Let’s Put Those Tired, Anti-Bike Arguments to Rest

torest

It’s inevitable. Every local news article that mentions biking, no matter how fluffy or non-controversial the article, will incite hordes of angry commenters to bring up the same tired, disproven arguments over and over again. It’s time we put those to rest.

  1. Cyclists don’t obey the rules of the road. This is probably the most frequent argument I see. Motorists complain that cyclists are constantly shirking the law by rolling through stop signs and running red lights. Sure, I see cyclists doing this when I’m out on my bike, and I sometimes do it too. When it comes down to it though, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are all people going places, and they all break laws in their own ways. Studies have show no real difference in the rate of rule-breaking between groups. Pedestrians jaywalk. Cyclists roll through stop signs and run red lights. Motorists speed, tailgate, not signal, not stop before turning right, drive while drunk, drive while distracted, and others. One group breaking laws doesn’t make it okay for any other group, but no one says that motorists don’t deserve to be on the road because they break laws. Just because you notice bikes breaking laws, doesn’t mean they are doing it any more than other modes. Rule-breaking is a human trait, not reserved for cyclists alone.
  2. Cyclists don’t pay for the roads or trails they use. This old argument gets broken out time and again. Less than a third of all road funding comes from user taxes and fees. Since 1947, spending on roads has exceeded the amount raised by user fees, such as gas taxes, tolls, and licensing fees, by $600 billion. The majority of road spending comes from the general fund, sales and property taxes. That means everyone pays for roads and highways, even if they don’t use them. And anyways, most cyclists have cars, so they do pay some of the associated user fees.
  3. Biking is bad for the economy. Having modern bike infrastructure in a city is a good thing for a lot of economic reasons. Bike infrastructure, like trails and paths, increase nearby property values. An evaluation of 12 different studies found that removing parking in business districts to install a bike lane either has a neutral effect on local businesses or increases economic activity for local businesses. Being a world class cycling city attracts young, talented people and businesses. Biking reduces healthcare costs and pollution costs, and decreases deaths due to chronic illnesses.
  4. Bike lanes cause congestion. A recent study by FiveThirtyEight, looking at specific data from Minneapolis, found that installing bike lanes increases traffic congestion minimally but not enough to cause noticeable delays. Plus, bike lanes increase the safety of roads for everyone who uses them.
  5. Bikes should get on the sidewalk. Biking on the sidewalk is unsafe. According to Bike Walk Twin Cities, “A crash analysis conducted for the City of Minneapolis for years 2006-2007 found that 39 percent of all crashes involved a cyclist entering traffic from a sidewalk or sidepath. This is far more crashes than occur from bicyclists riding the wrong way on the street (6 percent) or from blowing through red lights (7.5 percent) or stop signs (3.9 percent).” When cyclists are in the street, cars see them. If they’re crossing an intersection from a sidewalk, cars are much more likely to turn into them. Additionally, bikes and pedestrians travel at very different speeds, meaning that bikers on sidewalks have many more obstacles to avoid. In Minneapolis, it is against the law to ride a bike on sidewalks in business districts. If you want bikes to get off the road, support funding for protected bike lanes.
  6. Everyone should just get a car. This is a very privileged view of the world. Not everyone can afford to buy or maintain a car. The average cost of car ownership per year is around $8,000, transit is $1,800, and bike ownership is $300. Biking is an equitable transportation option that is accessible to many people.

Reading these same, tired, disproven arguments over and over again is really disheartening. Can’t we just agree to put aside these old arguments once and for all? Some people bike, and some people don’t. Everyone makes different choices in life, it doesn’t mean your choices are wrong if someone chooses something else. Biking is a great asset to this city. Even if you don’t bike, can’t you just recognize it’s not hurting you and let the cyclists cycle?

This post was cross posted at bikinginmpls.com.


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76 Responses to Let’s Put Those Tired, Anti-Bike Arguments to Rest

  1. Eric Anondson
    Eric Anondson July 13, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    Thank you for these. I’ve seen each. Especially the law breaking one the most, second is the “not paying their way”.

