Bicycles: the new conservative enemy

The rise of bike-sharing programs has created an unlikely new target in the culture wars

The spoke club

Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

In the 1980s, the conservative humourist P.J. O’Rourke wrote “A Cool and Logical Analysis of the Bicycle Menace.” He was joking. In 2013, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz said, “the bike lobby is an all-powerful enterprise” and the presence of a bike-sharing program in New York was an example of “the totalitarians running the government of this city.” She wasn’t joking. Rabinowitz’s widely discussed appearance on a Wall Street Journal video, which was picked up by many news outlets and The Daily Show (“Slow down, lady, they’re just bikes!” Jon Stewart exclaimed), did more than draw attention to complaints about the effectivness of the Citibike program, New York’s attempt to compete with the bike-sharing in other cities such as Paris and Montreal. It made people aware of just how hostile some conservative commentators are to bikes.

Rabinowitz was hardly the first conservative pundit to express scorn for bicycles and the people who ride them. One of the most-publicized recent bike-bashers was Don Cherry, who showed up to meet Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in 2010 wearing a loud pink shirt, explaining: “I’m wearing pink for all the pinkos out there riding bicycles.” Popular southern California radio host John Kobylt, an opponent of plans to build more bike lanes in Los Angeles, recently explained that cyclists are members of “a bizarre cult that worships two-wheel transportation, not a traditional God.” And Rush Limbaugh, the leader in conservative radio punditry, has always been willing to tee off on the pesky pedal-pushers: “Frankly, if the door opens into a bicycle rider, I won’t care,” he once said. “I think they ought to be off the streets and on the sidewalk,” where bike riders aren’t actually allowed.

Why would bicycles become a political issue? Partly because things like bike-sharing programs are often placed in opposition to cars and the people who drive them. Lloyd Alter, an adjunct professor at Ryerson University’s school of interior design and the managing editor of TreeHugger.com, says conservatives sometimes associate bikes “with environmentalism and anti-capitalism. Bike riders live in denser places, don’t go to big-box supercentres, lead a suspiciously different lifestyle.” The political splits in cities are often strongest between urban areas and the suburbs or exurbs, and that pits suburb-friendly transportation, mainly cars, against more “urban” vehicles such as bikes and light rail.

So just as conservative politicians such as Ford have often won votes for their support of the automobile against non-traditional transportation, conservative pundits often stick up for suburban car drivers in the culture war, and portray bicyclists as elitists. Kobylt, cited by The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf as a practitioner of “the paranoid style in bicycle politics,” told his listeners he fears that cyclists are trying to make him feel like, “I’m second class because I drive a car, or I have a commute to work, or I live in a suburban neighbourhood.” Journalist George Will, a prominent opponent of trains, also mocked then-U.S. secretary of transportation Ray LaHood for his support of biking: “Does he think 0.01 per cent of Americans will ever regularly bike to work?” Will sneered. Alter says that, to some pundits, cyclists are “a powerful force trying to squeeze cars off the road,” and “every advance by the cyclists is seen as an attack on the suburban way of life.”

But just as there are plenty of liberals who drive SUVs, there are plenty of conservatives who contradict the bike-hating stereotype. Nicole Gelinas, a contributor to the conservative urban policy magazine City Journal, published an article about Citibike that, while critical of the program, also tried to counteract some of the stereotypes about it: “Despite fears to the contrary, especially among the elderly,” she wrote, “bike share won’t harm pedestrians.” Still, as bike-friendly conservative radio host Mitch Berg told the Utne Reader, “people on both sides of the political aisle do ascribe political significance to biking.” Or, as P.J. O’Rourke put it all those years ago, “I don’t like the kind of people who ride bicycles.”


Bicycles: the new conservative enemy

  1. This comment was deleted.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • Immigrants to Canada have higher educational levels than Canadians born here.

        • Show us your source Emily.

          • Your link also discusses whether or not these highly educated immigrant’s education meet Canadian standards. Foe example, does a medical degree from Egypt or Nigeria meet the educational requirements here in Canada?

          • So?.

          • So I guess you wouldn’t mind someone whose training is far below the Canadian standard working on you or a loved one in the ER. I’ve seen these people in action in their own countries and I for one only want trained professionals who meet North American standards working on me or my family.

          • Bob…pay attention.

            Those are regulated professions, and not allowed to practice in Canada unless the governing body allows it, after exams

            Said so right on the page I posted.

          • Emily, read between the lines. Many “highly educated” immigrants are no where near North American standards in education and training. Therefore they may be educated on paper but in practice they are at and probably remain at a third world level of ability.

          • No Bob….no ‘reading between the lines’. Each province has a College of Physicians and Surgeons that license doctors ….and they are strict past ridiculous. They have their own little job protection plan going which is why we don’t have the number of doctors that we should.

            And before you get carried away on the nonsense about ‘North American standards’ you should know that western standards aren’t any better than elsewhere….and that medical people make huge amounts of mistakes here, in the US and in the UK.

            Put the racism away Bob….Canada needs a million immigrants between now and 2020, and not getting them is doing major damage to our country.

          • Speaking of mistakes: It’s “huge numbers of mistakes”, not “huge amounts of mistakes”.

            I agree with you though, if that’s any consolation. :)

          • Our much-vaunted North American standards in education and training still failed YOU with respect to spelling and grammar, however.

            “no where” should be “nowhere”.

            Last sentence: Should be a comma after both “at”s.

            Brush up, Bobby.

          • I can’t say it’s representative, but it certainly changed my perspective when a surgeon (of non-NorthAmerican ethnicity) botched the excision and stitches, leaving me with far more scarring than was strictly necessary for the procedure, which I only discovered after researching more afterwards.

          • No, it’s not remotely representative and you know it.

          • Having worked at the Medical Council of Canada, which is the organization that performs medical licensing tests so that doctors can become actual medical practitioners, I can assure you that most immigrant “doctors” from 2nd/3rd world countries are NOT up to par with our system. Many also are so poor at English that even if they have the medical knowledge, they lack any ability to communicate with a patient.

          • The Medical council is one of the requirements, yes. And lots of people don’t pass….so that was an irrelevant post.

          • OhOk. You really are willfully ignorant. Just wanted to make sure.

          • Here ya go, Einstein.

            ‘A pass standing is required on both the QE Part
            I and the QE Part II in order to be awarded Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada. LMCC is recognized by the 12 medical licensing authorities in Canada, and is one of the requirements for the issuance of a license to practice medicine in Canada’


          • You just lost all credibility when you chose to use Wikipedia as a source.

          • LOL no I didn’t Darwin….references, citations, papers whatever….are all listed at the bottom of a Wiki site.

          • What is “non-NorthAmerican ethnicity”? You mean someone other than an aboriginal?

          • Whats a “North American ethnicity”? Do you mean you are not American Indian.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • When I want to purchase British jewelery I comb through Canadian discussion sites.

  2. The problem with the bike share programs is simply the costs that, as per usual, those of us who pay taxes are supposed to blithely pay without regard to our own needs. For the same initial outlay as the start-up costs of BIXI, the city of Montreal could have simply bought a new bicycle for anyone who needed or wanted one to get around, and avoided the millions of dollars per year in ongoing losses. You can buy a decent bike for less than $200.00. BIXI Montreal’s annual losses could buy 17000 good bikes.
    Then there is the added issue of taxation. Motorists pay road use taxes of several cents per kilometer driven, which varies based on fuel economy. A bicycle pays no road use taxes, yet utilizes the same infrastructure, nor are they required to carry liability insurance, even though simple logic dictates that cyclists would be at fault in somewhere near half of all collisions between bicycles and cars.

    Like most “progressive” schemes, BIXI is based upon the assumption that the inherent “goodness” of a deeply flawed idea deems it worthy of untold sums of money confiscated from the pockets of the taxpayer. These schemes invariably siphon money away from the things we willingly pay taxes for- roads to allow us to engage in lawful commerce, hospitals to heal our sick, and schools to teach our children how to read and write and do the math necessary to understand that the only real “sustainability” of any venture is profitability. If a venture cannot sell it’s goods or services for more than the cost of producing or providing them, then it is unsustainable.

    That, my friends is why we oppose bike sharing “schemes”.

    • I have to disagree Bill. I own a car and pay my taxes. My choice to ride my bike does not eliminate my contribution to the roadway infrastructure. Besides, the road costs are subsidized and if you consider road damage and kilometres traveled, I pay more for my share than those who choose to ride their vehicle all the time.

