anything non-recreational, as they do not connect shopping hubs, employment hubs, and residential hubs.
Myth: Only people who can’t afford a car bicycle commute.
Fact: Don’t underestimate the incomes of some of those spandex-clad warriors or those who bicycle commute as a lifestyle choice, either — beyond looking at their incomes, their equipment isn’t always especially cheap, and does carry sales tax at purchase. Some studies suggest that cycle commuters have higher educational attainment than the median.
Plus, even if someone is on a bicycle because they can’t afford a car (or gas), that bicycle is their means to work and contribute economically, and should be encouraged.
Myth: All bicyclists are hippies.
Fact: I showered twice yesterday.
When stuck in a debate with some of the people espousing these views, none of the above work as arguments. At such moments, I like to point out that Gatorade is an American product, and that by buying $3/gallon gas, they’re enriching the Middle East, and the terrorists, and don’t they love FREEDOM?!? Heh.