War On Cars? Don't Sweat Emissions or Congestion

Take a breath and count to three.  Or in this case, somewhere around 170,000...  I think I've calmed down enough to comment now.

The interwebs are buzzing about John Mc Carron's op-ed piece; Chicago's War on Cars.  Some cyclists and motorists are engaged in the usual and predictable battles over who belongs on the road.  Others are actually debating facts in a very civil manner.  I encourage everyone to read through all of the comments.

I'm a cycling advocate, so my position should surprise no one.  For the record, I don't own a Castelli Sorpasso bib tight cycling suit  and I suspect there isn't a single city bike commuter who wears one.  Performance cycling gear such as this is excellent for when one's heart rate is revved up into Zone 5 in a race or training ride, but it's not necessary for getting from point A to point B.   Just thought I'd shoot that red herring out of the barrel...

Evidently, we're a country that likes to wage war on, well, just about everything.  Nations with different forms of government.  Terrorists.  Drugs.  Cancer.  Women's health.  Civil Rights.  Christmas.  If we frame something as a war, there can only be the righteous crusader and the despicable, dehumanized enemy.  Or the indignant victim...

Is this really a war on cars or an honest assessment of a city's transportation needs for the future?    Can a city like Chicago continue to function while levels of air pollution and congestion continue to rise?  Should we dismiss, out of hand, any solutions that might make some of us physically or financially uncomfortable?

Seems to me, there was a time in this country when a war effort called for everyone to make some form of sacrifice for the greater good.

This isn't a war on cars.  Framing it this way makes motorists out to be the victims - a vulnerable group oppressed by a tyrannical government.   Rahm The Terrible hates us for our freedom of mobility...

This is a war on declining living conditions.   It's a war against air pollution and the health issues toxic emissions exacerbate for everyone.  It's a war against congestion and all the precious time, effort, and energy it wastes for everyone.  It's not a war against anything other than the negative consequences of our own selfishness.  And Mc Carron makes it sound like cyclists are the only ones with egos...

We've seen the enemy and the enemy is us!

Rather than continuing on in our tax subsidized stupor, wearing out the roads, bitching about gridlock, and wondering why we always feel stressed out or seem to be putting on weight, we might want to ask ourselves "could I be doing something differently to solve this problem?"  What might I sacrifice - other than my tax dollars - to help win this war against the negative effects of air pollution and congestion?

Can I ride the el or take the bus instead of driving?  Can I take Metra in from the 'burbs?  Can I walk a couple extra blocks?  What might make this faster and easier for me to do?

Can I ride my bike on neighborhood trips?  Is bike commuting an option for me?  Would I take advantage of a bike share program if I felt safer riding in a protected or dedicated bike lane?  What might make this a better option for me?

Gabe Klein has offered a blueprint for relieving congestion, reducing emissions, and making the city safer for those who choose to walk, bicycle, and take advantage of public transportation.  It deserves scrutiny, like every other policy proposal.  But it's a forward looking proposal that no longer ignores the elephant in the room - the negative consequences of automobiles.

"But who among us has the time, stamina or ego to ride a bicycle to work?" Mc Carron asks.

Apparently, not him.  He hasn't even considered that a bike could be a faster way to commute.  Even if riding a bike took a little longer, he doesn't acknowledge that it would save him time on a machine at his health club that ironically, simulates the health benefits of riding an actual bicycle.  In a double irony, he would develop the stamina he's missing...

I firmly believe that bicycles are a solution for nearly everyone.  Riding a bike gets you out in the fresh air, exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide and emitting sweat instead of harmful carbon gases.  Bicycling strengthens your heart and helps fight metabolic syndrome.  It can help you lose weight.  It can also relieve stress while letting you feel like a kid again.

More bikes on city streets means less cars, less congestion, and less air pollution.  A better bicycling infrastructure makes it possible for more people to choose an alternative that seeks to solve the problem, not perpetuate it.  It's money well spent on everyone's future.