      • You’re dead wrong on “subsidized roads.” Taxes paid by motorists are diverted to pay for buses, light rail, and other public transit initiatives while potholes go unfilled and road infrastructure is allowed to crumble. Remember, 40% or better of all fuel costs are taxes. A safe bet is that every car on Canadian roads pays $2000/yr in road use taxes, That’s what, $40 billion per year?
        Most of the federal taxes on road use are fiddled away on routine federal stupidities, while some provinces are now dedicating all of their gas tax revenue back to roads, but because federal taxes outstrip provincial, and gasoline has a finite market value beyond which higher prices via taxation offer zero return, provinces often have to use funds from general revenues to pay for transportation infrastructure. This is still a positive return on investment as bad roads inhibit commerce, and commerce pays for EVERYTHING.
        One of the beauties of the private automobile is that it never goes anywhere when not in use, while buses and LRT’s run empty laps all day and night except for those peak periods at rush hour. Those long hours of under-utilization absolutely beat the snot out of any passenger/mile energy efficiencies. Plus, the guy who drives my car never goes on strike. That aside, why should I, as a motorist or a motorcyclist, be obligated to carry liability insurance under penalty of forfeiture, in order to use the public roads when bicyclists are exempt?

        • There are many who argue that drivers (and like Marty, I drive and bike) who do not pay the full cost of infrastructure when everything is taken into consideration (e.g. http://www.progress.org/cobb01.htm). I’m amazed to consider how much of my town is devoted to cars in one way or another (roads, parking lots, parking garages), plus emergency services responding to accidents, the costs to the economy of those accidents, etc. etc. And there are the broader societal costs of pollution.

          As for insurance, you’re right that mathematically cyclists should be at fault for approximately half of accidents. However, the amount of physical damage that they inflict is infinitesimal compared to that of a car. If a bike and a car collide, there’s less damage to the car than that of a typical fender-bender or rear-ender (how often are cars totaled in relatively minor accidents?). And the cyclist is much more likely to suffer a serious injury to boot. Demanding insurance coverage so I can cover the nick on your car when you hit me (whoever’s fault it is) is adding insult to injury, perhaps literally.

          • But what if the cyclist hits my car and sets off the airbag, which can easily happen, and the cyclist is at fault? Or, simply smashes into a fender and the resultant damage is $1000 or $1500? Why should I or my insurance carrier have to ante up? Besides, any damage not my fault is, by definition, a financial injury to me, and should not be borne by me. This actually quite fundamental in nature and is exactly why motorists are compelled to carry insurance.
            Secondly, the issue of how so much of our cities and towns is devoted to cars is similarly fundamental. Getting to and from work is an act of commerce. The roads that have sprung up around our desire to live apart from our work are a form of societal evolution. It has come about not because we demanded it, or were sold on it, but because we have chosen it. Conversely, though, urban planners have resisted the idea of having modern industry locate near the places we live. The manufacturing plant I worked in for 15 years has nice residential housing not 100 yards from the back door. In spite of it being clean and quiet (manufactured downhole oil pumps), no urban planner worth his degree would ever let that happen in this day and age, yet lots of us lived nearby and walked and biked to work.
            I don’t give a rat’s backside if people ride bikes. I do give a rat’s backside about being compelled to pay higher taxes for infrastructure that is simply window dressing for “progressive” idealism.

          • the only time a cyclist is going to trigger your car’s airbag is when you turn left in front of him. Get real. BTW who pays your damages for a hit and run? Everyone: Is that fair?

          • Sorry, but there are far more scenarios than that. Allowing or even encouraging uninsured cyclists to share space with cars and motorcycles that are compelled to carry insurance actually encourages bicyclists to flee the scene if they damage a motorists vehicle. I just don’t see the upside to things like bike lanes when many of our cities have nice bike paths.
            Besides, which plan do you think would have the greater chance of success here: A) Putting a small number of bikes on the road with a large number of cars, where an unintended interaction between the two will likely result in an injury or death, or B) Putting a small number of cyclists on the sidewalks and paths with a modest number of pedestrians and where an unintended interaction has far less likelihood of serious injury or death?
            Any answer other than “B” is probably wrong.

          • I don’t know where you live and drive but the last thing Downtown Vancouver needs is more cars

          • The upside to bike lanes? If there isn’t one, and the only way for me to ride safely is to take the lane, then I am going to do just that. Now picture that times 2% of the entire commuting populace. I can’t imagine how this is in your interests.

            The only taxes that pay for municipal roads are property taxes, something we all pay. Those of us who preferentially ride a bike are subsiding YOU not vice versa.

          • Actually cyclists on sidewalks is dangerous for cyclists. It has to do with the line of sight for motorists, how far motorist pull out of driveways / alleys (most do not stop at the driveway side of the sidewalk and instead go fully across the sidewalk before stopping at the street edge), and the speed at which an average cyclist travels. Although the speeds maybe decreased the severity of injuries maybe quite serious because the type of fall is usually a stopping one (EG cyclist is bombing along the sidewalk, motorist pulls out to the street side of the sidewalk without looking, cyclist’s bike hits the car, cyclist is now potentially airborne and hits either the car, or sidewalk on the otherside of the car). Stopping falls are the most serious type of fall, and can result in death.

            I am not certain there are statistics which will support the statement “even though simple logic dictates that cyclists would be at fault in
            somewhere near half of all collisions between bicycles and cars.” This is like saying (my apologies for the inflamatory example but I haven’t been able to come up with another one right now) well, there are two genders (men and women) and there are domestic disputes, therefore women should be at fault for somewhere near half of all domestic disputes between men and women. Most people would say that is ridiculous (mainly because the stats show otherwise). So just because there are accidents between motorists and cyclists, does not mean the “at fault” is proportionate. It is best to look at the actual statistics themselves.

            I personally do not own a vehicle, never have. I do have a drivers’ license, but personally never saw the sense in owning an item that costs a great deal, loses value rapidly, and requires that significant more amounts money be added to operate and maintain it each year. I am not anti-car (but Car-free), I use public transit, walk and cycle, car-pool and would love to participate in a car-share program. I do pay taxes – a portion of which goes to maintain infrastructure where I live. But the wear and tear on roadways due to motor vehicles (heavy mass, larger physical footprint) compared to that of bicycles (much lighter mass, smaller physical footprint) is significantly different.

            Bill, you have some strong held views (this can probably be said
            about me too), which I believe discussions like these will have very little influence. Studies show that Cyclists fair best when treated as traffic (Effective Cycling by John Forrester). My challenge to you would be sign up for a Can-Bike 1 & 2 course, get out on a bike and see the world from a cyclist’s perspective. Then see if you still hold the same views.

          • Excellent advice, deanlah!

            Billiam, I can’t wait to see your skinny arse tucked into some sweet biker spandex while you get all “sweated up” on your way to wherever it is that you will hate biking to.

          • I’m quite convinced you have never, ever ridden a bike in your life. You should try it sometime. You’ll get where you want to go much faster and enjoy it a heck of a lot more than sitting in a metal box. You should thank all those cyclists out there for making your commute to work shorter… imagine how much longer it would take you if all of us took an empty car to work everyday! Then you would complain that we need more roads…

          • The number of miles I’ve ridden in my lifetime would go well into 5 digits.

          • Yes Bill, scenarios exist where bikes damage cars. However, most bike-car accidents end up with minor damage to a car and a dead/badly injured cyclist.

            You suggest that bikes should drive on sidewalks or paths. Riding on a sidewalk is technically illegal where I live, as it is in many places. Sidewalks are supposed to be for pedestrians. So you don’t seem to want cyclists on the roads. It’s illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk. And don’t bike paths or lanes fall under the infrastructure that you resent paying higher taxes for? So where does that leave us? You say you don’t care if people ride bikes, but your arguments backs cyclists into a corner.

          • It is indeed illegal for cyclists to use the sidewalks, and personally I hate that. I bike regularly but drive over longer distances where I need to carry something, and honestly the other drivers out there are f’ing crazy. One careless clip of my handlebar and I’ll fall down into the path of following vehicles. I feel MUCH safer on a sidewalk, and have no problem changing my pace to safely pass people on foot. Saying what’s illegal or what’s supposed to be is just a reinforcement of status-quo. Laws can be changed. Dead cyclists, not so much.

          • Bill, you completely blew it with the cyclist triggering the deployment of your airbag argument… If you really believe that, then you are a lost case and no sane argument will ever make ypu back-off the load of insanity you’ve been spewing here!