  2. Mike Sonn
    Mike Sonn July 13, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    Thank you!

  3. Joe U July 13, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    It just grinds my gears every time I hear #1. Next time a motorist gives you flak for not coming to a complete stop, tell them how ridiculous it would be to put their car in park, open the door, and put their left foot on the ground at every stop sign.

  4. Nick July 13, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    Alternatively, we could all try harder to follow the rules (to avoid hypocrisy allegations) and then take pictures of motorists running red lights . If ~10,000 cyclists (rough estimate) all submitted their photos of the worst offenders, maybe the MPD might finally have to enforce the law.

    • Rosa July 13, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

      every once in a while I spend two or three days documenting driver misbehavior as it effects me. But it just makes me so angry, I never make it very long.

      I don’t see MPD enforcing stopping before the crosswalk since police cars generally don’t. For example.

      • Nathanael July 15, 2015 at 3:07 am #

        Criminal behavior by police is a rampant problem in the US. It needs to be punished with the death penalty.

        While in uniform, police really really need to behave *better* than everyone else — to set an example. Instead, they typically behave worse.

        Police who act like they’re above the law are a threat to civilization itself, and should be executed.

        • Monte Castleman
          Monte Castleman July 15, 2015 at 7:34 am #

          How many cops do you think we’d have if they knew they’d be executed for speeding?

      • SuperQ July 15, 2015 at 3:40 am #

        When getting angry, try to apply Hanlon’s razor. Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Or in the case of being slighted by traffic violations, ignorance. Not just ignorance of the law, but ignorance of the way driving (or cycling, or walking) behavior affects those around us.

        Driving is an isolating experience, the windshield view can make what to the driver is a small thing, a big thing for the person on the other side.

        Take pitty on the person driving for being ignorant and isolated from the world around them.

        It’s the same for me with cycling. I hear about complaints about being buzzed by bikes. Even from cyclists, who may happen to be walking. What may feel like almost being hit to a person walking, feels like miles away on the bike. When riding in the city, I try and take extra care to slow down when passing or navigating around pedestrians. I know that the speed differential between us can be scary.

        • Rosa July 15, 2015 at 9:40 am #

          Oh yeah. This is the year I told my 10 year old he better be in the street on his bike unless he has a really good reason to be on the sidewalk.

          The general “I am faster/bigger so I win” part of our transportation culture is pretty terrible in general. Yesterday I saw two cyclists at a 4-way stop act just like car drivers – not stop until they were halfway in the intersection and then when that paralyzed the driver who was already stopped, just go through.

          I think it comes from car culture – the habit of edging forward toward pedestrians or cyclists or other cars, which is really threatening and rude when you’re in a 2000 pound vehicle and the other party is just a person on foot – but it’s still rude and aggressive, not to mention making four-way stops not work for anyone involved.

        • Gene August 4, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

          Well put, SQ. Thanks for the rational thoughts and welcome to the “take a deep breath” club. 🙂

  5. ClaireB July 13, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    My favorite response to the “cyclists don’t pay for infrastructure”, in addition to what the author wrote, is this:
    “If motorists want to drive to their destinations, they can pay for safe infrastructure that decreases the probability they will kill road users who do not want to drive.”
    In essence, if you’re driving a killing machine, you should pay to protect those who aren’t inside one.

  6. John July 13, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    #2 is a ridiculous argument. Bikes essentially add no cost to the system. They cause so little damage to the pavement to be negligible and painting bike lanes costs very little. If additional bike traffic takes cars off the road, it would actually save the roadway department money. Plus all the positive externalities.

    #1 is true though. There is something very blatant and galling about someone running a red light. It’s true for cars and it’s true for bikes. The difference is bikers do it at a much higher rate than car drivers do. Obviously, drivers violate rules of the road too but there’s something about running a red light that really annoys people.

    • Rosa July 13, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

      because they don’t do it?

      And I am pretty sure it’s only physical impossibility taht makes cars not run red lights as often – only the first car in line gets to (and the two or three that go ahead and turn after the light changes to red. Oh and all the ones that turn on red without coming to a complete stop. And if we’re going to be nitpicky all the people who don’t stop before the crosswalk. Oops I think that’s a majority all together.)

      The truth is, we drive culturally and not by rules. Otherwise speeding wouldn’t be so endemic.

      • Wayne July 14, 2015 at 8:36 am #

        Seriously, almost no one actually understands what a limit line is for or where it’s located. But hey, just this morning I saw several drivers roll rights on red without even remotely coming close to a stop.

        • Robert Prinz July 14, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

          This. Even when drivers stop, they usually do so within the crosswalk (ie on top of where a pedestrian would be), and even when they signal they do so during but not before the turn (ie the whole point of signaling, to warn someone about your turn in advance). And then the rest of the time they don’t actually stop or signal at all.

      • Monte Castleman
        Monte Castleman July 15, 2015 at 7:22 am #

        Probably true as far as right turns on red where it’s prohibited, but I think few drivers would go straight through a red even if given a chance. Usually the red light runners are when drivers speed up to try to make it through the yellow and don’t make it before it turns red.

        • Rosa July 15, 2015 at 9:45 am #

          You really need to spend some afternoons sitting watching traffic at intersections. Or a few months walking around, getting a view of how traffic actually behaves.

          When you’re driving, you only see a very small percentage of the other drivers, because you’re going speed of traffic for them. (Also I hope and assume you’re paying attention to your own driving.) But it is pretty typical for drivers at the tail end of any light to just go even though it’s red, at least one or two of them. And the not slowing down before turning on red is also typical.

          Like I’ve said a million times, I don’t care about the legality of it – but I do care about the safety. Idaho stops are culturally normal because they are efficient and not unsafe as long as you slowed down enough to look at what you’re doing. Not slowing down until you’re halfway into the intersection because you assume there won’t be anyone or anything in the crosswalk is inherently unsafe. They’re equally illegal but they are not equal at all.

    • Robert Prinz July 14, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

      We need to stop obsessing about red lights and stop signs, and give more attention to right-of-way violations. From my perspective, a driver cutting off a pedestrian in an unmarked crosswalk is just much worse than someone rolling a red light with nobody around, and yet most folks would have the opposite opinion, if they even knew that pedestrians are supposed to have the right-of-way even when the crosswalk isn’t painted.

      If a bicyclist runs a red while cutting someone else off, then by all means they’re a jerk and should be ticketed. But that applies even more so to all of the significantly worse right-of-way violations that drivers are responsible for on a constant basis. I’d much rather have someone look and yield but not necessarily stop, as opposed to stop but not look and yield, at least if what we want to achieve is reduced crashes as opposed to blind obedience to signs.

  7. Ron July 13, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    The bike backlash from motorist in the Twin Cities is so disheartening. I’m very tired of the whole thing. I just ride and try not to think about it anymore.

    • Ron July 13, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

      Curious if there is any large metro that has changed laws for bikes. Red light = stop sign and stop sign = yield for bikes. I recall hearing of some rural towns going to this but I might be mistaken.

      • Patrick July 14, 2015 at 8:55 am #

        Paris just changed their laws to something along those lines

      • Cyco July 14, 2015 at 9:38 am #

        Paris has actually just changed their laws on this. At selected intersections (denoted by new signs), bikes can treat both red lights and stop signs as “yield” signs: http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-09/paris-follows-path-idaho-and-lets-bicycles-run-red-lights

        • Ron July 14, 2015 at 10:05 am #

          Thanks y’all.

      • Doug July 15, 2015 at 7:20 am #

        What you describe is called the “Idaho Stop”, legal over 30 years in Idaho. So yes, Boise, city population 200,000 or thereabouts (with a larger metro surrounding it) does exactly that. http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/05/news/legally-speaking-with-bob-mionske-the-idaho-stop_371067

      • Michael July 29, 2015 at 10:50 am #

        Wisconsin passed a law a couple years back, sponsored by motorcycle interests, to allow motorcyclists and bicyclists to proceed through an unresponsive red traffic signal if there’s no cross traffic.

        Not much, but it’s a start.

    • Wayne July 14, 2015 at 8:38 am #

      I just saw an article on Slashdot about NYC asking google maps nicely to weight their algorithms to reduce left turns so maybe drivers might kill fewer children, and the comments were full of victim-blaming. It’s not just bikes, it’s pedestrians, children, anyone who dares cause them to use their brake pedal. Americans are a sick people when they can blame a child for being run over because they didn’t look carefully enough for the speeding car making a left turn without looking.

      • Ron July 14, 2015 at 8:58 am #

        I try not to be be dismayed by cycling comment sections anymore and my main strategy is not reading them. I don’t know about Slashdot but I have to think some articles are written about cycling specifically because they know it’s worth a few 100 comments about the same old chestnut from the same old desk jockeys.
        You knew what was going to be in that comment section. You went in there anyway, scooped up the poop and delivered it here. We need to stop, drop, and roll away from this scourge.
        Cool about the left turn thing and the maps though.

        • ellie July 14, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

          I can’t just ignore it. There are drivers taking the trouble to pull up beside me, roll down their window, and curse me out. I’m getting honked at and tailgated on my bike because (as has been yelled out car windows) I’m not on the sidewalk.
          Avoiding the comments section isn’t going to keep me safe from these idiots. Nor will merely following the law.

          • Ron July 14, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

            My cycling vibe depends on feeling at one with every living creature. Be the spoke, ellie. Slow on the inside while you’re fast on the outside.
            Did living w/o a car in Houston, TX help me achieve enlightenment, perhaps. But it’s achievable for everyone.
            Seriously tho, keep the mood up out there. I like – to bike. I like – to bike.

      • Rosa July 14, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

        The crazy thing is that this includes other drivers! The hatred of drivers waiting to turn left, or not turning right on red because there’s no visibility, or waiting for a pedestrian, is insane. There’s something about driving, or our driving culture, that just brings out terrible things in people.

        I actually do think it’s a general cultural thing that’s just mostly expressed in driving – the idea that slow traffic is just in the way infects people on bikes and even on foot. It’s just that they don’t kill people as much.

    • Alden July 15, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

      Yes, I live in Boise and the whole state is this way. Its really nice, and I’ve never heard of any accidents because of this.

      It does enrage some drivers from time to time, but it also means for me, if I take city streets, I’m only a few minutes slower than a car since stop-lights are much shorter wait.

      I’m surprised more cities/states don’t enact the laws like this.

      • Don July 16, 2015 at 11:33 am #

        I just think the only way that drivers will get over how cyclists ride it to make it legal. It’s practical anyway. I’m surprised it doesn’t seem to be an area of emphasis among cycling advocates in MSP.
        Thanks for the info.

  8. Nick Magrino
    Nick Magrino July 13, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    I suppose I’d say ignore, ’em, right? In any case, don’t ever seriously engage anyone commenting anonymously on anything ever.

  9. Keith Morris July 13, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    Don’t forget the speed related whining usually framed as, “If you can’t bike the speed limit then get off the road!”. It’s a speed ” limit ” not “requirement” and bikes are also legally road vehicles which don’t have to go at those speeds.

    That or it’s, “Bikes are too slow!” or “Bikes aren’t fast enough!”, yet whether on Hennepin in Uptown or Marquette Downtown I have to slow down my bike because cars are holding up traffic: I’m either going at a similar pace or riding by stopped traffic and leaving dozens of cars in the dust. How is that, “not fast enough?”.

    Motorists are enamoured with the illusion of speed. City Pages had an article on commutes and gave Isanti-Minneapolis/St Paul the worst ranking saying it takes over a half hour one-way (in ideal conditions I’m sure), but in that amount of time cyclists in the cities can reach exponentially more destinations, so although moving slower than cars zooming above 50 MPH from Isanti to the cities we actually get to many places faster here than they can.

    • Eric Anondson
      Eric Anondson July 13, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

      Regarding cars being less speedy than bikes on stoplight filled city streets, I wanted to share this experience. Driving east on 44th going from Edina to Lake Harriet, I was behind a man driving an Audi convertible who was irate there was a cyclist making use of the sharrow “accommodation” on 44th. The cyclist would slide right between all the cars right up to the stop lights, and all other drivers were comfortable staying in the lane completely and passing the cyclist who was staying far to the side of the lane out of the way of cars.