In this war, you're not being asked for your blood or your tears, only your sweat.

Are you willing to make this personal sacrifice to fight air pollution and congestion or would you rather just pay for it with your hard earned cash?

 

For followups to this post, click here for The Cyclist's Ego and here for The Bicycle and The Reusable Shopping Bag.   You can like my Facebook Fan Page by clicking on the box below my bio.

I appreciate all of your comments!

 

 

Comments

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  • Great post, Brent! We'll win or reframe this war yet!

  • great post!

    i don't think it should be framed as a war at all! no one needs to die, there aren't any enemies, and i'm not wearing camo anything.

    about the spandex: clearly it's not necessary for riding, and that kind of hyperbole and flagrant propaganda are the kind of flags that mark McCarron as an unreasonable fool.

    on ego: he has a point. the majority of cyclists on the road today don't respect traffic laws, and that keeps us a fringe sect instead of a viable alternative to the status quo. getting cyclists to respect the rules of the road makes the whole road safer and eases the us vs. them rhetoric that prevents new cyclists from taking the road.

  • In reply to R. Vance B.:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    I think Mc Carron might be mistaking ego with courage. Whether I ride in the loop or on heavily trafficked suburban roads, I feel that I'm putting my ego on the shelf because I no longer am in charge of my own destiny. I pedal forward in complete denial that my life is in the hands of whatever distracted driver randomly encounters me. It takes courage to get in the mix with vehicles with 20 - 100 times the mass of me and my bike.

    There is a difference between being assertive - taking your rightful place in the lane of traffic - and being arrogant. I really don't think most motorists understand the difference, especially if they are unfamiliar with the three foot rule and our right to ride in the center of the lane (including turning lanes). We're just another source of annoyance to them.

    I never make excuses for other riders - I witness their dangerous behavior and shake my head about the risks they are taking and the impression they're leaving. Their behavior is definitely contributing to our battle (sorry if I have to use that word) for public acceptance.

    Bottom line; dedicated infrastructure will encourage more riders. More riders will create greater visibility and hopefully, greater acceptance by the motoring public. This level of animosity toward cyclists doesn't exist in the Twin Cities or Madison where the culture is more attuned to sharing the roads with bikes.

    In the meantime, they'll be plenty of controversy for me to keep writing about...

  • In reply to Brent Cohrs:

    Sorry, but I can't agree with you about our "right" to hog the center or left lane. Legally, we may have that "right," but this does not MAKE IT RIGHT. Being in other people's way and slowing them down is selfish, inconsiderate behavior. No one has the ethical or moral "right" to do this.

    If I'm driving or riding a vehicle --bicycle, pickup truck, old car, it doesn't matter-- and I know that my vehicle is slower than the others on the road, it is my RESPONSIBILITY to stay out of their way. If this means pulling over and letting people pass, then so be it. If it means taking a longer time to make left turns at intersections, so be it. If it means stopping to wait behind buses or parked cars to make sure the coast is clear before I jut out into the street, then so be it. If it means I take a longer time to reach my destination than I'd hoped, then so be it.

    My alleged moral superiority does not give me the "right" to be inconsiderate of others.

  • In reply to jazzmanchgo:

    I guess that's where you and I will have to agree to disagree.

    I believe that if cyclists are protected, rightful road users, they should be able to move away from the right hand edge of the lane if confronted with obstructions just like any bus, truck, car, or other vehicle would. If it means being the 15mph vehicle in the 30mph speed zone until the obstruction clears, that's really no different than a car stopped in traffic waiting for a parking space or making a left hand turn.

    The same holds true for using the left turn lane. I can usually clear an intersection from a dead stop faster on my bike than in my car. Plus, asking a bike to cross the intersection on the right, stop, wait, and cross the intersection again is implying that a bike must follow pedestrian rules of intersection crossing.