          • If you did your homework you would be aware that since the advent of airbags, there has been a rise in the number of injuries to motorists in what would, in the past, have been non-injury accidents, due to airbag deployment. This is due to the fact that you can’t engineer out the possibility of inadvertent deployment in low speed collisions. Software advances are slowly eradicating the issue, but we have millions of cars on the road that can still potentially kill their owners with federally mandated safety devices.

          • OK, Bill you can stop proving my point, over and over! I promise not to go throw myself in front of your car just to punch you in the face with your airbag… promised! 80)

          • Really? What about seat belts – are you one of those think that people are better off without them? There are people that have been injured by seatbelts…

          • I’m fine with seat belts. Airbags are a different matter. If you look into it, you will find that the original airbag deployment specs, as envisioned by Washington DC lawyers, called for the ability to protect a 95th percentile male driver from any injury in a 40 mph barrier crash. The Detroit engineers (who would have a little more knowledge in this area) told Congressional hearings that this would endanger the lives of all women drivers. The DC (and Ottawa) lawyers carried the day. After all, they reasoned, what might automotive engineers know about the crash worthiness of the cars they build? Besides, everyone knows that Detroit puts profits ahead of people.

            Flash forward a few years, and emergency responders were beginning to notice a disturbing trend. Female drivers were being severely injured and even killed in what would otherwise have been mild injury accidents. Even non-injury type accidents were leaving broken arms and facial bones in their wake. (Think about a low speed collision in which a motorist turning left is impacted by another vehicle while the driver’s right arm is across to the left while turning the wheel in an airbag deployment.) In Boise, Idaho, a young girl was decapitated by an airbag deployment that left the car relatively undamaged.

            Public outcry, which the regulators successfully shifted in the direction of Detroit (which begs the question: Detroit hires the best ad agencies in the world. How come they can’t utilize these ad agencies to campaign against some of the absurd and often conflicting regulatory burdens that govts. heap on motorists?) led to a re-vamp of airbag deployment standards, which are now more in line with what Detroit proposed initially.

            But, that still leaves millions of cars on the road, saddled with airbags built to a spec that can, and will, continue to maim and kill female drivers in what should be non-injury and low-injury accidents. Bonus fact: As the newest of these cars are now about 15 years old, that safety risk is increasingly shifted to low income individuals.

            And you people wonder why I loathe governments.

          • If a dented fender costs you $1000-1500, you’re getting ripped off. I agree the cyclist should have to pay if they’re at fault, but that’s up to each person to acquire the offender’s information and hold them accountable. We have a court system to deal with it if they refuse to pony up the cash. We don’t need to burden every cyclist with paying insurance just to cover the insecurity of a few bad/careless apples. The way collision ideally should work is your insurance carrier covers the upfront cost minus deductible for your repairs, then the insurance carrier takes it out of the cyclist’s hide later on. You buy coverage from them on the gamble that something will happen, and that they’ll cover it. That’s the game. If something happens that’s not your fault, they’re on the hook anyway. Collision insurance is just like any other policy where you’re asking for a buffer if anything happens to your stuff. Motorists being compelled to carry only applies to liability insurance, which contrarily only covers your butt if you screw up to someone else. In general, the potential dangers posed by motorists are very life-threatening to others. The lifetime cost to another person for altering their livelihood can be enough to more than wipe any person out, hence the requirement for insurance to the tune of $1 million and up. A cyclist on the other hand is not likely to be the direct cause of a life-changing injury. I suppose you could argue that if someone oversteers to avoid the cyclist, and then becomes paralyzed in the crash, then it’s the cyclists fault, but then you could have not oversteered, crashed into the cyclist, and it would still be the cyclist’s fault, except the cyclist is the one needing coverage, not you. In which case, they would have been wise to secure for themselves long-term disability, AD&D, or life insurance.

          • Had the box side on a pickup replaced lately? That’ll set you back $3K. Door skin? $2 G-notes. 2 airbags? 2 grand plus.. If a 200 lb man on a bike slams into the drivers door of your car at 15 mph, and your car is equipped with side airbags, your insurance company is on the hook for 8-10 grand even if you were not at fault. Body shop labor runs to $120/hr and more. I’ve had body work done, and yes, a dented fender can easily run $1500 depending on the car.
            The question I’ve asked is simple. Activism from a certain quarter are demanding that the public roads be re-vamped in order to accommodate greater bicycle usage. Given that motorists, motorcyclists, and commercial carriers are obligated by law to carry liability insurance in order to use these roads, is there a compelling reason why bicyclists should not be obligated to do the same in order to use these special bike lanes? The same applies to the requirement for vehicular registration.

          • Bicycle licencing and registration does pop up as a local issue periodically, enough that the City of Toronto has a page on its website about it. The last few lines state why they’ve declined to reinstate the licencing system that they ended in 1957 – mainly red tape and expense.


            Bill, your comment history on other threads makes it clear that you are not a fan of government, big, small or otherwise. For instance, you stated your belief that the gun registry enriched only federal government employees. How is this any different? Registering bicycles would be just as hard, if not harder, especially given that kids ride bikes and there isn’t even a rudimentary foundation to build on.

          • But that’s the Gordian knot in these “progressive” schemes. Tiny factions make big noise demanding something from government, i.e. bike lanes, in spite of there often being perfectly good alternatives such as bike paths. Red Deer has miles of bike paths, and virtually every foot of our million dollar bike lanes has a parallel or alternative pathway nearby. So then, why would we encourage the cyclists to utilize the bike lanes which would serve to make them more prone to be involved in collisions without mandating insurance? This is compounded by the outright lies used by the bike lane proponents to encourage the project in the first place.
            Now, back to BIXI. Here we have a service created to meet a suuposed demand. The demand is either lower than expected, leading to severe operating losses, or the market value of the service is less than the cost of delivery. Is the delivery cost too high because all of the employees of BIXI are unionized government employees? Quite likely, but now, some taxpayer is on the hook for life to pay the wages and benefits of these people, because we know that there will be a manned Jupiter landing before these people lose their jobs, even if BIXI is shut down. Is the delivery cost too high because of the rampant Mob-connected corruption in the Montreal public sector? Again, quite possible. Is the market smaller than anticipated because the BIXI proponents grossly overstated the financial prospects, knowing that, unlike bankers, the governments they approached for funding would not demand personal guarantees or other security against the financing? Instead, BIXI was likely sold as an “image enhancing” project for the city, much like $500 million dollar arenas are always going to make a city have cleaner air, fresher water, wider streets, and greener grass.
            And who gets to pay? Not Quebecers, ’cause they don’t pay taxes. They spend taxes that are imposed on Canadians who conveniently don’t live in Quebec.
            Here’s the rule I’d like to see as far as governments go. Let’s freeze all government spending. Flat freeze it. From this point forward, any and all increases in any government spending must be approved by a two thirds majority of those who show up to vote. Plus, municipal employees can’t vote in municipal elections, provincial employees can’t vote in provincial elections, and feds can’t vote in federal elections. Nor can they electioneer, so that they can’t impose themselves upon public fiscal policy, Most of the dumb crap like BIXI, springs from the minds of people too stupid to get a job in the private sector, and they champion it because they incur no financial risk should it fail.
            Again, do you honestly think a bike share program, whose operating losses could purchase thousands of bicycles annually was even remotely researched, costed, planned, and implemented in a diligent fashion? Not even close.

          • Well Bill, this shows as a reply to my comment, but we’re not really talking about the same things anymore. I’d like to see BIXI work but it’s having trouble. They can keep it going or pull the plug, whatever. Red Deer bike lanes, same thing.

            Final comment. My tax dollars are just as virtuous as yours and I’d like some paved shoulders to ride my bike on so I can enjoy a relative measure of safety when getting some exercise. And asking for that doesn’t make me a commie.

            If I’m ever riding in Red Deer, I’ll try to stay out of your way and you try not to hit me.

            Interesting talking to you.

