- Seven Conservative Reasons to Love Bicycling (StreetsBlog)
Sometimes Liberals can be incredibly stupid. Angie Schmitt is the poster child for this syndrome. She decides to muse about the fact that what is essentially a cost saving solution to government spending is being pushed aside by the very folks who should be on board:
On the face of things, it’s hard to understand why would anyone oppose bicycling. It’s cheap, it’s healthy, it’s good for the environment.
Somehow, though, cycling has become politicized, and it’s the party of personal responsibility, austerity, and small government that tends to carry the anti-bicycling banner.
That’s odd, writes Bill Lindeke at Network blog Twin City Sidewalks, because bicycling aligns so well with core conservative principles. Lindeke, in his latest blog post, lists seven reasons to love cycling from a conservative standpoint. We’ll share just a few:
Bicycle infrastructure is a great way for the government to save money. Conservatives are always talking about “wasteful government spending,” but for some reason don’t view freeway and road infrastructure as part of the problem. A single stoplight costs more than $3,000 per year to maintain and operate. (And huge projects like the unnecessary $600M+ bridge to rural Wisconsin being built right now in Michele Bachmann’s district should make fiscal conservatives cringe.) Bike lanes and trails are extremely cheap and last a long time, one of the best values for government spending you’ll find.
Another conservative mantra is the notion of personal responsibility…
Well, bicycling around the city is literally pulling yourself up with your bootstraps. (It’s actually pushing yourself forward with your feet, but its pretty much the same.) Find another form of transportation (other than walking) that contains more personal responsibility. When I’m riding a bike, nobody or nothing is going to get me to the top of that hill except for my own limbs. The bicycle takes the conservative metaphor of individualism and independence and literalizes it, makes it real.
Of course, Lindeke says, the real reasons we so often see politicians from the right side of the aisle taking stands against cycling has less to do with ideology, and more to do with appealing to particular political constituencies.
Elsewhere on the Network today: Mobilizing the Region reports that transit riders Connecticut and Long Island appear to be at elevated risk of getting hurt while walking. Flat Iron Bike notes the opposition to micro-apartments in Seattle. And Delaware Bikes explains how the state catapulted from lowly number 31 to ninth place in the Bike League’s bike-friendly state rankings.
The Urban Cycling Movement has boxed itself in on its own accord. Note that I say “urban“. All you have to do is read the threads on the largest of the Urban Cycling Internet Forums (Chicago ChainLink) and it becomes crystal clear that Urban Cyclists think the suburbs and the GOP voters in them are a vast wasteland of isolation and desolation. And to cap it all off anytime a fundraising ride is held at night in Chicago, the ChainLink’s Midnight Marauders are there to try and make the experience as unmemorable as possible. I know this first hand.
But wait. There is much more. Urban Cyclists are constantly wringing their hands over the lack of diversity within the movement. But when Blacks show up to speak at conferences for Women the Dykes-on-Bikes gets ugly because had the audacity to suggest that women use decorum in their dressing styles when riding a bike. My guess is that a lot of Black women would wonder at such an over the top response. And quite a few African-Americans (especially those who strongly identify with both proper dress techniques and are church goers are indeed GOP sympathizers) so that kind of disrespect does not earn you kudos from the more conservative members of the Black Community.
Another big “no-no” is one that I fully understand as being a non-starter and that is the insistence that Europeans be our models when it comes to building infrastructure. We are an automobile-centric society. My guess is that we always have been and will continue to be so well into the future. We built massive highways when no one else on the planet knew how or could afford to do so. Those highways are the routes to driving vacations for individual families each year and for the remainder of the time are the arteries of commerce between states. Yet the Urban Cycling Movement has made no bones about the fact that they despise automobiles.
Conservatives are nothing if not appreciative of creature comforts. They do not like body piercings or tattoos on balance and they certain do not like public displays of nudity. So guess what the Urban Cycling Community decides to put on display, themselves!
No wonder the Dykes-On-Bikes crowd thinks that suggestions to dress modestly are offensive. Heck everyone knows that an overweight Lesbian riding alongside a blubbery over-the-hill Queen is the best way to show your solidarity with the Earth.
When Social Engineering types get over themselves and their so-called “lifestyles” perhaps, maybe perhaps things will become more diverse. But for the moment the “wild things” are in charge. And that appears for the foreseeable future to be the case. We will have to hope and pray that “normal people just trying to get to work and not interested in evangelizing the world” come out in overwhelming numbers that drive away the “kooks“.
In the meantime organizations like StreetsBlog would do well to find writers to act as a counterweight to Ms. Schmitt. Her style of writing and manner of thinking might play well in San Francisco but Middle America ain’t buying her bullshit.
And So You Hate Cops Too?
A hallmark of Conservative thinking is “obeying the law“. Conservatives make a fetish of this practice. You cannot join most Tea Party groups without swearing allegiance not just to the Constitution but their understanding of it. So just imagine how “scofflaw behavior” plays in these circles?
Then couple all of this with the fact that on a monthly basis Urban Cyclists get together for something they call the Critical Mass Ride (CMR). Admittedly it is tamer than it was a decade or so ago, but the edginess is still there. Now couple this with the fact that the CMR makes a deliberate attempt to rile drivers by blocking streets as they pass through intersections while shouting things at the drivers designed to enrage them. And then ask yourself why the hell is Ms. Schmitt baffled at the disconnect between Liberals and Conservatives when it comes to Cycling.
You cannot hide the fact that at its heart the Urban Cycling Movement is largely Anti-Establishment. When the war protests went away in the 60s and the Civil Rights Movement as well, counter-culture types went in search of their next challenge. They found Portland. And when it was learned that the Critical Mass Ride movement there had been infiltrated the CMR was dropped.
Since that time what are really not Liberals so much as Radical-Leftists have had little to celebrate with the exception of the occasional G8 conference and the now defunct Occupy Wall Street Movement. So once again how it is that Conservatives are supposed to disassociate the Cycling Movement from the Urban Cycling Movements “bad-ass personnae“, it can’t.
The Genie Is Out Of The Bottle
Cyclists have allowed this sort of lawless behavior to exist for a decade or more. It is only of very late that a city like Chicago has had the gumption to say “enough is enough” and to get the Ron Burke-driven Active Transportation Alliance to at least give “lip service” to the idea. But that won’t last because the Movement will marshal its forces to find yet new ways to remain as “counter-culture” as possible believing that to be the most authentic mode.
Cycling Advocates should know what every parent of spoiled brats grown up to be teenaged have discovered for time immemorial that once a brat always a brat and they will raise their own brats when the time is ripe. Live with your mistakes and do not blame others for your lack of parental control. This is all on you!