    I think the single biggest complaint of both pedestrians and motorists is when cyclists choose whichever set of rules is most convenient for the situation. It's better and safer to have cyclists always follow the motorist rules than have exceptions that will not only confuse the cyclist, but the motorist as well.

    Patiently waiting for the slower moving people in front of us is just part of sharing the road.

  • I ride a bike for exercise every day, but because my job requires me NOT to show up sweaty, I also drive.

    Unfortunately, the way I see a lot of my fellow cyclists behaving makes me ashamed to admit that I ride a bike. I see them failing to stay to the right (hogging the middle of the lane and/or the left lane), and then giving the finger to drivers who have the temerity to not appreciate being unneccesarily (and arrogantly) slowed down; cruising down the wrong side of the street against traffic; riding without using their hands (usually with an arrogant sneer on their face); and in general adopting an attitude of "F__ you, I'm better than you so I can get in your way." I once flashed my lights at a cyclist who was stubbornly riding in the middle of the lane; he SPAT on my car when we arrived at the intersection.

    Sorry, fellow cyclists, but being morally superior doesn't give you carte blanche to be inconsiderate of others. Until this attitude is changed, this so-called "war" will show few signs of ceasing.

  • In reply to jazzmanchgo:

    "... but because my job requires me NOT to show up sweaty, I also drive"
    that's weird, the CEO of the company i work for bikes in to work (and meetings around downtown) from about April to September. he's not usually sweaty. maybe your "bike for exercise" activities have had an effect on your biking style, you might be moving too fast for the purposes of commuting. i don't usually sweat on my bike unless i'm running late and mashing the pedals pretty hard.

  • In reply to jazzmanchgo:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    Where do you ride your bike for exercise? I either ride the forest preserve paths or the less trafficked roads near my home in the northwest 'burbs. While they seem like two opposite places to ride, I don't vary my cycling technique on either.

    When I'm on the road in the 'burbs, I follow the rules of the road to the letter - staying as far right as safely possible, signaling turns, signaling intentions, stopping at stop signs and stoplights, using the left turn lane to make left turns, etc. With so few bikes on the roads, I make sure I'm seen while I assert my right to be on the road.

    When I'm on the path, I ride more like I'm driving. I call out to walkers walking two abreast "bike on your left". I slow down when I see a mother pushing a stroller or walking alongside a kid on a bike with training wheels. I slow down and call out several times when approaching someone walking a dog. Sure, it slows me down and interrupts the pace of my ride, but that's what happens when you share.

    My point is this; each of us is responsible for anything smaller or slower moving than we are. If a bike crosses over to the left turn lane in front of my car, I slow down and let him. I don't honk, rev the engine or flip him off. If a mother meandering along the path with her child cuts in front of me while I'm moving at 15mph, I don't keep pedaling and buzz her stroller or cuss her out. I always yield, slow down, or stop for the slower moving traffic in front of me.

    I won't make any excuses for riders that are disrespectful or rude to motorists (or ride dangerously). Unfortunately, they do give all cyclists a bad name.

    I can't guarantee it, but if you treat a cyclist riding in the same direction as you are (riding against traffic is inexcusable) with courtesy and respect, he probably won't treat you rudely. If you make it a point to correct him, all bets are off!

  • I live in the city, work in the burbs. My office is nowhere near public transportation. I drive to work, but my car is parked all weekend when I am walking, biking, or publicly transporting around the city. I have to drive my car during the week, but enjoy not using it at night and on weekends. Automobiles are unfortunately a necessity, but not necessarily needed all the time. I do see people that live on my street, driving their car 8 blocks to pick up a coffee and a paper, and its not considered an unusual occurence.

  • Madison, the Twin Cities, and also South Bend. None of which are Chicago. Also, I think the animosity goes both ways, not reserved to motorists.

    I do think you are right though, its an infrastrucutre issue. I was in Munich this spring, and the dedicated roadways, bike paths, and side walks were amazing. A model like that would be fantastic.

  • In reply to GrantM:

    Thanks for commenting!