          • BIXI, bike lanes, etc., are all symptoms of a major problem. Someone invents a problem in order to invent a new way for govt. to fix it. There was no need (obviously) for a rent-a-bike scheme, but a govt. entity was created to fill it. There was no need for any bike lanes, but city workers were tasked with filling that need. No thought is ever given to the downsides or risks because the people behind them live in a risk-free world. None of them ever lose their jobs or their homes because their big plan didn’t work and it gets tiresome fending off ever more meddlesome, wasteful, and intrusive government.
            Now, if we were to get into the habit of sacking and looting the legislature a little more often…

          • On that topic of a gun registry, there’s not a really huge point. Criminals aren’t going to register guns, and regular people aren’t realistically able to legally keep anything small and concealable. The big distinction in news reporting on that issue is whether the media chooses to call it “gun” registry, or “longgun” registry. The latter purely targets farmers and hunters, and again does nothing to stop a criminal element. In my opinion, the whole thing is just a waste of money inspired by one case of a guy going nuts in Quebec when he felt the system was unfairly discriminating against him. However, it’s not very politically correct to discuss whether his rationale had any legitimacy. The activist entities with remote association to that event have used it to push their own agendas on other people.

          • I brought up the gun registry only because Bill, whose comments on other threads indicated a steadfast opposition to the gun registry, was proposing a bike registry. That’s it.

          • That’s fine. I’m not contesting that. It’s just another interesting topic, and hey “while we’re on it, blah blah blah my $0.05”.

          • Those aren’t the same as a dented fender on a typical eurasian import. I can confidently claim that the work involved in replacing a steel fender on one of those shouldn’t run more than $400. If you’re going to start replacing other more complicated parts, then yes it very well may cost more, but a simple steel fender, no. The warehouse cost to have one brought up from the US will be about $200-250 including duty and taxes. The labour time should be less than 1 hour at about $100-150/hour. Pop off the trim panels, unbolt the old fender, bolt on the new one, pop the trim back in. Your original post referred to “car” and “fender”.

            As far as revamping public roads for bikes, I’m rather in agreement with you, and I bike regularly. If they’re going to revamp anything, give the bikes a straight segregated edge of the sidewalk that keeps them away from cars. Interestingly enough, this is almost exactly what’s scheduled to be done with the segregated bike lanes in Ottawa when they’re next due for maintenance — raise the bike lane to be part of the sidewalk. The potential cost of life in that type of interaction is just too great to risk. The argument people give about people backing out of laneways is not really the fault of the cyclist. If you’re backing out of a laneway, you’re not supposed to gun it and brake hard right before entering the roadway. You’re supposed to back slowly until you have a clear line of sight in both directions. In that situation, the driver cutting off or running into a passing cyclist is clearly at fault, in my opinion. Using that as a basis to argue the cyclists back into the street is just compensating for irresponsible drivers.

            The argument about insurance is a non-starter in my opinion. Mandatory vehicle insurance applies to liability only, as in “this covers your butt if you fnck up and severely hurt someone”. The degree of damage that a cyclist is capable of is not so extreme that it can’t be individually handled. The courts are already capable of dealing with small claims, so insurance would just be a value-add gimmick for people who want the buffer. It’s nice to have for those who believe they need the buffer, but it’s not “necessary”, so there’s no real cause to force it on people. The issue of the requirement for use of roadways is only because that’s territory under provincial jurisdiction. The legal liability is still in effect even if you’re not using the roads when an accident happens, and again the requirement is not due to usage like a fee, but due to potential danger and ensuring coverage that goes beyond what society via the government deems appropriate responsibility to entrust to an individual when the extent of that coverage in the majority of cases exceeds the net worth of most people. Provision of bike lanes is just done by the cities as a way to facilitate their measure of “better” transit for all parties involved. They pay for it much the same way they pay for sidewalk renovations, as it’s much the same general category of users. Drivers tend to be traveling over greater distances and may not even be coming from the same jurisdiction, so they wouldn’t directly be paying that city without being forced via parking or tolls. I think this is generally why the city mostly only pays directly for small interconnecting roads while highways are handled on the county or province level. Vehicle registration is also a very separate issue. It’s a measure of tracability to hold someone accountable for the actions taken by that vehicle and to facilitate them to enforce compliance with safety or environmental standards. This is rather unrelated to the responsibility to pay for the right to access the roadways.

          • I know I should feel pity for you, innocently sitting in your car, being accosted and rammed by hordes of cyclists, multiple airbags exploding and causing grievous bodily harm to you. And oh, think of the children! My heart goes out to you; you poor downtrodden motorist.

          • He’s not even right mathematically.

            Consider.. two cars are driven, one by someone who’s fully sighted, one by someone who’s blind. Bill’s argument is that “mathematically” the sighted driver should be responsible for half the accidents that occur between them. It’s complete bollocks.

            Cycle riders have
            1. No blind spots.
            2. No ability to text while driving.
            3. No ability to drive while half asleep, doing their makeup, looking up their sales presentation in the briefcase beside them, be getting a blowjob while driving, etc,
            4. Much less speed (which means more time to correct for accidents)
            5. Much more at risk (which means heightened awareness)

            To think that cyclists are therefore responsible for half the accidents that occur between them and motorists is simply ignorant hogwash.

          • …and roughly one third of the cyclists killed or injured while biking are impaired. In over 35 years of driving, I’ve had several near misses with bikes. Probably a dozen. A solid ten were the biker’s fault. Of those, five would have resulted in a fatality but for the grace of God. In the two that were my fault, they would likely have been injury collisions.
            It’s worth relating that on two separate occasions, cyclists intentionally pressed the limits of right of way in order to prove a point, that being that a motorist is usually deemed at fault in a bike-car collision until an investigation proves otherwise. Sure, I could have allowed the collision and killed them with no legal consequences. Instead, I risked a collision with another car, and watched the cyclist give me the finger and ride off.

          • I don’t get your point here. That you’ve had some bad experiences with cyclists on the road? All drivers, whatever the vehicle, do stupid things and have stupid things done to them. Most of us can rationalize and explain our own mistakes, but the mistakes of others are heinous crimes that only show how no one else can drive. And I include myself here.

            I’ve had people pass me within an inch when I’m within a half-inch of the gravel, I’ve been yelled at and given the finger for no reason, I’ve been cut off, etc. etc. However, I don’t believe that these people should have their licences taken away and that cars should not be allowed on the road. It’s just part of driving. There are a few excellent drivers, a few bad drivers and a whole lot of average drivers. And everyone makes mistakes, no matter how good they are.

            BTW, approximately one-third of fatally injured car drivers were impaired as well. DWI is never acceptable, but least the impaired cyclists are mostly a danger to themselves, not everyone else on the road.

          • So.. you’re saying cyclists shouldn’t be allowed to cycle drunk? I completely agree with that. That’s not the point.

            And I’m sorry, your word of how these near misses were the bikers fault doesn’t fly. Why? Because the fact that you’ve *had* so many near misses implies that you’re actually the one who’s not paying proper attention to the road. I’ve been driving for probably about 2/3ds the time you have, but in that time I’ve had zero near misses with road-cyclists, and zero collisions. Why? Because I pay attention and don’t drive aggressively around them. And yet even with what seems to me to be a damn high number of near misses, it’s still less than one every three years. Further proving my point that your math sucks.

            The only near miss I’ve ever had with a bicycle was an 8yr old who came flying down their driveway and out from behind a vehicle without warning. Scared the bejeesus out of me and him..

          • “pressed the limits of right of way” sounds like “had the right of way, but I’m bigger”.

            I’ve seen many cyclists do stupid and illegal things. They piss me off, because they give all cyclists a bad image. Just yesterday, two imbeciles turned left from the right-hand lane across traffic without an advanced green. They were coming out of a bike lane leading to that intersection, which may have confused/corralled them, but that certainly doesn’t excuse the idiocy. It was mindbogglingly stupid, and they are lucky they didn’t get killed by oncoming traffic. I suspect they will be killed one day if they keep that shit up. I wish a cop had witnessed it and issued them a ticket so expensive that they would be unable to buy parts for their bikes for 5 years. But their isolated immense stupidity does not imply that all cyclists are bad drivers.

          • I am afraid that I need to disagree with you, Thwim. Cyclists can have blind spots, depending on what they’re riding and what sort of helmet they choose – the safer the helmet, the more likely it is to have blind spots. They can text while cycling – I’ve seen one or two idiots doing this. They can certainly cycle while half asleep. (Pretty sure getting a blowjob is more problematic, however.) And I have seen more than a few moron cyclists who would certainly be at fault for any accidents that they cause. They seem to be about half the cyclists out there.

            That being said, I still disagree, for many reasons, with requiring cyclists to have insurance. (Despite the fact that I have it myself.) But I *would* require mandatory licensing for cyclists to use roads, even those with dedicated bicycle lanes. No license? Stick to the bike paths, or (for those of 16 years or less) the sidewalks.

