With all the rush to have the Governor rescind his orders to delay the Protected Bike Lanes until data is made available some things are getting lost in the shuffle. Illinois is in woeful economic shape and every politician knows this. For that reason there is a rush on to get money spent in places and on things that probably could stand to be delayed.
We need both sanitary and water infrastructure as much or more than we need Protected Bicycle Lanes. That is simply a fact. Without those two we cannot support the population we have and its expected growth just over the horizon. Groups like Active Transportation Alliance are living proof that you can see your funding dry up with every election cycle. If there is a failure to produce a critical mass of bicycle infrastructure their viability as an organization decreases. You do not need fundraisers to lobby Congress on the next iteration of the transportation bill if Sequestration has hit and everyone is reeling from the effects.
Fat chance that pretty green bike lanes are going to be very high on anyone’s radar when military spending has just taken an enormous hit and veterans now out of jobs are returning home to fewer than expected. There are in fact many, many more important issues that both our state, city and nation face than whether or not 7,000 Chicago cyclists get new protected bike lanes.
We Keep Hearing About The Rightness Of Our Cause
Every time Active Transportation Alliance sends out a clarion call to ring the phones of some politician or overload his email inbox we keep getting remind of several truths:
- Small businesses love bicyclists because we visit more often and stay longer
- Providing these pretty green lanes will triple or quintuple the number of folks riding bikes
- With all the new riders that means greater economic activity and everyone wins
- Automobile drivers and pedestrians are literally wetting their pants at the increased safety brought to everyone by pretty green bike lanes
- Hospitals are considering shutting down trauma wards in anticipation of the reduced carnage on the roadways
- Traffic cops are considering moving to the homicide squads since that sector has seen increasing demand
- So much money will be saved by reducing traffic fatalities and increasing overall safety that at least 20% less money will be needed for sanitary and water infrastructure replacement
- Bus drivers unions are so worried that the number of new cyclists will result in the closing of some bus routes and the curtailing of others
- Seniors are rapidly filling up the elective surgery wards to get knee and hip replacements in anticipation of riding in subzero weather on icy streets in the middle of winter, just because they feel safer
- Hookers have organized to protest the protected bike lane craze because it will mean they will no longer be able to provide “curbside service” in many areas
- The League of American Bicyclists has opened a counseling center for LCIs who no longer have a captive audience in schools and businesses their value having been eliminated by pretty green lanes
- John Forester has taken to strong drink as a way of consoling himself during the long winter hours now that Vehicular Cycling has been completely abandoned as a survival strategy in urban areas
- Suburbanites will decide to move back into the city (despite the increased gun crime rates) because pretty green lanes are that enticing
- The Midnight Marauders and the Critical Mass Ride leadership have laid plans for a last group gathering as hundreds of thousands of suburban Lycra-clad cyclists take to the streets each weekend, just lookin’ for a bit of fun
- Gun smugglers will be buying hundreds of cargo bikes in anticipation of the Bloomingdale Trail being a wonderful way to bring in straw-purchase weapons for sale not just on the South and West sides but now the North side as well
- Winged monkeys will be flying out of our butts at the sheer delight of having entire stretches of crumbling pavement re-striped as protected bike lanes without the knowledge of the church-going residents in the area
- ChainLinkers will of course be ready to blame the local aldermen for any and all failures of these lanes to catch on with people who have no use for them, especially not as a substitute for church parking
- StreetsBlog “bigots” will continue to pontificate on the rightness of the pronouncements of the High Priests of the Church of Urban Cycling and make quick turnaround videos of the same pavement sections to give the impression that all bike lanes have sound pavement
So What Exactly Is The Truth?
Don’t know about you but all but one of the things mentioned above is certain to happen. But clearly ChainLinkers are split between wanting to be Obedient Cycling Sheep and knowing the truth about the state of things. I guess we will have to wait until the next installation of “Kick the Governor” and forget to ask the hard questions of the folks at City Hall about why things appear to be mismanaged. Of course we really should defer to the good reporters at StreetsBlog to tell us the next bit of truth about why Jackson Boulevard is built without right turns in mind. Maybe the next attempt will involve blaming the whole mess on the former governor of Alaska and her political shenanigans. I don’t know. I’m content to wait and see. I got some additional chapter to reread in Effective Cycling.