    I sometimes think that the animosity is just part of the stress of living in this area. The Twin Cities are just a much smaller version of this area. My experience with the people there is that they are more courteous (on the expressway and the surface streets), less hurried, and more into outdoor activities. You should see how many people bike commute in sub 20 degree weather!

    The infrastructure in the TC's makes it possible for so many people to ride bikes for both transportation and recreation. Hard to say if we had more bikes on the road here if the animosity level would drop, but I'm all for giving it a try!

  • I live in the city, so that's where I take my morning bike ride -- anywhere from eight to ten miles, down North Avenue and up Pulaski to Belmont and then back again. It usually takes me between a half hour and forty-five minutes -- after that, I shower and have breakfast and go to work. And yes, I agree with you about following the rules of the road. In fact, I go a little further -- I'll wait behind a parked car until the coast is clear, before jutting out into the lane to go around it if there are cars coming.

    I can't remember the last time anyone honked a horn at me.

    As for "each of us is responsible for anyone going slower . . ." Well, gotta qualify that one. People going SLOWER are responsible (ethically, if not legally) for not getting in others' way. That means to move to the side, even stop to let people get by if necessary. And this applies to pedestrians, folks walking in hallways, or (of course) drivers going slow in the left lane, as well as bicyclists.

  • In reply to jazzmanchgo:

    Very true about the personal responsibility for not holding up others intentionally (or carelessly) . Unfortunately, people who do that when they are walking, riding, or driving usually seem to be completely oblivious to how their behavior impacts others!

  • p.s. By the way -- when I say "pedestrians," I'm not talking about crossing at intersections; I realize that pedestrians at intersections have the right of way. I'm talking about people walking on sidewalks, usually two-threee-four abreast, slowing down folks behind them, not even bothering to look around to see if they're in anybody's way. There's plenty of selfishness going on everywhere, not just on the roads.

  • "This isn't a war on cars. Framing it this way makes motorists out to be the victims - a vulnerable group oppressed by a tyrannical government."

    So you want to frame it differently, the TRUTH (in your own mind).

    "Rahm The Terrible hates us for our freedom of mobility..."

    Utterly ridiculous and near-paranoid and megalomanic. You're a superior person who uses the excuse of saving the planet to feed his own egoa and everyone else is terrible. Right.

    "It's not a war against anything other than the negative consequences of our own selfishness. And Mc Carron makes it sound like cyclists are the only ones with egos..."

    Of course it's not your ego. You REALLY are on a noble holy mission to save us from ourselves. Could you possibly be more pompous?

    The more I read of this nonsense, the less sympathy I have for cyclists, which wasn't much to start with.

  • In reply to Nate Whilk:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Sorry you failed to pick up on both the hyperbole and the sarcasm.

    Cycling is not for everyone. You don't have to agree with our enjoyment of it or even acknowledge the benefit it provides. Please respect our rights to share the road and give us three feet of clearance when you pass.

    We're people, just like you...

  • "I firmly believe that bicycles are a solution for nearly everyone. Riding a bike gets you out in the fresh air, exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide and emitting sweat instead of harmful carbon gases. Bicycling strengthens your heart and helps fight metabolic syndrome. It can help you lose weight. It can also relieve stress while letting you feel like a kid again."

    And they help you get fewer cavities, make you wealthy, famous, and irresistible to the gender of your choice, and you get sainthood before death. Geez.

  • In reply to Nate Whilk:

    Again, thanks for your comments. If anything I expressed in my opinion is factually incorrect, please feel free to disprove it with cited sources.

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    Thanks, we do have a strong habit of over "using" words. To bad, it's not: I'm sorry, Thank You, Pardon Me...

    Like the suite analogy. See more of that on the weekends and rarely on women, shame....

    The only thing I ask: What happen to wearing something someone can SEE. Your dressed in BLACK at NIGHT w/a blub on your head and you expect me to see you at 30 miles a hour. A little help here...

  • In reply to John Feeney:

    Thanks for taking time to comment.

    There's plenty of cycling gear out there that is reflective, as well as some very powerful lighting options. Good suggestion for another post!

  • For those whose lifestyles and employment situation makes riding a bicycle to work and around the neighborhood possible, by all means do so. And yes, you have a right to be on the road. That said, I'm a bit tired of all the self-rightious breast beating about the evils of an automobile dominated society and the obvious benefits of bicycle riding. Autos are here to stay, like it or not. Yes there are jerks on the road. however they are on all forms of transportation.

    As a bicyclist you unfortunately are at a physical disadvantage and that disadvantage does increase your risk of injury. But a bicycle has other disadvantages. You can't ride a bike and do weekly groceries for a family of four. If you are in a profession that requires a mode of dress that goes beyond jeans and a tee shirt a bicycle is not a good alternative mode of transportation. And let's not even talk about the limitations of riding a bicycle in bad weather.

    As drivers we do need to be mindful of cyclists. They have a legal right to be on the road and we should obey the laws, which I would wager most of us are ignorant of. Bicyclists have responsibilities here as well. You want to be on the road, then follow the rules of the road. Stop running red lights and stop signs, signal your intentions. Don't weave between cars in traffic. Most of all stop using inflammatory rhetoric just because the rest of the world doeasn't see things your way. I'll respect your choices if you respect my choices. Just because we drive automobiles does not mean we don't take other actions to reduce our carbon footprint.

    .

  • In reply to ztn0426:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    All very good points, especially about "inflammatory rhetoric". As cyclists, we're constantly defending our right to be on the road and in the process we do sometimes tend to overplay the "moral superiority" card when it comes to environmental benefits. I don't want to imply that if you're not a cyclist, you're not doing your part. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • "Riding a bike gets you out in the fresh air, exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide and emitting sweat instead of harmful carbon gases."

    Exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide? What exactly do you mean by that vague statement?

  • In reply to StoneE4:

    Just a little shorthand explanation of the cardiopulmonary system, sorry if it was misleading or confusing;
    "Deoxygenated blood from the heart is pumped through the pulmonary artery to the lungs, where oxygen diffuses into blood and is exchanged for carbon dioxide in the hemoglobin of the erythrocytes. The oxygen-rich blood returns to the heart via the pulmonary veins to be pumped back into systemic circulation."

  • In reply to Brent Cohrs:

    A simple statement such as "in regard to respiration" would have sufficed.

    On to the second half of that sentence, "emitting sweat instead of harmful carbon gases." In an earlier comment you said, "If anything I expressed in my opinion is factually incorrect, please feel free to disprove it with cited sources." Do you really need me to cite sources disproving your statement that riding a bike emits sweat "instead of harmful carbon gases"?
    I'm under the impression, perhaps mistakenly, that elementary school students are taught the fact that carbon dioxide is produced through human respiration.

  • In reply to StoneE4:

    I certainly could have said that better.

    Maybe, large levels of harmful carbon gases?

    I don't think there's anyone out there that believes a sweating cyclist is creating as much of an emissions issue as the tailpipe of a gas-burning vehicle.

    Thanks for staying after me.

  • "I firmly believe that bicycles are a solution for nearly everyone."

    And therein lies the problem. 1) It's not 2) You and the government don't get to decide what the right solution is, though the government is constantly trying to encourage certain behaviors by misallocating resources in the way they see fit. Hence we have given up a lane of traffic on 18th street that is compressing auto traffic into one lane so that the bicycle lane can remain empty and Rahm Emanuel (who I actually like) can appear fashionably green.

    The fact of the matter is that there are numerous reasons why people won't ride bikes: the weather, physical limitations, time.

    And BTW, on the way to the airport yesterday my cab almost hit two cyclists at two different intersections within 3 minutes of each other because they attempted to run red lights.

  • Gary, thanks for replying.

