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Myths Debunked: People On Bikes Don’t Pay For The Roads They Use

Written by Boston Biker on May 02

Livable Streets is running a great series on debunking myths, really liked this one.

from the email:

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Over the next four months, we’ll be debunking common transportation myths. Last month we highlighted the myth: Driving is a priority among American youth. This month, we explore another popular myth.

mythMyth: People biking don’t pay for the roads they use.

Debunked: Every person who pays taxes pays for our roads. 

The gas tax, tolls, and automobile registration fees, which many people believe funds a majority of road construction and maintenance, only fund about half of the nation’s road expenses. The remaining costs are covered through general tax revenue.

Two other facts to keep in mind:
1. Many people who bike also own a car and are paying the “user fees” mentioned above.
2. The negative externalities to biking are very minimal compared to the congestion, road damage and car crashes that are associated with driving.


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The Myth Of The Law Breaking Cyclist

Written by Boston Biker on Aug 14

I had one of those light bulb over your head moments today.

With all the silly stories in the Globe lately, the general talk among people I meet, and even people commenting here my mind has been working overtime on the following problem: “What can we as cyclists do about the rampant law breaking going on among our peers.” I started thinking, should we use peer pressure, should we push for ticketing, should we this or should we that. I was really racking my brain about what “we could do.” Then something strange happened.

roadrage1

I was out for a nice easy recovery ride after my little trip to The Cape, I had moved over to the left lane because a bus had “asserted its right” to the right lane (basically it just shoved itself in there, what was I going to do, its a f-ing bus, they win), ahead of me the light turned red, so me, the bus, and everyone behind me and the bus came to a stop (as people are wont to do at red lights). Suddenly the jerk behind me in the passenger seat reaches over and begins to honk the horn (for his wife who was sitting there calmly) and begins to scream at me out of the window. I show him the red light, he continues to rage, I show him my middle finger, he loved that. He voiced his opinion that I should get out of the road because I was slowing him down (and other incomprehensible mumblings about hurting me and killing me) I asserted that he was an impatient jerk and that if he continued to threaten me I was going to have to assert my right to use the entire lane (upside his head) and I also made it clear that I was capable of defending myself and will not sit ideally by while he issues threats of violence (PS. his kids were in the back seat while he ranted, I used no profanity and never raised my voice). He ranted, I called him a impatient jerk and told him he was a horrible example for his children. The light turned green, he instructed his poor wife to speed off…only to be stopped at the next red light in about 100 feet (Harvard square I love you), and that is when the light bulb went off in my head.

You run red lights, they complain, you stop at red lights they threaten to run you over. I realized that this whole “concerned motorist” horse puckey, is just that, horse puckey. Several other motorists sat and watched this lunatic threaten to kill me because I STOPPED at a red light. Did they wonder “what will cyclists think about our road-user group” or “how can we present a better image of ourselves” or “what will the general public think of us if this man gives a bad name by behaving like this.” Hell no they didn’t.

Pedestrians don’t worry that they are going to give pedestrians a bad name when they walk out into traffic (a group of them almost got killed not 10 feet from me today because all of them looked left and then walked into traffic, the only reason they were not all flattened by that cab was because I screamed “STOP HEY STOP!”). Motorists certainly don’t give two hoots about what the general public will think when they make turns with no signals, get waaaay to close to cyclists as they pass, speed, open doors into oncoming traffic, and all the other great things they do every day to endanger themselves and others just so they can get to work 1 minute faster.

I say “we cyclists” stop caring as well. When someone tells you “I see so many cyclists run red lights” tell them “No you don’t you see a series of individuals that choose to break the law” If someone says to you “cyclists this” or “cyclists that” tell them “bullshit, there is no ‘cyclists’ in the same way there is no ‘motorists’ or ‘pedestrians’ there is only individual people who choose to obey or disobey the law.”

By placing people into big anonymous groups (motorists, cyclists, pedestrians) we are overlooking the personal responsibility of each user. ‘Cyclists’ are not to be blamed, individuals who break the law are. I think we should bring it down to a personal level. For instance when that asshole behind me was talking about running me over because I had the audacity to follow the law I didn’t blame all motorists, I got right up in his face and blamed him. It wasn’t the guy behind him in the car that made him act like a violent asshole. Similarly if you drive a car and you see some guy on a bike run through a red light, don’t blame cyclists, blame that guy.

