Today the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on the ongoing efforts of St. Charles County Councilman Joe Brazil (R-Defiance) to get bikes banned from rural Southwestern St. Charles country roads – seems he listens closely to those folks who resent having to share the road with bicyclists. As a person who frequently commuted to work by bicycle when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area – where, incidentally, droves of bicycles regularly share narrow, curving mountain roads with cars with few accidents – I could easily visualize the type of folks who might complain.
I have vivid memories of elderly people on deserted streets who, despite having acres of space in which to pass me as I hugged the side of the street, instead reduced their speed to a crawl and made exasperated faces and gestures as they followed me slowly along the street. Or the teen-age girls who yelled obscenities at me as I followed prescribed procedure for making a left-hand turn in traffic. This didn’t happen too often in Palo Alto, and the perpetrators were not people whom one would accord much credibility. In retrospect, however, their rather irrational sense of entitlement suggests that they might have been just the type of folks who would be at home at a Tea Party – which could explain our Republican pol’s concern for their druthers rather than those of bike riders.
Such speculation is spurious, of course, but it does seem that I might not be too wrong about many anti-bicyclists’ political sympathies. According to TPM, the Denver Post is reporting that a Tea Party friendly gubnatorial candiate, Don Maes, is opposing a public bicycle program in Denver as one more encroachment of the evil United Nations. In Maes own somewhat breathless words:
At first, I thought, ‘Gosh, public transportation, what’s wrong with that, and what’s wrong with people parking their cars and riding their bikes? And what’s wrong with incentives for green cars?’ But if you do your homework and research, you realize ICLEI* is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty,” he said. Well then: it all becomes clear
Now that I understand what’s going on, I guess it means that there’s no point in my petitioning to keep trucks off the roads because sharing road space with them is so unpleasant and potentially unsafe. We know who counts in Missouri, and they’re not usually Prius drivers.
* ICLEI: Denver is a member of the ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives), an international association that according to the Denver Post article “promotes sustainable development and has attracted the membership of more than 1,200 communities, 600 of which are in the United States.” – Denver’s membership, however, predates the current Mayor’s public bicycle program.