Monday, May 13, 2013

Thoughts on Bikes and Streets on Historic Day

I'm too excited to write about the Minnesota legislature's votes on marriage equality today and last week. The governor will be signing the bill tomorrow afternoon.

So in the meantime, here's a letter from today's Star Tribune on a completely different topic. The writer, Walker Angell of Vadnais Heights, was responding to an earlier letter that talked about how road costs needed to be better shared if people were going to bike more.


Bicyclists Pay More than Their Fair Share for Roads

Only about half of road funding comes from user fees such as gas taxes, registration fees, and tolls. The other half comes from general funds. Do taxpayers who don't drive subsidize those who do?

Now, consider that each car requires more than 25 times as much paved surface to drive and park as a bike does and more than 80 times as much as walking does. Roadways for 4,000-pound cars also require much greater expense per square foot to build and maintain than bikeways for 200-pound cyclists. Worse, in a century of expensive road building, we've yet to build our way out of congestion.

Or, that in the United States we spend about $8,000 per person annually on health care, double what other developed countries spend, and that this gap is projected to increase. Sitting behind the wheel of a car is perhaps the least healthy activity (non-activity) that most of us do each day. However, someone who rides a bike to work twice a week costs about $1,200 per year less in health care as others.

And we haven't yet touched on the costs of air, water, and noise pollution from motor vehicles. Or that bikes burn calories, not oil. Or the costs of motor-vehicle crashes that we all share (in 2011, drivers of motor vehicles in Minnesota killed 368 people and injured more than 30,000, for an estimated cost of $1.5 billion)….

 I'm keeping this in the back pocket of my mind for the next time someone tries to argue that bikers are moochers.

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