So the question was “What can we as cyclists do about the rampant law breaking going on among our peers.”, and the answer is NOTHING. There is nothing you can do to make someone you have never met and will most likely never meet follow the law. You can’t make them behave, and you shouldn’t be asked to. It is an unreasonable request. If someone ever says that to you, ask them what car drivers can do to make sure other car drivers behave, the answer NOTHING. The only thing you can do is follow the law yourself. If you stop at red lights, if you signal your turns, and get in the correct lane, if you yield to pedestrians, if you follow the rest of the relatively few laws bikers and drivers are supposed to follow, you are doing enough. You can’t make everyone else behave, and you shouldn’t be asked to.

daltondyt

There are simply a whole lot of individual people (walkers, bikers, drivers) who are impatient, assholes. Lets be frank, they want to go where they want to go, and they want to do it right now, and they don’t give a damn who gets in the way, or what happens when they break the rules. You can’t change the way they act. The only thing we can do is change your own behavior. If you don’t like it when people make turns with no signal on, next time you get in a car, turn that signal on. If you don’t like it that people on bikes run red lights, next time you get on a bike don’t run red lights.

Boston has a problem, an attitude problem. People love to act like jerks. They are like little kids. Me Me Me! Me first, my desires are more important than yours, the rules don’t apply to me. This expresses itself in a lot of ways on the street, no matter what mode of transportation they use. We can’t change these peoples behavior. But if we want a different reality, if we desire a more useful transportation system, if we want streets that are not filled with violence and anarchy, we have to change. That change starts with our own behavior.


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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Quincy Is Co-Hosting Traffic Skills Cycling Course With MassBike February 8, 2018
      TweetFrom the email: Hello Quincyclists, I would like to announce that Quincy is co-hosting a League of American Bicyclists’ Smart Cycling Traffic Skills 101 class on April 7 and 8. Please join us! Register here: http://www.massbike.org/ts101quincy This Traffic Skills 101 Cycling … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Last all To Submit Comments For Allston I-90 DEIR February 7, 2018
      TweetFrom Livable Streets: Are you willing to wait 22 years for your train to show up? Now is the time to let state leaders know that we can’t afford to wait. The Allston I-90 Interchange project can transform access and mobility for … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Hubway Winter Update February 2, 2018
      TweetFrom Hubway:   Hubway had a winning January! This past month, Hubway riders took over 40,000 trips, more than double the January record. Want to try out winter riding? You don’t need to be tough — you just need to be … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Speak Up For Zoning Reform In MA! February 1, 2018
      TweetFrom Livable Streets: Did you know that the last time Massachusetts updated its zoning laws was in 1975? We need your help today to ensure that our future includes responsible planning for great neighborhoods! Contact Massachusetts legislators and let them know that we … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • My e-mail in support of West Station January 31, 2018
      TweetAlexander Strysky is the reviewer for the Massashusetts Environmental Protection Agency reviewer for the I-90 Interchange project in Allston. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has backed off from plans for prompt construction of  anew West Station on the Framingham-Worcester commuter-rail … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • My letter to the Globe about the Kurmann fatality January 31, 2018
      TweetI’ve read the Op-Ed piece by Andrew Fischer and Alan Wright, “Killing Bicyclists should be a crime” in the Sunday, January 28 Globe. I agree with Wright and Fischer that a charge of involuntary manslaughter against the trucker in the … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • My letter to the Globe aobut the Kurmann fatality January 31, 2018
      TweetI’ve read the Op-Ed piece by Andrew Fischer and Alan Wright, “Killing Bicyclists should be a crime” in the Sunday, January 28 Globe. I agree with Wright and Fischer that a charge of involuntary manslaughter against the trucker in the … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Take Action! Support Safe Streets Legislation January 31, 2018
      TweetFrom livable streets: Next Wednesday, February 7th is the deadline for legislative committees to act on bills, and An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities remains in front of the Joint Committee on Transportation. Will you help us make Massachusetts streets safer for all? The … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Bikes Not Bombs Update January 31, 2018
      Tweet Save the Date for our Bike-A-Thon! It’s official, our 31st Annual Bike-A-Thon will be on Sunday, June 10th, 2018! There are 4 routes to choose from again this year: 10, 30, 50, and 100 miles. Keep checking our website for updates about … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • BCU Looking For Board Members January 30, 2018
      TweetFrom Their Website: Boston Cyclists Union: Board Member Job Description Purpose: Provide governance to the Boston Cyclists Union organization, stewarding and protecting its mission, while representing the organization to the community and accepting ultimate legal authority for it. Mission:  We’re helping Bostonians … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker