Recently, I was pulled over on the side of the road here in New Orlean for biking down the bike lane (that they put in within the last year), going in
the opposite direction as the traffic lane it was built on. It is a four lane roadway with a median, or "neutral ground" in the middle of the two
Of course I was very upset. I didn't know that biking had become regulated. I had been under the impression that biking was still free. And then I did
a little homework, and talking with people around my favorite haunts and with people on Facebook.
It seems that most major cities have created traffic laws that apply to bicycles. Most of the laws start by legally defining a bicycle as a "vehicle",
therefore melding preexisting vehicle/traffic laws to bicycles. Then there are the bicycle specific laws. Laws requiring a helmet, or a night light
that flashes, or at least one working brake.
Some laws even designate legal restrictions now on how your bike looks, or how tall it is!
Now, if I had been surprised at the way bikes have been castrated from their normally free ways, like wild horses that now live in fenced in ranches,
I was even more surprised when I started to talk my peers about this! Most, if not all, of my peers (ages 23-30) agree with bike laws! Further, they
even thought it was a little crazy that I was arguing them!
Then I did my research. I searched the major bike organizations and bike associations in the United States. I started to get the impression that bike
laws were a consequence of a hard, and long fought battle to get bicycles recognized as a viable and legitimate form of transportation. The deal, it
seems, was a deal with the devil. You see, for the city to recognize bikes as a legitimate form of transportation meant making bike trails and paths.
It meant putting in bike lanes on busy city thoroughfares, and it meant trendy and artistic public bike parking spaces. And the City said, "There.
Have your bike legitimacy." And the biking community thanked The City, and turned to leave. And The City said, "Oh, wait. One more thing. Well,
actually two or three. You see, now that you have your bike legitimacy, you're one of the big boys now. And you have to start playing by the big boys
rules. In this case, by next year, we're going to require bicycle licence plates big enought to be read by plate reading street cameras. In four
years, we're going to require everyone to have a driver's license at $50 a year. In eight years, you will have to provide proof of insurance from a
major insurance provider to ride your bike, which should cost about... $150 a quarter."
The bike organizations and people were willing to sacrifice the sovereignty of biking for some baubles!
Now, I started this thread by saying that bicycling is a financial handicap. I'll also say that bike laws are a tax on the working poor. Lastly,
bicycling is a revolutionary activity, and a sovereign one as well.
The former sentence I say because of this:
This is a society of automobiles. Regardless of your eco-fascist wet dreams that cars all disappeared and we all bike everywhere and eat only
Whole Foods, cars aren't going anywhere. In fact, they are the norm. Having a car is normal. And for now, all roadways are built with cars and
semi-trucks in mind, not bikes.
And not everyone who uses a bike, does so for recreation. Some of us rely on bicycles because we are too poor to afford a car, repair a broken
one, or can't pay over-priced car insurance and gasoline. We rely on our bikes to get us from point A to point B as quickly as possible. We use our
bikes to get to work, to school, wherever. We don't have a choice. We can't walk because of how long it would take. Here's another way of putting it:
I don't bike to work in the rain because it's good for the planet, while meanwhile all our goods are made in former US factories in the world's
biggest polluter, China. I don't do it because I just love biking. I do it cause I have to.
In this way, biking becomes a financial handicap in the way that using a wheelchair is a physical handicap. Society works around people who are
wheel chair bound. It requires places to be wheelchair accessible. It requires handicap parking for people in wheelchairs. What society doesn't do is
regulate (see: tax) wheelchair usage. I mean, you don't need a license to use a wheelchair. You are not required to wear a seatbelt, or a helmet. You
don't have to have wheelchair insurance. You don't assign any more hardship on the handicapped because... they're handicapped!
If biking is a fincancial handicap, it should be treated the same way; no regulations or fees involved with using one, and, as readily as it is
attainable, accomodations for bike users.
Bike laws are a tax on the working poor.
I say this because the only people who use their bikes to travel (besides the goodniks on the West Coast), are people who turn to biking for it's
one-time fee of buying a bike. I say, anyone making less than $20,000 a year, should have all bike related tickets and fines thrown out.
Biking is a revolutionary act...
With the economy in the tank, and less people able to afford a car, most are turning to more sovereign forms of transportation; skateboarding,
rollerskating, and bicycling. So, some people, but no fault of their own, bike because it's meant to be cheaper than driving.
But some people bike to give a big middle finger to the oil and gas industries. Some, not most, to the insurance companies.
And some people have a whole ideology about biking. They want to turn the world into a biking paradise. Where no one drives cars anymore, and if we
do, it's a car pool. This is the basis behind many Urban Planners that use the Smart Growth plan of city planning.
I don't disagree with any of the above definitions, though I do have my reservations to the Smart Growth crowd, but all in all...
My disagreement is with charging people to bike. Do you agree?
edit on 24-2-2013 by franklin555 because: Forgot a point.