Saturday, July 23, 2011

Alachua County Republican Party doesn't like bikes

You need you some panniers, Alex Patton!
I think that is a pretty good summary of the Gainesville Sun article posted today, where the GOP machine in Alachua County sponsored a cycling event in the 13th Street Home Depot parking lot.  The goal?  To prove that bicycles are inefficient and impractical for transportation in Gainesville and the rest of the county.

This is hardly about whatever deficiencies riding a bicycle (besides not having the benefit of having about three tons of metal between you and another vehicle) in the city may present to citizens.  This is about stopping all efforts to promote more efficient roadways and other city planning projects that would benefit pedestrians and cyclists:

In Alachua County, 90 percent of the money raised from the 5-cent gas tax goes toward paying for roads. The other 10 percent goes toward bicycle paths.
Patton said bicycle usage outside the downtown area doesn’t warrant that level of contribution.

Of course not!  What could possibly be the benefit of safer bike pathways on roads outside of the city limits?  No one with a "three ton Chevy Avalanche" needs a bike path, and those who do are just poor and so who cares?

Alex Patton, who rode the bicycle against the above-mentioned truck, apparently lost the race because he was attempting to pick up cartons of eggs and ice cream, some dry cleaning, and a 2x4 as part of the errands to accomplish during the race.  This is without any sort of carrying component to the bike other than a backpack.  A 2x4?  Seriously?  

I've reported over the years about the various changes we've made to our family's bicycles in order to carry out the day-to-day activities we do with just one car; when DJ was a toddler we had in him a child trailer which eventually became a grocery trailer; a child carrier on the back of the bike; a ride-along bike trailer when DJ was learning how to bicycle; and finally, DJ is now old enough to ride his own bike and I have attached a cargo trailer on our extra beater bike.  As any seasoned commuter cyclist who spends a good portion of time riding to and from their destinations knows, you need the right tools to do the right job.  Like anyone who owns a big ol' truck, you have tools in case you break down (in fact, my blogger buddy, Jillian, just posted about the tool kit a commuter cyclist needs on the road).  

This was obviously an exercise in futility if you require a cyclist to make these kinds of trips with nothing more than a backpack; anyone who only had a bike and needed one 2x4 would ask a friend with a car for help (like asking the driver of the truck, for instance), or making the trip on the bus.  It's possible to carry a 2x4 on a bike, but there is little reason for someone to do it when there are other options.  I'm sure there's an argument to be made about this if the person in question is poor and cannot afford the bus or has no friends with cars, but it seems like any argument for or against bicycles is going to somehow entail some kind of inconvenience.

Be prepared to hear the "bikes are inefficient" line over and over again anytime the question of taxes for city planning and bike pathways that in any way improve the bike-ability of Gainesville or Alachua County is raised.  Critics will most likely even point to this Gainesville Sun article as an example.
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