        • You do know that the suburbs and our current road networks are one of the biggest experiments in big government in the history of man, right? Never before has government subsidised something on such a massive (and expensive) scale. You’re not a true capitalist if you think otherwise.

          • And back to the original point. Why would we subsidize with tax money, a bike share program, touted as the wave of the future of personal transportation, that has posted annual operating losses in one city that would cover the purchase price of 15-20,000 perfectly good bicycles?
            Look, as a private sector employed Albertan, I’m one of an increasingly rare breed. I actually pay taxes. In fact, I pay my own taxes, plus the taxes of several others, thanks to equalization. If places like Montreal want to pay for this kind of stuff, instead of schools and hospitals, go ahead. But, if they do, then they have to quit holding their hands out for equalization money, and Quebec in general is a black hole of tax money confiscated from other parts of the country.
            Look, kids and kiddies, Detroit and Stockton and San Bernadino, and Chicago aren’t teetering on the edge of bankruptcy because their tax base collapsed. They’re going tits up because of a constant diet of crap just like BIXI and constantly kicking the can of public sector debt on down the road.
            We don’t loathe crap like BIXI and bike lanes because they’re bikes. We loathe them because they are simply another progressive scheme that will end up being a financial boondoggle that edges us another step closer to some form of financial melt down.

          • Well, it’s good to get back to the original point. I don’t have strong opinions about BIXI, but as you point out, “if places like Montreal want to pay for this kind of stuff, instead of schools and hospitals, go ahead.” That’s exactly what they are doing. If you want to assume that, like a cup of water poured into the ocean, the atoms of your federal tax dollars somehow end up paying for BIXI, go ahead. I don’t live in Montreal or New York, so I don’t consider it my problem. And when my town paves shoulders for me to ride on, it’s my property tax dollars paying for it. And at least people are using it.

            As for basic bike infrastructure, the costs of paving a shoulder and painting a bike picture on it are a tiny proportion of the costs of road construction (and as a car driver, I like paved shoulders too). And the cost of separate bike infrastructure is equally tiny. From 2012 to 2015, the Province of Alberta plans to spend $3.5 billion on the provincial highway network. Presumably municipalities will spend several million more. I’d be amazed if a tenth of that was spent across the country on anything bicycle related.

          • The City of Red Deer has sent a million dollars down the memory hole on a “pilot” bike lane project.
            Here’s the problem: It was all based on the supposition that 3% of Red Deer’s commuters ride bikes to work. Now, my daily commute runs along about a mile of new bike lane, and about 3 miles of bike path. Now, on any given day, I can look ahead at a couple of stop lights and count 25-40 cars, with an equal number in my mirror. This is not just the ones stopped at a light with me, but several blocks ahead and behind. Due to merging and diverging streams of traffic, I can safely estimate that I encounter 200 vehicles per day just going to work. I also go right through what is claimed to be where the main concentration of bike traffic goes towards. If the bike lane proponents’ numbers weren’t completely pie in the sky, I would encounter a bare minimum of 6 bikes daily between work and home. I have seen exactly 6 bikes using the bike lane in the course of 1 year, plus another 4 utilizing the bike path roughly 15 feet adjacent to that particular section of bike lane. The total number of bicyclists I have counted commuting to and from work in the course of a year of paying close attention is at the very most 24.

            That, my friend, is the problem. We are routinely bombarded with demands for funding of some new initiative to solve a problem that does not actually exist, or serve some need that is equally fanciful, and governments are loathe to say “NO!” because they’re afraid they might hurt someone’s feelings, or worse, be seen as “not progressive.”
            Exactly how spending ourselves into penury, and failing to account for the tremendous social costs of socialism is “progressive” simply baffles me.

            BTW- at roughly 2 million motorists paying $2000/yr in road use taxes, that’s $4 billion annually that are collected just from Albertans, per year. $3.5 billion over 4 years is a drop in the bucket. (Registration fees, and fuel taxes paid by commercial transport would be another several hundred million per year on top of the $4 billion.)

          • Maybe you should consider getting out of your car and onto a bike to commute to work. Sounds like it would be more pleasant than sitting in traffic. And I find cycle commuting a great way to build exercise into my day. Since health care is a huge suck for public funding, public policies that encourage exercise and other preventative health care measures should have a positive effect on health care costs (instead of building more hospitals as you have proposed would be a good use of tax dollars).

          • That’s only practical if you live within a reasonable distance of where you work. I agree this is practical to facilitate transit between suburbs and places of work, but if you’re an hour’s drive out, it takes a huge chunk out of the day to bike to/from. As soon as you’re stuck spending an hour driving just to get to the city, another few minutes on city roads to get to where you work is relatively inconsequential compared to adding another 30 minutes to swap to a bike. If they additionally facilitated cyclists to be permitted to go faster on paths instead of the 20km/h limit imposed on many paths, it would make cycle commuting more practical for people who have to travel over longer distances. A last big problem is bike thieves. When you can pack an electric bolt-cutter in a backpack and take someone’s bike in the middle of Toronto without anyone seeming to notice or care, there’s a real problem with the boldness of the criminal element involved. Perhaps if the larger bike rack areas had better surveillance and if the legal system had heftier fines for people caught stealing or fencing bike parts, more people might be willing to bike and leave their rig locked up during the day while they’re working.

          • It has been 20 years since riding a bike to work has even been an option. I routinely carry thousands of dollars worth of equipment in my truck, and deliver it as far as 350 km from our location.
            And, again, you cannot use the argument that because the nanny state exists, we must expand the nanny state in order to preserve the nanny state (i.e the health care cost red herring). If all I was doing at work was standing at a lathe or milling machine, sure, a bike is fine. But getting all sweated up by a 12 km bike ride is not a good way to start a day in sales.

          • I work as a lawyer and biking to work (shy of 6 km each way) is a great way to start my day. In the Netherlands everyone bikes in regular clothes and in Canada, many work places either have inhouse change facilities or are close to private gyms. Since Red Deer is flat and you have those dedicated bike paths, biking sounds like a better option now than ever. Also, I’m sure my nanny private health insurance provider is also happy that I try to stay healthy. And regardless of whether health care is covered by public or private insurance or if you have to pay out of pocket, public policy that reduces health care costs is positive.

            You’re the one who expressed concern about cycling infrastructure “siphon[ing] money away from the things we willingly pay taxes for “like “hospitals to heal our sick”.

          • Sidetrack. I think I’d be happier if they helped pay for things to prevent people from getting sick in the first place. In Ontario, under McGuinty, there’s no longer the same stuff to help the elderly access physiotherapy or similar guidance to keep them healthy longer, enabling them to get past a fall and be ok rather than taking a tumble that breaks a hip and ties up hospital resources for umpteen hours or days.

          • I’ve never been to Red Deer, so I know nothing about the traffic, culture or anything. You have your take on the situation. Talk to your councilor and city hall, let them justify it. I’d say the city website sums things up pretty nicely – http://www.reddeer.ca/City+Government/City+Services+and+Departments/Engineering/Streets+Lanes+and+Sidewalks/Commuter+Bike+Pilot+Program/default.htm

            Your use of a strip of pavement as a proxy for socialism baffles me. It’s a bike path, not a nationalized sugar refinery. People want to use it, they do. They don’t, they don’t, just like the street you live on. One of many budget lines where taxes are spent, like the one where the City is spending over $5 million to improve an intersection this year. Red Deer isn’t exactly known as a socialist hotbed, so I seriously doubt that the powers that be there give a rat’s a$s as to whether they appear progressive. Many of your comments underline the original article. You’ve identified bike riders as ‘the other’ and are manning the trenches in the culture war, despite the fact that a very good conservative case can be made for cycling (see other people’s comments).

            As for the budget numbers, see my earlier comment about whether or not gas taxes, etc. are a true reflection of the costs of roads/cars etc.. And in 2010-11, the province collected $760 million in gas taxes while spending $1.9 billion on roads. ‘Road use taxes,’ if they existed, would take the form of a charge levied to drivers based on how many kilometres they drive. Maybe the libertarians have a point.

