There is a growing agenda to spend taxpayer money on bicycle lanes on our highways and bridges. Bicycling is being promoted as “active transportation” and an alternative to using motor vehicles.
There are some self-contained environments like college campuses and inner cities where people can conveniently get to their destination by walking or bicycling. For those of us who live in the suburbs, very few people can get to their destinations by bicycle.
I recently attended a drop-in meeting seeking public input on safety and accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists. It was sponsored by Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG). There were more paid consultants in the room than citizens wishing to provide input. One of the consultants told me that there are a large number of people who depend on bicycles to get to work. I asked her if there was a survey indicating that, and she said she was not aware of one.
I was unable to reach a person from BCDCOG on the phone to find out how much money is being spent on this effort. What I do know is that there are very well-organized and well-funded bicycle advocacy groups popping up around the country, such as Charleston Moves. They have paid executive directors, web pages, e-mail networks and active social media presences. They can make it look like there is a groundswell of support for more public spending on bicycle infrastructure.
Bicycle riding is great for recreation and exercise, but existing bicycle lanes are seldom used. Most new developments have bicycle and pedestrian paths included in their designs. They do encourage more people to exercise. Just don’t force taxpayers to foot the bill!