Cyclists are the new enemy of right wing politics

Part of a complete street
CC BY 2.0 Bike lanes are part of complete streets / Lloyd Alter

Jordan Michael Smith writes in the Boston Globe about how Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is a visionary.

Ford reserves special venom for the menace called the bicycle. He is perhaps the most antibike politician in the world. In 2007, he told the Toronto City Council that roads were designed for only buses, cars, and trucks. If cyclists got killed on roads, “it’s their own fault at the end of the day,” he said. He compared biking on a city street to swimming with sharks—“sooner or later you’re going to get bitten.” He once summarized his views in City Hall succinctly: “Cyclists are a pain in the ass to the motorists.”

He is not alone. There's Dorothy Rabinowitz in New York and Dan Maes in Colorado.

Rabinowitz’s deeper cavil is that bikes represent an assault on American freedoms. Her description of the bike lobby as an “all-powerful enterprise” might sound a little breathless, but is echoed elsewhere. Dan Maes, a Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2010, declared efforts to boost cycling to be “part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty.” When Rush Limbaugh suggested that injured bikers deserve what they get, it was because they’re victimizing auto drivers by forcing them to yield to others.

Maes is referring to Agenda 21, which as TreeHugger has noted before, promotes bikes as a way of getting rid of cars. Quoting Rosa Koire:

Bikes. What does that have to do with it? I like to ride my bike and so do you. So what? Bicycle advocacy groups are very powerful now. Advocacy. A fancy word for lobbying, influencing, and maybe strong-arming the public and politicians.... High density urban development without parking for cars is the goal. This means that whole towns need to be demolished and rebuilt in the image of sustainable development. Bike groups are being used as the 'shock troops' for this plan.

In the end, it is "just another proxy battle in the American culture wars."

In this respect, Rob Ford isn’t just a mess. He is a visionary—perhaps the first candidate to win an election in part by fanning public annoyance at those reckless, entitled, tax-and-spend bicycle riders. As new bike lanes make their slow incursions into downtown traffic patterns, it’s reasonable we can expect more such victories. It might seem frustrating for bike supporters, but there is one consolation: In politics, you get attacked because you matter.

More in the Boston Globe.

Meanwhile, the IRS goes after cyclists.

Last year, congress increased the amount of money cyclists and car poolers could claim as a tax free benefit to be the same as what drivers got for parking. Guess what Congress didn't bother renewing.


Tags: Agenda 21 | Bike-Friendly World | Bikes | Bike Sharing

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