Photo via UberGizmo
I've always been amazed how much opposition simple ideas like promoting bicycling in urban areas receives. After all, what on earth could be wrong with a program that allows residents to rent bikes at multiple locations around a city as a means to conveniently get around -- and get some exercise in the process? Evidently, more than you and I could possibly imagine. The GOP candidate for governor in Colorado has recently attacked the mayor of Denver for instating a successful bike-sharing program, saying that it's part of a nefarious plot to put the city under the control of the UN and to strip citizens of their freedoms. Come again?Here's the Denver Post reporting:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are "converting Denver into a United Nations community."Thank goodness Dan Maes has uncovered this conspiracy. Just imagine it: A world where people commute to and from work by bicycle, or Gasp! take a bike ride around the city just for fun. People would be in better shape, the air in the city would be cleaner, and congestion relieved around the roadways. Never mind that this nefarious bike-sharing program consists of 400 bikes, and is funded largely by private investment -- it is the beginning of a communist apocalypse!
"This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed," Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial. Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor's efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes "that's exactly the attitude they want you to have."
"This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms," Maes said. He added: "These aren't just warm, fuzzy ideas from the mayor. These are very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to.
I am truly and honestly amazed by the idiocy of Maer's statements. I would happily sit and listen to Mr. Maes explain how 400 bicycles available for rent in Denver are part of a plot to strip people of their freedoms -- and then I would point out to him that all bike-sharing does is increase a person's freedom to choose their mode of transportation. Nobody has to ride the bikes, put they're there if you'd like to.
Of course, Maer probably is well aware that there is no such plot, and instead is trying to stoke fear and angst amongst the GOP base against the liberal hippie types that are likely perceived to be enjoying the bike-sharing program. It is truly unfortunate, as Matt Yglesias points out, that simple transportation policy -- and something that provides people with an opportunity to live more convenient, healthier lives -- can be transformed into a baseless culture war.
More on the Evil Plot to Help Americans Share Bicycles
Washington DC Bike - Sharing Program Getting 10x Bigger!
Surprise! UT First To Electrify Bike Sharing in the U.S.
San Francisco to Get Bike - Sharing Pilot Program in 2009