      But the Audi driver was uncomfortable passing the cyclist, oncoming traffic in the opposite direction lane was constant giving the Audi man no space to weave out into so as to pass the cyclist… so he was “stuck”. Everyone else driving passed the cyclist, but he just couldn’t make himself do it. So he berated the cyclist, and moved his Audi towards the bike making the cyclist stop pedaling out of fear for his life.

      The Audi man passed. But the next light the cyclist came up beside him and chewed him out as be passed on up to the stop light. When the light changed Audi driver grew visibly upset as he discovered he was behind the cyclist yet again. Instead of passing like all the other drivers he screams at the cyclist again for taking up space. The cyclist slows down to give the driver a glare, the Audi driver floors it to pass the cyclist and avoid a confrontation again only to be stuck behind another light and the cyclist comes up along the side of the Audi yet again.

      Some fists were shaken at each other. When the next light turned the Audi driver pulled over into a parking space to let the cyclist get so much of a head start they weren’t about to get in each other’s way.

      I felt bad for the cyclist and was getting angry myself at the driver hurling abuse at the cyclist. I was even more amuse the driver couldn’t get away from the cyclist and traffic and light timings made the bike as fast.

      • Wayne July 14, 2015 at 8:47 am #

        I’ve had similar situations, as the cyclist, except the drivers (yes this happened more than once) got out of their car and wanted to fight me. People are terrifyingly stupid and awful.

    • Rosa July 13, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

      if we took out all the drivers who don’t stay at or below the speed limit, the roads would be empty. We could use them all for basketball courts. I make a real effort to stick with the speed limit in residential areas and I still only achieve it about half the time. People drive speed of traffic and that runs 5-15 miles over, generally.

      • Nathanael July 15, 2015 at 3:10 am #

        “if we took out all the drivers who don’t stay at or below the speed limit, the roads would be empty.”
        Sounds good to me. It would be really nice for the law-abiding motorists, too!

        “We could use them all for basketball courts. ”
        I think you’d have to put up hoops, but other than that, nice idea.

  10. Cedar July 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

    I’ve been thinking about this lately because I am very concerned about #1. I cross Bryant at 32nd daily, and can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen bikers blow that stop light at top speed — including when people are waiting to cross the street. It’s not inherently an anti-bike argument to suggest that bikers — like drivers (or pedestrians) need to start following the rules and being safe. Just because crazy anti-bike ranters are also saying it doesn’t make it any less so, and I think we do need to address this issue. I suspect there are a lot of people like me who are hesitant to complain about this because we’re very supportive of biking and don’t want to be lumped in with the crazies, yet are also fed up with some bikers — a big enough number that it’s worth doing something about — doing stupid, dangerous things.

    • Eric Anondson
      Eric Anondson July 13, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

      I wonder if the Dutch cities or Copenhagen cyclists are inundated with cyclists that blow through traffic lights? Maybe that’s a good topic for a future Streets.mn post by the writers who have been there.

      We idolize cycling culture there, citing the numbers of cyclists, the amounts of infrastructure, the accommodations made for cyclists, etc. A great fear of drivers right now is imagining the hordes of cyclists misbehaving the same as they do now but in ever more massive numbers.

      Would Dutch-like and Danish-like numbers of cyclists be a self-reinforcing culture that ends up becoming a social disincentive to violate traffic laws at red lights?

      Then again, I always abide traffic lights no my bike. But I’m going to roll through stop signs all the time unless a car is there too, only then will I stop at a stop sign.

      • Kathy July 14, 2015 at 8:06 am #

        We cycled in Copenhagen two years ago and spent a whole month cycling in Denmark. They have traffic lights in the major cities specifically made for bicycles which are timed for a specific pace. If you run the light and get caught, which happens, you will be fined They have some tough laws and fines and we were given the heads-up by several cyclists. The cyclists were a bit annoyed with our cycling in bike traffic with our touring gear because it slowed them down. It is a cycling culture and the laws favor the cyclist. The vehicle drivers will not rush to turn right in front of a cyclist, even if the cyclist is on a bike path next to the road. However the cyclist must use the bike path if there is one next to the roadway. We downloaded the Danish cycle laws before we began our journey.
        Another nice thing for cyclists in Denmark is that it is the law that a business must allow the cyclist to use their toilet and get water if they ask. We did that many times once we found out.

      • Wayne July 14, 2015 at 8:49 am #

        If you have sensible rules and infrastructure for a mode, there’s a lot less incentive to flout the law.

        Except, I guess, for drivers–who get all the infrastructure and a pretty lax set of rules they still can’t obey.

      • Patrick July 14, 2015 at 9:00 am #

        While there are stop lights, traffic circles let everyone “blow through” intersections safely 😀

        • Rosa July 14, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

          Not safely. I live right by the traffic circle at 17th Ave & 34th street and it is much less safe for pedestrians than the old 4-way stop there, which people at least slowed down for. Lots of drivers don’t even slow down for yield signs, plus there’s a subset of quite young men who spent this spring seeming to see just how fast they could go through the curve (it stopped once summer started. Maybe they were all South High students?)

          And, being slow on a bike because I was with a slow kid, I have had a cyclist entering the circle after me say “I’m coming through!” instead of slowing down for us. Which is the exact same attitude. that’s not how the circles are supposed to work!

    • Rosa July 13, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

      we are at a point where there’s enough bike traffic that blowing stop signs (as opposed to the super common “slow down and go if there’s no reason not to) is getting to be a problem.

      Of course we’ve been at that place with car traffic not stopping for pedestrians or looking before turning, for my entire life.

      I think as long as that isn’t your go-to response every time a bike related issue comes up, you’re not part of that problem.

      • Wayne July 14, 2015 at 8:50 am #

        We need to start a ‘hammertime’ club or something where we just carry hammers as pedestrians and start smashing out windows of cars that try to run us over.

        Except touching someone’s car is apparently the most offensive and illegal thing you can do, unless you’re going under its wheels.

        • Patrick July 14, 2015 at 9:06 am #

          20 feet from a stop sign, I was out controlling the lane preparing for a left, when all of a sudden a car blows by me ON THE RIGHT, the only thing I could do in my surprise was spit. The driver loved this and we yelled about how much we loved each other’s actions for a little while, during which I found out that spitting on a car is a felony and that I was lucky he’s not a hothead anymore otherwise I’d be on my back

          • Rosa July 14, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

            It’s only a felony if it’s a cop car. Was it an undercover cop?

    • Gene August 4, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

      One thing the “Idaho Stop” law did, along with allowing a person on a bike to treat stop signs as yield signs, was to increase (double, I believe) the fine for “blowing through” a stop sign. That’s obviously when it becomes truly dangerous.

  11. Rachel Q July 14, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    Yes! This article is excellent. I’ll keep this bookmarked to share with all the haters.

  12. David Markle
    David Markle July 14, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    The lead picture does appear to show someone riding on the sidewalk!

    The following article in today’s NY Times should interest and please cyclists:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/14/science/the-bicycle-and-the-ride-to-modern-america.html

    • Mike Sonn
      Mike Sonn July 14, 2015 at 11:40 am #

      Probably a MUP, the picture has been used for tons of articles. Just GIS it.

  13. Simon July 14, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    The biggest flaw with argument #2 isn’t that it’s false, but that it’s irrelevant. Roads are a public resource, one of many such services available users without regard to who paid however much for them. To argue that cyclists have no right to use them if they didn’t pay to maintain them is no different than arguing that visitors to the city should not be able to use parks or enjoy police protection while here.

    This argument is only sensible to a person who sees all social relations as interactions in a marketplace. The correct response to such a person is not to protest that cyclists do in fact pay taxes, but to explain to them that they don’t know what it means to live in civil society.

    • Monte Castleman
      Monte Castleman July 15, 2015 at 7:32 am #

      Visitors to a city pay to use transit though, and to use the roads if they buy gasoline. I’m not sure bicycles using the road is more like visiting a park in another city or using their transportation infrastructure.

      Having said that though, I’m as pro-car as just about anyone and I’d wish the people advocating for this would just shut up. I was one of the few people actually registering my bicycle and it was royal pain to have to go down to the DMV. The revenue collected just isn’t worth the nuisance to all involved.