    The allocation of resources to encourage / discourage certain behaviors is a very debatable topic. I'll weigh in with this; everything has a cost. Whether it is paid by the consumer or the taxpayer, today or at some point in the future, it still has to be realized.

    If congestion increases and air quality decreases, the real costs in lost productivity and increased healthcare expenditures will eventually have to be paid. Acknowledging that this is a problem now, the government either has to create a fund to pay it later, lower the future costs through present day behavior modification, or some combination of both. Pretending it won't ever happen and waiting to pay for it when it reaches crisis stage is the more costly approach.

    Dedicated bike lanes (complete streets solutions) need to be built to encourage more bike use. With each car that's replaced by a bike or a public transportation user, air quality improves and congestion goes down. Without the infrastructure changes, the city can't offer alternatives to those who would like to voluntarily help solve the problem and eventually, the problem grows and ends up costing every taxpayer more - even those who were willing to help in the past.

    Cycling isn't for everyone (although everyone's individual health can benefit by riding a bike short distances whenever possible), but discouraging or dismissing the option for everyone limits solutions other than tax increases.

    As for individual cyclists who run red lights - they aggravate me, as well. I won't defend their actions (nor do I feel I should have to since nobody asks me to defend all of my bad fellow motorists).

    We can all share the road, and that's pretty much what I blog about. We're all citizens, we're all taxpayers, and we all require transportation. We should all have the freedom to choose the option that best fits our personal needs, yet reflects the true cost to society for our choice.

  • In reply to Brent Cohrs:

    It's not at all clear that total system cost is reduced by reallocating roadways to bicycle lanes. No one can do that math. However, if you re-allocate the lanes and there is no additional bicycle usage then it is clear that total costs have gone up. So in the end we have to make a judgment call as to what we THINK the outcome has been and frankly I don't expect there to be any appreciable increase in bicycle usage and when I see an empty bicycle lane on 18th street and auto traffic slows down I know for a fact that total system cost has gone up for that street - and pollution has gone up as well.

    If the government wants to reduce auto traffic they need to make sure that there are no subsidies for auto transportation and that all costs are covered by gasoline taxes. In addition, it wouldn't hurt for Chicago to raise street parking rates downtown. Supply is still less than demand throughout major sections of the city. Try finding street parking on Wabash in the middle of the day.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    Gary, you make some excellent points.

    I agree with your point about reducing auto traffic by eliminating subsidies and funding it entirely through the gas tax. That makes the total cost visible to the user. Whether it's prudent in these economic times is another topic for discussion. It is, after all, another regressive tax on lower income individuals. Those in rural and even most suburban areas wouldn't have another transportation option so it would just end up coming out of a food, clothing, or housing budget.

    As far as "doing the math", you are right, that is impossible for anyone to calculate at this time. There needs to be a massive public relations effort to encourage both public transportation and bicycling as acceptable options. The good news is that there are plenty of examples of bike commuting success stories nationwide. The one I look to most is the Twin Cities. It's far colder there than here and they have a strong year-round cycling community. It's do-able, it just takes promotion and education to kick it into gear.

    What do you think of Metra? I can't believe that it has only gone up 22% since I rode the train in the mid to late 80's. It's a bargain! With gas prices triple of those days, parking easily tripled, and more congestion on our under-capacity expressways, it seems like the best value for getting to and from the loop. Obviously, this is heavily subsidized and I personally believe we could raise rates quite a lot and not lose ridership.

    It's a pleasure discussing this with you in this forum!

  • In reply to Brent Cohrs:

    Well, I don't believe in any subsidies. I think ticket prices should fully fund public transportation. When businesses are subsidized you end up with a misallocation of resources. I think heavily subsidized public transportation has encouraged people to live farther from their jobs than makes sense and ends up subsidizing low wage industries - e.g. waiters and waitresses can afford to live farther from their jobs at a lower cost so they are willing to work for less.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    I agree with what you're saying, particularly about Metra. When I was a college student, my Metra station had plenty of open parking and the few cars that did park there were mostly second-car beaters. Today, parking is scarce and the lot is full of really nice cars and SUVs. Taxpayer subsidies have made Metra an unbelievable value!