          • All of the taxes on fuel are road uses taxes, as they are only paid by those who purchase fuel, just as all the taxes on tobacco are tobacco taxes, and those on liquor are liquor taxes. Just because they are spent on things not pertaining to roads, tobacco, or liquor does mean that they aren’t road/liquor/tobacco taxes. I stand by my $4 billion on that basis. (An excise tax on liquor is a liquor tax, is it not? GST on liquor is also a liquor tax.)
            The bike lanes are symptomatic. We take a tangible asset- confiscated money- and use it to provide a supposedly necessary public service which provides wholly intangible and subjective benefits simply to give our city government street cred amongst the “progressive” crowd. Do this enough times and you’ll be just as broke as Detroit or Stockton.
            On my daily commute, we have now added a situation whereby a left turn lane has been shortened dramatically. We now have the routine situation of cars lining up to make the left turn and can’t access the turning lane, and cars behind them going straight through are stuck. It’s only 30 seconds of congestion, but it happens several times a week. Do you think the case can be made that enough cars have been taken off the road by the new bike lanes to offset the increased air pollution at just this one intersection.

          • Actually, I would call them gas taxes, just as liquor taxes are taxes on liquor. And they essentially work the same way, more as sin taxes than as something akin to road tolls. Actually, non-smokers and non-drinkers don’t pay cig/liquor taxes, but non-drivers do pay for gas taxes through the cost of goods. But again, my earlier point is that many believe that the taxes and fees collected from road users don’t cover all of the costs, which means that you can make the case that cars, drivers and roads are subsidized. And the $760 million in gas taxes is an Alberta government figure, not an estimate (http://www.energy.alberta.ca/Oil/pdfs/FactSheet_Gasoline.pdf).

            Again, I can’t comment on Red Deer. No point in asking me rhetorical questions about a city I’ve never visited. You know your city council. Do they care about progressive street cred? Mine doesn’t. They do whatever gets them elected, and maybe enough bike riders in my town vote to make a difference. And I can assure you, my town votes Conservative both federally and provincially (municipally too). But your experiences with Red Deer’s bike lanes, successful or not, or Red Deer cyclists, reckless or not, do not do not warrant condemnation of all cyclists and the paths/roads they take as symptomatic as ‘socialism.’ Lots of people ride bikes. Those people pay taxes too. No, they don’t pay gas taxes like drivers do, at least when they aren’t driving their cars. But they don’t get much infrastructure, either. And as I noted earlier, you object to bike infrastructure, you object to sharing the road and it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk. So what’s left?

          • On the note of air polution. Far more exhaust is generated by operating at speed than idling, so comparatively speaking, taking a single car at 80km/h off the road entirely for a 60 minute bidirectional commute may actually equate to the amount of exhaust generated by very many vehicles idling at the affected intersections over the same 60 minute period.

            Other than that, I’m in agreement on the taxes thing. The government rips us off all the time so they can waste it on stuff, but I’d rather they waste it on infrastructure rather than waste it on employing consultants. I’d rather they not waste it at all, but let’s assume they’re going to find creative and sometimes even stupid ways to spend everything they bring in anyway under the guise of ensuring their budgets in their little empires don’t get cut in the following round of planning.

            A note on the economic impacts. The city could easily argue that expenses on fuels largely means money leaving their local jurisdiction, and that by facilitating biking, they’re facilitating asset retention among residents who live close enough to the city that they may actually also be paying property tax in the city as well. As an administrative body that is “supposed” to be working for the interests of their members, if a bit of expense results in long-term savings on the aggregate over the city’s population, they may actually be making a solid investment. I’m not saying they are, but they could be. The city isn’t necessarily interested in picking and choosing winners between drivers and cyclists. The city, insofar as it is actually a corporate entity, is interested in the health of the corporation. That usually means they want to grow their little empire by attracting more investment by means of higher denser population. I’m not saying I like it, but that is generally how the system is being run.

          • 1) that old chestnut about being “one of the few left who actually pay taxes” may comfort you to tell yourself, but anyone making over $8K a year pays taxes.

            2) if you think Detroit’s problems are because of things like Bixi, you need to do more reading…

          • Condescend much?

          • Seriously, dude, you really need to get yourself on a bike! Remember when you were a kid and it was the best thing ever? Why such hate for the few of us who enjoy fresh air, exercise and dislike sitting in traffic? You know how much money I save the health care system by not being obese and having type II diabetes? About as much as you think you subsidize my ‘share’ of taxes for building roads, probably more. I’m a tax paying Albertan too and I’m sick to death of paying for others who are irresponsible enough to be fat, out of shape and unhealthy. Get a bike!

    • Why not also take on pedestrians too? After all, sidewalks are really just part of the road allowance that local governments dedicate to pedestrian use as a matter of policy.

    • People who bike don’t pay taxes now?

  3. For every cyclist commuting to work there’s one less car congesting the road.

    • Have fun from November until March.

      • Nice pair of gloves and you’re good to go.

      • I do!

      • it’s not really even all that bad except in the worst conditions (usually falling snow making the streets wet). It’s the kind of thing that many people (a big chunk of whom being suburbanities) simply look down their noses at and think they’re too good for, rather than actually try to engage in. “Bicycles? Those are for the muckity muck. I deserve to be pandered to in my expensive gas guzzling automobile which i will take half a block to the corner store.”

      • Absolutely LOVE riding my bike in the winter. One of my favourite things about it is the disbelieving looks of all the obese dunderheads in my workplace, many of whom could use both the exercise and the blast of cold air to awaken them from their permastupour.

      • Shrug…. I ride much of that time. Don’t imagine that your frailty is shared by me.

      • The only winter days I can’t cycle are the days immediately following a significant snowfall (maybe 10-20 days a years). The rest of the winter, I just need to bundle up in my ski gear.

        I find fall more dangerous. Wet leaves are the devil.

      • A good set of studded tires and a power-assist, and you can easily clear 4km of snowy streets in about 15 minutes. I find it’s actually easier to ride through fresh snow (not more than a few inches thick) compared to cutting over the tracks left by the cars.

      • Cause there’s no such thing as mass transit people!

  4. I’ve always thought that there was a conservative case (for old-school social conservatives in the Russell Kirk mould) for cycling as a school for civic virtues. Thrift, courage, resourcefulness, stoicism, self-reliance, a work ethic – it’s all there.

    • Not to mention that it is a much older and more traditional form of transportation than the relevantly recent motor car. At the turn of the 20th century, it was the safety bicycle, not the motor car, that had begun to displace horses.

  5. Important to point out that bike share (and bikes) are only the “enemy” of conservative media. Conservative politicians are in fact embracing bike share and promoting bicycle use in cities as a way to bring better jobs, boost the economy, and save people money. The belly-aching of conservative journalists is nowhere near in line with what is actually happening on our streets. http://momentummag.com/features/how-bicycles-bring-business/

  6. Not sure why fiscal conservatives find themselves so opposed to bikes. Should fit right in with their views. The infrastructure is cheap for starts. Less pollution with no costly environmental program. Better health means lower health care costs. Good for small business. More bikes means fewer cars means less congestion for the ones that do drive. It’s a part of the solution, not the problem.

    • Yep. And the government isn’t forcing anybody to ride bikes or change their lifestyles. By building (inexpensive) cycling infrastructure, the government is merely enabling those who would like to cycle safely and efficiently.

  7. It saddens me to see a “conservative Vs. Counter-cultural” dichotomy developing over the issue of bicycles. Please no “Us and Them”. I love my bicycles, but I’m against bike-sharing programs. I ride as often as I can, but I also drive a V6. I appreciate both the Tour de France and NASCAR. I want to see more cycling infrastructure. I hate electric-bicycles and cyclists who flaunt the road rules. Take my bicycle away? Over my cold, dead body.

    • I am not against bike sharing programs at all…. If they are private and profitable!

    • My biggest complaint is those who flaunt the road rules. Gives those who ride properly a bad name.

      • I think you mean ‘flout’. I ride properly, which I guess makes me conspicuous, although I hardly flaunt it.

  8. I use a bicycle to get everywhere. Used to have a car but don’t anymore. I’m also generally labeled as being far far far right wing by folks. So we exsist. I think bicycling is great, done wonders for my health and has been nothing but plasent for me. I avoid bicycle groups though as it always seems to be about putting pressure on Goverment to do something for us. Which is a shame as I would like to promote ridership within the public and encourage Goverment to stop subsidising all roads.

    • What does the last line mean? You don’t want roads? You don’t think governments are responsible for roadways? How exactly would this work?

      • Some libertarians believe that roads should all be user pay. You drive X kilometres and pay X times Y cents/dollars per km.

  9. Bikes don’t belong on the roads….what we need is public transport

    • Really? I totally agree.

    • Bike lanes and goods mass transit are good options.

      • Public transit yes, bikes no.

