Friday, September 04, 2009

Sharing the Road

Above: An organized cross-state bike ride.

I’ve become a very cautious bicyclist.

Two groups of anti-bicycle organizers in Colorado and Iowa have proposed legislation to ban bicyclists from county roads. Yes, they believe they shouldn't have to share the road with bicyclists. They even believe bicyclists don’t pay taxes on the roads.

But I hadn’t counted on the accelerated road rage.

Last week in Iowa after a bicyclist was killed in a hit-and-run accident, the "Citizens of Safety Coalition" - a euphemism for a group I like to call "Crazy Rednecks Against the Environment" (C.R.A.T.E.!) - cited the accident as an example of why bicyclists shouldn’t be on the road. (See the report at the excellent website

Dan Jones of the “Coalition” told Emily Carson, a WHOTV reporter, “Bicyclists are that much more hard to see. If they’re not here it would make it a lot easier for everyone.”

A terrifying, inhumane response to a senseless hit-and-run killing - witnessed by pedestrians.

Bicycles don't kill car drivers.

And it is also horrifyingly stupid in light of environmental problems.

And, yes, cars cause most of the air pollution. (The Cash for Clunkers program isn't going to make it go away.) Motor vehicles account for most of the ozone ozone pollution: they emit 72% of nitrogen oxides and 52% of reactive hydrocarbons (principal components of smog).

Bicycles cause zero air pollution.

So get on your bicycles and let your freak flag fly - or whatever you do.

Because if you're going to be insane, banning the goddamned cars makes more sense than banning the bicycles.

Here are a few stats about air pollution from the Transportation Almanac at BicycleUniverse. (A good reporter would get the stats from a primary source, but I'm not being paid!)

1. More than half of the people in the U.S. live in areas that failed to meet federal air quality standards at least several days a year, and around 80 million Americans live in areas that continually fail to meet these standards).

2. Emissions from cars dwarfs that from power plants. In May 2000, Austin Energy planned to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 40% at its Decker and Holly power plants, from 1700 tons per year to less than 1000tpy by 2003. By comparison, NOx emissions in Travis county from motor vehicles totaled approximately 30,000 tons per year in 1996 -- the last year for which complete data was available.

3. SUV's put out 43% more global-warming pollutants (28 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon of gas consumed) and 47% more air pollution than the average car.

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