    I've often wondered why the Metra board hasn't realized this and raised rates / decreased subsidies accordingly. Gas to drive downtown alone is double the Metra rate and that doesn't factor in parking, maintenance, and 2 hours plus of lost productivity each day.

    I can't really comment on the CTA as I don't know its cost structure or the extent that it is subsidized to provide coverage to every neighborhood. As you pointed out before, parking could be raised because the demand continues to outstrip the supply. There is definitely a fair market balance there.

  • One thing that would help make much of this entire discussion moot would be a more viable, reliable, and well-funded public transportation system. But that, of course, would probably mean a few extra tax dollars contriuted to the public good. And in Tea Party-era America, that's called "socialism."

    One thing I would like to point out, though (and, again, I speak as a sometime bicyclist myself) -- too often, bicycle "purists" seem to forget that not everyone is young and healthy, or otherwise physically able to ride a bike in all (or any) weather. That last driver you just flipped off or cut off might well be using the only transportation he or she has the physical ability to use. And, once again, better buses and trains would help to solve that problem.

  • In reply to jazzmanchgo:

    Good points.

    I believe in the freedom to choose the transportation that fits the individual's needs, abilities, and budget. That said, I think that in order for individuals to make the best informed decisions, ALL costs associated with his/her choice needs to be attached to it. I personally feel we subsidize cars too much (indirectly) and public transportation too little.

    I consider myself an enthusiast and an advocate, but I'm not a purist. I'm a realist. Do I believe that most people are capable of riding bikes short distances in good weather? Yes. Do I think they will? Probably not. Will an incentive work? Maybe. Will a disincentive like an increase in gas taxes and parking (to represent the true cost to society)? Most likely more than just infrastructure and encouragement.

    First and foremost, I would like to see Share The Road education become mandatory for all road users - motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Once that's implemented, you'll probably see a lot fewer single-fingered saluters and a lot more empowered cyclists on the streets. From there, we can tackle the environmental and economic issue more realistically.

    Thanks for keeping the discussion alive, civil, and interesting!

  • In reply to jazzmanchgo:

    See my comment above regarding subsidies. Bad idea.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    Gary, see my reply to your other comment.

    As I stated, I don't know enough about the subsidies that go into the CTA. Politically, I'm Progressive and am very concerned about the regressive nature of taxation. With declining wages and diminished employment opportunities, the last thing we can afford to do is punish the lowest wage earners with tax increases, especially when a more affordable transportation alternative can't be offered.

    In an employer's market like we have now (and will likely have for some time to come), we, the taxpayers, need to find a way to recoup the costs for providing an educated and accessible workforce. It's amazing how all of these things become inter-related.

    Thanks again for the comments!

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    One thing that strikes me, reading this thread a month after it transpired, is that there are commentators who go on and on about subsidies being bad when referring to public transit and even the city painting stripes on roads for bike lanes, while missing the point that we all heavily (VERY heavily) subsidize streets for cars in a lot of different ways -- a lot more than the other forms of transit combined. Imagine of someone proposed making the roads self-sufficient by putting an IPass scanner on every block? Or by making the gasoline tax realistically cover ALL costs of the roadway systems?

  • In reply to Scott Stelzer:

    Scott, thanks for coming back. You are spot on with your comment about cars being subsidized. Of course, there are some that would ask you to provide a link...

    Much of what you said reminded me of what happened to LA in the 30's and 40's and the virtual disappearance of their public transit system, courtesy of GM. I was about to search for relevant links when I found a blog post from yesterday that features three GM videos (available on YouTube) that show the public relations campaign that went into convincing Americans that the future was in cars. Give this a view; http://www.copenhagenize.com/2012/01/future-isnt-here.html

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