    • Maybe you have something here, Emily. Time for all of we cyclists to build human-powered quad helicopters and get off the roads. *rolleyes*

    • Ridiculous statement.

  10. Summing up everyone living in suburbs as uncultured suburbanite trash is not that eloquent or cultured. I guess I am one of those uncultured suburbanites (I am originally from Europe, have a degree and a diploma, and lived half of my life only using public transit/bikes). I now live in a suburb (an hour outside Vancouver), and have a job in a location that is not connected to transit, have two small children who I would not be able to take to daycare and be at work by 8 am if I would have to use a bike (if anyone can show me how to get a one year old and a four year old to daycares that are 30 minutes driving distance from one another, then bike 30 km to the office and arrive by 8 am looking professional, I would love to hear it). Yes, we live in suburbs. I grew up in a city and I do not wish to bring my children up in a cramped condo where they cannot run outside and play without continuous supervision. We unfortunately cannot afford a house in Vancouver and so we continue to pay taxes for services that we do not get to use. I am not against bikes and I would love to use more public transit when possible, I am just tired of having to listen to city-centric people sum up everyone living in suburbs as ill-educated trash who do not see further than their gas-guzzling SUVs.

  11. I am a right winger through and through and I love bikes !!! – cheaper

  12. A bicycle is self-propelled, self empowerment !

  13. I actually agree that bikes should not generally be on the road, but only because most auto drivers are crap. The sidewalks are much safer places for them, and if there is no dedicated bike lane, cyclists should be encouraged to stay on the sidewalks unless they need to clear off them for pedestrian traffic.

    • No, the sidewalk is actually more dangerous than riding safely approximately 3ft. from the curb.

      There is a lot of proof out there. Educate yourself…

      • Cite some sources and I’ll be happy to.

        • Wachtel and Lewiston, 1992

          Moritz, 1998

          There are probably other studies available, but these are pretty good starters. Both found significant increased risk for sidewalk riders. I’d like to find a more modern study, and/or a Canadian study, but I have to stop goofing around on the internet now. :)

          • The 1998 study I have some problems with. Sidewalk isn’t a category he used, he just used other and then says that most of the respondents indicated they meant sidewalks by “other”. “Most” is hardly a strong statistical term.. especially when we see that sidewalk travel accounted for 0.3% of the total KMs listed.

            So his data about sidewalk travel doesn’t have any statistical significance, and the conclusions he draws from it, therefore, can’t be viewed as at all authoritative.

            The 1992 study, however, seems much stronger. The one thing that it didn’t have, however, is any distinction between roadway with or without dedicated bicycle lane. It’d be nice to see some differentiation there to really see if the roadway risk level is being significantly reduced because some of the roadways are dedicated bicycle lanes.

            That said, they do give some good reasons as to why more accidents may occur due to sidewalk riding. Most of which boil down to cyclist error in due care and attention while riding on the sidewalk.

            Neither study presents useful data about severity of sidewalk vs. roadway accidents, however. Is it better for a cyclist to fail getting up a curb and falling over, or to be sideswiped by a car and not getting up?

          • What a wank

        • google: “how to ride a bicycle safely in traffic”

          • Thanks for wasting my time. That gives absolutely nothing in the way of citations or proof that the sidewalk is more dangerous than the roads. Perhaps you need to educate yourself on what a decent citation is.

          • Are you really this dense? I think your just being a stubborn jerk.

            My point is very simple – I don’t owe you anything… It’s your choice to remain ignorant.

            How about “is it safe to ride a bike on the sidewalk”. Shall I teach you how to cut and paste so you don’t have to type all that?

            It is more dangerous to ride on the sidewalk than properly in traffic.

          • You’re the one who claimed there is a lot of proof out there and that my education in the matter was lacking. If you’re not simply talking out your hind-end, it should be a relatively simple matter to provide citations to some portion of this “lot of proof” you claim exists. As yet, you’ve yet to do so and are simply making up searches in hopes that something will be found.

            Basically, if you’re going to suggest others should get educated, it would behoove you to follow up on your own advice first.

          • Behoove me? Ha ha! You’re like that guy with Alberta plates who drives, white knuckled, in the passing lane of the 401 at 100 km/hr and then goes home and complains about how rude Toronto drivers are…

            If I we were discussing tire pressure vs traction and rolling resistance, or the fine points of threshold calculations or some other obscure bit of knowledge I would be happy to provide a citation.

            I don’t need to provide a cite if I assert the Earth is spherical… it’s common knowledge. Just as it it common knowledge among anyone who knows anything about urban cycling that it is dangerous to ride on the sidewalk.

            Your opinion is not simply worthless, it’s dangerous, especially considering it is based upon nothing.

          • Wow. Already down to making up imaginary characters in your head because you can’t argue the point. That’s really sad.

            If it really is common knowledge, it should be moronically easy to provide a reasonable citation. That you can’t, suggests either you’re wrong about it being common knowledge, or that you don’t have the capacity to handle something a moron could.

            My opinion is based on a number of years both as a cyclist and a driver. It is informed, where possible, by experts, such as those briguyhfx supplied.

            Yours seems to be pulled entirely out of your ass, with the justification that “Oh well I’m sure everybody knows this”.. the exact same logic that was used to justify the idea that the earth is the centre of the universe.

          • I most certainly can provide a citation, but I won’t. Not for this, not to you. It’s not up to me to prove what is common knowledge. It’s not my problem you are ignorant, and choose to remain ignorant.

            It is my problem if you choose to advise people to behave in a dangerous manner, as you are doing by advocating sidewalk riding.

            Do not ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. It is dangerous. Educate yourself on how to ride in traffic.

      • You *do* need to take into account riders other than hormonal, fit young men…

        Children, the aged and the more timid should be able to cycle without danger (or a perception of danger) anywhere they want. And the solution is what the Netherlands, Denmark and other enlightened countries have done: ubiquitous segregated, wide bike paths along larger roads and go-slow or car-free zones in residential and downtown shopping areas.

        • Segregated bike lanes are an entirely different proposition from the sidewalk.

          Riding on the sidewalk is still dangerous for children, the aged and especially the more timid. It places you out of the peripheral vision of motorists and, as a cyclist will always be faster than a pedestrian, it makes you a target. A typical quick shoulder check by a driver will not register if there is a pedestrian or cyclist, they will assume pedestrian…

          It is a trap for beginner cyclists. Thwim is a dangerous commentator because he thinks his opinion has value.

  14. The commentators are just speaking the truth. They’re not “pushing” a viewpoint to make it a reality, which is what this article suggests simply by the fact that this article exists. This will be disputed, as always, by those that don’t get it (those on the left). Roads are for cars, not bicycles. Their further encroachment on our territory does need to be stopped, and soon. Bikes may or may not belong on the sidewalks, but they certainly do not belong on the roads.

    • Roads are for moving people not for cars. They’re for vehicles of which bikes are. And by law they belong on the roads.

    • Agreed. It just doesn’t make sense to put bicycles on roads when a shoulder or sidewalk is available. Cyclists are relatively unprotected and slow moving. Pedestrians even slower. A difference of about 20km/h for a typical cyclist hitting a pedestrian, with the relatively trivial amount of momentum a single body carries compared to a car traveling 80km/h hitting a cyclist at 20km/h, with the car weighing about 2 tonnes carring a whole lot more momentum. Biking beside cars is almost no better than playing in traffic. Comparing the proportion of car-bicycle accidents resulting in death or long-term disability to the porportion of bicycle-pedestrian accidents should be a clear enough indication of where the bikes ought to be.

      As for wanting the city to be more bike-friendly, maybe they ought to make it more practical for cyclists to get around the city. Stop limiting them to 30km/h on pathways. Let people use some common sense for getting around each other, and if you’re going to make a segregated downtown pathway, try putting it as part of the extra-wide sidewalks instead of cramming them into the roadway.

    • Roads are not for cars, they are for the safe and efficient transport of people and goods.

      Cars, pedestrians, cyclists, trucks, buses, taxis, streetcars, delivery vehicles, emergency vehicles, construction vehicles, wheelchairs, skateboards, rollerblades, maintenance vehicles, garbage pick-up, police….

      • Not universally. Municipalities (in Ontario) have the authority to declare bylaws restricting access to certain roadways from pedestrians or other modes of transit of their choosing. OHTA 185.2.
        A path is just a path, they can decide what they want it to be for to whichever extent they choose as long as it doesn’t contradict provincial or federal law.

