This Week in the Mercury


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

License Bicycle Riders!

Posted by Dan Savage on Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Gas taxes! Car tab fees! Drivers pay to use the roads! So why shouldn't cyclists? Um, because cyclists pay to use the roads already and they subsidize the roads for drivers, the ultimate welfare queens:

That same media is also littered with driver self-pity over the high costs of driving and there is a false perception that driving is exorbitantly expensive. It is a bit ironic because drivers are actually the prime beneficiaries of socialism in North America, and our gas prices are among the cheapest in the world.... From subsidies given to oil companies to produce cheap oil, to government bailouts/ownership of auto manufacturers, to road construction and maintenance on streets that cost nothing to use, to highly subsidized parking spaces, to government health care costs associated with pollution from automobiles, to the detrimental health that results from sedentary lifestyle that cars promote, to the vast government policing forces required to enforce our streets: it is undeniable that driving places enormous costs on our society, and this cost is highly subsidized by our government.

Unlike other forms of socialism that benefit society as a whole, the benefits of motorist socialism are outweighed by our roads being overly congested, our air polluted and the growth of alternative modes of transportation are stifled.

Furthermore, the perception that drivers somehow "overpay" for the privilege to use our streets is one of the root causes of animosity that some motorists have that reduces or eliminates their willingness to share a small part of the roads with bicyclists. In reality, people who seldom drive cars are subsidizing those who use the roads most....

To further illustrate this point, we can compare the cost of a litre of gasoline to that of a one-way ticket on public transit. In China a litre of gasoline ($0.946) is almost 3 times the cost of a one-way ticket on local public transport ($0.32). In the United States a one-way ticket on public transit ($1.94) is almost double the cost of a litre of gasoline ($1.00).

We have kept gasoline and driving in general artificially cheap in an effort to attempt to sustain the “American Dream”. Meanwhile, people are sitting in their cars for hours each day—stuck in traffic—wondering whether they’ve been sold on a false promise.

Via Sullivan. And for far more on this subject, check out the Mercury's "Republican Guide to Bicycling."

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