Monday, March 16, 2009


I was re-reading a post on The Bike Nazi blog, and was struck by something in the article. The topic under scrutiny is Idaho's allotment of stimulus funding. Bikeboy is a Boise resident and 20-year bike commuter. He is also not a liberal, but I will get into that part of the conversation in a few lines.

Apparently when the notion of spending some $ on bicycle paths came up, Otter's budget man, Wayne Hammon, said, "The future of Idaho is not contained in the North End." Instead of bike paths, Otter wants to go with landscaping on I-84.

This struck me because of some other bike-related comments made by republican politicians regarding stimulus funding. There were republicans who tried to block funding of bike paths or bike lanes, which seemed odd, because these are projects that can generally be started and completed in relatively short order. John Boehner said specifically that the stimulus should not be used for bike lanes.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the federal government should build me a bike lane. My concern is the idea of singling out bicyclist as liberals or bicycle infrastructure as a liberal agenda item. Wayne Hammon was not referring to Boise's North End as a place for bike paths but as a bastion of liberalism, it is known as "an island of blue in a very red state."

So does thinking that developing bicycle infrastructure would be more beneficial to the overall economy and to the citizens of the state than freeway landscaping make me a liberal? I doubt it. Anyone who knows me should know that I am not a liberal. Even thinking that bikes are better for the environment than SUVs does not make me a liberal. What would make me a liberal would be telling you that you have to park your SUV and ride a bike because it is better for the environment.

I am not a democrat, a progressive, a liberal or even an environmentalist just because I like to ride my bike and think that commuting by bike is very beneficial, feasible, and something ought to be encouraged. I am a practical minded conservative who believes that things like bike lanes are beneficial to society, but that if a community wants or needs them, they should be locally funded. However, if federal money is on the table anyway, it seems to me that it could be better spent encouraging cycling through improved infrastructure than by planting trees and grass on I-84.

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