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WSJ needs to learn to share the road with bicyclists

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Another columnist at the Wall Street Journal has opened up his box of crayons and scribbled a piece that subtracts from the sum of human knowledge. This time it's about bicycles.

The author is P.J. O'Rourke, a branded conservative humorist. I've never thought his writing was all that funny, but I'm generally not a fan of writing with that political bent.

In this piece — “Dear Urban Cyclists; Go Play in Traffic” — he spews about bicycles and how they don't belong on the roads. At issue is the increased installation of bicycle lanes around New York City. They take up room that should be reserved for automobiles, you know.

Satire?

At one point, I thought he must be using his skills of satire to mock the arguments put forward by reactionaries who write those ill-informed letters to the editor about bicycle use in urban areas. The article makes all the false points as one of those anti-bicycle rants.

But he never delivers the punch line. He must be serious.

Maybe the WSJ wants to get out front on this pro-bicycle conspiracy. Instead of using their tools to investigate white collar crime and malfeasance, they're giving us articles that make fun of folks who do their small part to fight global climate change.

Size doesn't matter

For instance:

“Almost everything that travels on a city street, including some of the larger people in the crosswalks, can crush a bicycle.”

That's not news to bicycle riders. That's why many favor the slight protection that bike lanes give us. If size matters in transportation, should small cars get off the road when O'Rourke's big Chevy Suburban looms into sight? And shouldn't he pull off the road when a big rig lumbers past?

“Bicycles are the perfect way to go nowhere while carrying nothing.”

Not funny and not true. Bikes can go just about anywhere and they
carry people. Add a pannier, backpack, trailer or cargo bin and they can
carry other stuff. They might not be ideal for every trip, but they're
the most efficient for most short trips for which people usually rely on cars and SUVs

Bicycles and taxes

“Bike lanes violate a fundamental principle of democracy. We, the
majority who do not ride bicycles, are being forced to sacrifice our
left turns, parking places and chances to squeeze by delivery trucks so
that an affluent elite can feel good about itself for getting wet, cold,
tired and run-over. Our tax dollars are being used to subsidize our
annoyance.”

“Affluent elite”? I'd like to tell that to the next guy I see riding his bike home in the dark after working the late shift as a dishwasher at Denny's.

“Our tax dollars are being used to subsidize our annoyance”? Someone's got to educate O'Rourke that everybody pays taxes (except the General Electric Corp. and Wall Street moguls who can afford tax attorneys), even bicyclists. The taxes to build and maintain roads do not solely come from gasoline taxes. Not even close.

Share the road

“… violate a fundamental principle of democracy. We, the majority who do not ride bicycles, are being forced …”

Here, O'Rourke sounds like his Tea Party buddies who say “We want our country back!” Instead, O'Rourke wants his roads back.

Well, it's not their country, it's our country. And they're not his roads, they're our roads. P.J. is just going to have to learn how to share.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2011/04/02/wsj-needs-to-learn-to-share-the-road-with-bicyclists/

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