      • Horses, rickshaws, fire trucks, tractors, carriages, scooters, etc, etc.

    • Roads are for what they were originally designed for: for people to move in conveyances at faster than walking speed. Roads were originally paved to provide a smooth ride for the benefit of cyclists, not for the johnny-come-lately automobile.

      Saying that roads are “for” a specific mode of transport avoids the real issue: how well different modes coexist with or without especial problems. Since evidence shows that automobile traffic is especially dangerous to cyclists (as for pedestrians), the logical solution (hit on by countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands that have a thing for basing policy on logic and evidence) is to provide special segregated infrastructure for bike traffic, just as we have long (in most places) provided segregated infrastructure on the margins for pedestrians (i.e. sidewalks).

      Now, as practically any motorist is also aware, another source of danger on the roads for motorists is… motorists. I ask what, in the above commenter’s estimation, should be done about those (other?) motorists. Shove *them* up on the sidewalks?

  15. But wait! George W. Bush is an avid cyclist who regularly hosts 100km rides, Arnold Schwarzenegger loves cycling too, but Michael Moore hates biking; so that means the left supports modern transportation, while the right is full of technological luddites who think the internal combustion engine is of the devil.

    Did I do it right?

    Seriously, does Macleans even have editors anymore? Nobody to say “Sorry this is grasping at straws, easily refutable, and more than a little stupid”?

    • I agree, fitness vs sloth doesn’t translate to left vs. right.

    • Bicycles are modern transportation.

      Technological luddites have played a strong role in keeping back alternatives to the extremely inefficient (in many ways) internal-combustion automobile.

      • Well the dandyhorse was first sold in 1817, while the automobile was invented in 1886, but that wasn’t really the point I was making.
        I thought my sarcasm was fairly obvious.

  16. It’s the most efficient way to move around any place with a medium or high density. Period.

    • And the most healthy.

      • and the least expensive considering the price of gas (and insurance)

  17. Its hard for either a liberal or a conservative to argue in favour of using a 1500 kg. “container” to carry a 100 kg. human. Its inefficient. Conservatives like efficiency, at least usually.

    I think even Isaac Newton would agree. He’d think the way we use cars for short solo trips is just plan silly.

    • The millions of barrels of oil, that we invade other countries for, to spend on idling motors in crawling gridlock. The ultimate stupid.

  18. Be they left, right or centrists, bike haters can all get bent.

  19. No wonder conservatives are so happy. Ignorance is Bliss.

  20. I just happened upon this site by following a thread. Wow, I must say that Canadians are as awful as USAmericans when it comes to hateful, stupid comments. I thought, hoped, you guys were better.

  21. I hate riding a bike as much as anyone and I’m as far from a environmentalist as you can get but as long as the gov. allows gas prices to continue to rise to the ridiculous prices they are at I have no choice but to use a bike instead of a car

    • The only thing that is ridiculous is that they are kept so *low*. They are nowhere near where they *should* be to reflect the true price to society.

  22. I’m not particularly environmental, though I do think that there are things that can be done to improve things. I’m not anti-car and love driving, especially long distance.

    I also enjoy cycling.

    I just want to be able to ride my bicycle safely. What’s wrong with that?


    I read a couple of comments about costs. I went through some past bank statements and discovered that, from mid-spring through mid-fall, my transportation costs are approx 50% of the rest of the year. Now, if that isn’t a case for cycling, I don’t know what is.

  23. Bikes are not suited to city traffic in this country – dangerous to the riders and traffic around them. Maybe ok in European cities that have incorporated them on their traffic patterns for decades but a no- go here – or should be.

    • Or is it the other way round, i.e. city traffic in this country is dangerous to riders and traffic around them.

      Like it was in the Netherlands, Denmark and practically anywhere else in Europe in the 1970s — until they smartened up, realised they needed to stop the carnage, and put in special bike infrastructure and opened up city centre streets to pedestrians without the danger posed by cars, resulting in better business than ever for shop-owners lucky enough to find themselves on those streets (and despite their previous gut conviction that removing cars would spell certain death for their business).

    • As an avowed non-driver who has been riding a bike on Toronto’s streets for the past fifty years – half of them professionally – one wonders what you base such totally out-of-touch opinions on, eh? Just how old are you, anyway?

      As a still actively mobile great-grandfather, one doubts age alone is responsible for Old Geezer’s stated delusion.

    • Nice Idea, but I have 200,000 miles riding in our largest American cities that says otherwise…

  24. We really should be banning buses. I here those take up a lot of road space and if they hit your car you’ll die.

  25. Bicycles could be a perfect “conservative” example of achieving personal transportation with a minimum of waste of resources. The current rush hour is a decent example of the tragedy of the commons in action: single drivers bumper-to-bumpering with four-to-six empty seats from the burbs is pure insanity. Slap tolls on those roads and watch people smarten up. Getting away from that insanity by commuting by bicycle is super cool.

    Bixi and their bike sharing counterparts, however, are anti-conservative evil: forced taxation of everyone so that a few people can benefit from widely dispersed (well, except for Toronto) bicycles-for-the-borrowing. Probably cheaper than the rip-off of all taxpayers so that public transit users pay nowhere near the true cost of buses, trains and subways. But still.

    • Bike-sharing and transit are subsidised just as much as (actually, probably less than) the cost of roads and fuel. I’m not aware of a specific tax being applied to finance it, though.
      Transit at full cost is not viable; neither is road use for private vehicle operators.
      Transit is perhaps the tragedy of the commons in reverse: we all think it would be nice to have a source of low-cost transportation provided so we don’t have to drive, but many people think transit is strictly for other people.

      • The cost of fuel? Subsidized? In Canada? Do explain!

        • The government subsidizes the cost of petroleum extraction and the energy sector (to the tune of $26 billion in 2011, or almost $800 per taxpayer). Our gas prices might be higher than in other countries, but theirs are kept artificially low (esp. in oil-producing states) and we are dinged twice in tax terms: payroll tax to subsidize the fuel before we buy it, and tax on it when we actually buy it).

          • It’s the “tax on it when we buy it” thing — a pretty massive portion of the price per litre of gasoline — that obliterates the “subsidy” of fuel.

            Thanks for the link, but please rethink your “subsidizes the cost of extraction” argument. Canada rates 0.00 on “pre-tax” subsidies, and the “post-tax” subsidy business is a variant on “how much the tax falls below whatever we feel it ought to be.”

            Quote from that IMF report: When there is no pre-tax subsidy, the post-tax subsidy is equal to the difference between efficient and actual taxation.

            So again I ask: Cost of fuel? Subsidized? In Canada?

          • To put it another way, do you really think the cost per litre that we see at the pump reflects the true cost of that litre, or is it slightly more, a fair bit more, a lot more?

          • Most gas taxes generally don’t go to the road network, and don’t even approach the cost of building or maintaining the roads.

          • Indeed, roads are subsidized, and users should pay more for use.

            Gasoline? Not subsidized. Taxed like crazy.

          • For one thing, have a look at the dozen or so tax deductions and tax credit programs used by the oil and gas industry, to offset or eliminate the cost of such things as finding oil wells, acquiring oil wells, investing, royalties, expenses, etc. Hundred of millions at a time, without which the oil and gas companies would be passing something closer to the actual cost on to the consumer.

          • That’s what I was expecting you were getting at with the false claim of “subsidy.” It’s more accurately termed “the cost of doing business,” which EVERY business deducts / depreciates from its revenues when calculating profits, dividends, and tax owed.

            Do we accuse restaurants of being subsidized because they deduct the cost of their food, furniture, rent, labour? Is Canadian Tire a “subsidy” parasite for deducting the wholesale cost of screwdrivers as they book the retail price at sale as income?

            Even the IMF wasn’t prepared to use your absurd definition as a “pre-tax subsidy” when it compiled its data for Canada in the tables.

            Revenues: $900 million. Expenses: $850 million. Common sense: Assess tax on the $50 million profit left over, since a whole bunch of someone-elses have pocketed the $850 million scattered all over the economy and they’ll get taxed on their profits . Lemur: Assess tax on the $900 million, or else it’s an unfair subsidy.

          • I never actually said the entire revenue should be taxed. The government helping oil companies do their work at a lower cost still constitutes a reduction of the cost price of their product.

  26. Get rid of helmet laws.

  27. You outed the “Bike Lobby” Rabinowitz was talking about with your final quote. How many urban planning professionals ride a bike in your city? And do they espouse a monolithic perception of how biking should be practiced and planned for in your community?

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