Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Why conservatives should like bikes
I think cyclists get annoyed when they read conservative opposition to bike lanes and paths because biking is essentially a conservative activity:
--Not dependent on government operating subsidies? check.
--Thrifty and frugal? check.
--Reduces dependence on foreign oil? check.
--Utilizes existing capacity on existing roads? check.
Our current transportation system is extremely inefficient. Single-occupant cars clog the roadways at rush hour, wasting everyone's time, and creating the need for roads to be re-built with more lanes to accommodate the peak traffic volumes. However, those extra lanes are wide open at all other times of day. Transportation economists consider that an inefficient use of a public good. In fact, if you think about the amount of government spending on roads, you could say that single-occupant cars at rush hour are the beneficiaries of massive governmental spending programs.
The Milwaukee bike plan doesn't make that point. It simply wants to offer options so that people might actually choose to bike because it would be safe and easy to do so. As one of the commenters on the MacIver blog pointed out, the plan is not taking away anyone's option to drive, or even making it more expensive to do so. All the plan is asking for is a measly $450,000 annual allocation from the City tax rolls for maintenance of bike infrastructure and new projects. (In 2009, the City of Milwaukee budgeted more than $74 million for streets, alleys, sidewalks, and bridges).