Oh for the love of . . .
Andrea Kelly, whose journalism I have praised in the past, finished her AZ Daily Star piece on the new 4th Avenue bike-paving with this doozy:
And while many won’t care whether there’s a new strip of pavement placed where bicyclists will likely ride, plenty of others will see that as a problem and will undoubtedly remind us that bicyclists don’t pay for infrastructure.
What does it mean to be “reminded” of something? It means to be made aware, once again, of something you once knew but had forgotten.
Is she trolling for on-line comments? Because that’s what it seems like. She admits in her own article that the project is being paid for with a sales tax, and surely she does not believe that bicyclists don’t ever buy anything.
There are so many problems with the “bicyclists don’t pay for infrastructure” argument that it is hard to know where to begin. Bicyclists don’t pay gas taxes for the miles they cover on their bikes, but that’s about where it ends. They pay for infrastructure in the normal ways like through state and federal taxes.
And of course, bicyclists pay dearly for infrastructure they don’t use, just like everybody else does. I pay for schools, but have no children. I pay for a military that I wish would stay at home. I pay to subsidize various industries I loathe and whose products I vow never to use. But like everyone else I also benefit in incomprehensible ways from living in a civilized country where there is give and take, and I’m proud of it.
Bicyclists also pay for infrastructure by not harming it in the first place. People on bikes don’t take up (many) parking spaces, don’t hold you up at the light, don’t wear down pavement, and almost never kill you if they hit you.
But everybody knows all this. The “bicyclists don’t pay for infrastructure” is not an argument about facts. Facts have nothing to do with it. It’s an argument about values. And the values argument is this: bicyclists get in my way. They are different from me and just by being there they make me feel guilty and lazy for sitting around on my fat ass, and I wish they would go away. Therefore, because they make me feel lazy, I am going to call them lazy: they always want to get something for nothing. And I am going to accuse them of not paying their way to do their silly, effete, elitist activity. They don’t contribute. They aren’t Americans.