  14. lop July 14, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    Cars cost $8,000? That the AAA number? That’s for new cars kept for just five years. If everyone did that the fleet age would be 2.5 years not more than 11 ( and it would cost even more because you’d have nobody to sell the car to after five years) Take reported auto related expenses from BLS consumer expenditure surveys and divide by the number of cars and you get a mean average not much higher than $2,500 per car per year. Still unaffordable for some, and a burden for many. But not as bad as $8,000 would be.

    • John Murphy July 14, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

      What you ignore is the amortized cost of a critical incident. If you are killed in a car crash, that cost is effectively infinite. Only 35,000 or so meet this criteria per year in the US, but that cost should be divided across the motoring public.

      On a larger level, if you crash and total your car, you will have one time expenses, and probably medical bills. If that never happens, your cost is zero. If it happens once, it could run thousands per year of your life.

      Then factor in things like “lawyer bill from a DUI”.

    • Nathanael July 15, 2015 at 3:13 am #

      Spending on cars is wildly unbalanced, though, and *not* in favor of the poor. In fact, the people who are keeping their cars for 11 years are mostly keeping cars which have poor fuel economy and require lots of maintenance — they are quite likely to be spending well over $8000 a year overall.

  15. Mark Nockleby July 14, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    It’s true, when sidewalk cyclists cross intersections they less likely to be seen by motorists than if the cyclists were to use the street, and motorists are much more likely to turn into the sidewalk cyclists. That’s what make cycling on the sidewalk less safe than the street.

    But the cycling in “protected” bike lanes share the same defects as cycling on the sidewalk. They are less visible to motorists at intersections.

    • Eric Anondson
      Eric Anondson July 14, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

      At least Lindsey got some link credit there!

      I had a thought about the the quantity of drivers blowing red lights vs blowing stop signs. I see drivers rolling through stop sign as fast as cyclists do about as frequently.

      But if we include highway ramp meter traffic lights, I think there is a high chance there are more drivers blowing red lights than cyclists do in the Twin Cities.

      • Rosa July 14, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

        it’s a dumb argument, though. I don’t care if what a driver does is legal, as long as it’s not dangerous. It’s legal to turn left on green without looking at where you’re going, but it runs down pedestrians; the same driver turning left on red would probably look closer (though that’s terrifying to watch, I see it at the Hwy 55 crossings all the time. So dangerous for the drivers!)

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller July 17, 2015 at 9:39 am #

        It’s a rarity to see a driver actually stop at any of the stop signs at Willow and Grant by Loring Park.

        Which is generally fine, except that any time I hear someone complain about bikes not stopping I want them to sit next to that intersection for a half hour during morning rush hour.

    • Julie Kosbab July 14, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

      It appears to be against our Creative Commons, because we say no derivatives: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

  16. Bill Basford July 14, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    About that third lame excuse, that bikes are bad for the economy: If you take a close look at the numbers, it is cars that are really bad for the local economy, not bikes, especially if you live in an area that has no automobile or oil production.

    For example, there are no auto assembly plants left in the New England States, or any of the Northeastern States for that matter, and when local assembly plants close, local auto parts plants are suddenly at a big disadvantage, and most of them close also. Furthermore, there are no oil wells or refineries in all the New England states either, so up to 85% of all the direct spending on automobiles in the New England states leaves the region. For the State of Maine, with only about 1.3 Million people, the annual economic losses from keeping all the automobiles going is about $8.5 Billion per year!

    There aren’t many bicycles built in New England either, but the typical new bicycle costs less than 2% of the typical new car, and bicycles don’t require any gasoline or Diesel fuel to keep them going. The end result is that the estimated ten year cost of a bicycle is probably around one percent of the ten year cost of a new car.

  17. Clark Starr July 14, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    In all my years of driving, I can maybe remember 2-3 times when a cyclist did something illegal that I saw as dangerous (usually to them, but who wants the headache?). This constant complaint about “blowing” red lights or stop signs is simple jealousy I think. The cars are stopped there in line, knowing they’ll be stopped again in a minute or so at the next light. And if there is no cross traffic, bikes are blowing the light. I used to bike commute to work in the Chicago loop, you don’t “blow” lights and stop signs when you might get killed. I think for 99.99% of bicyclists here that’s the same attitude. If it was as bad as everyone says it is, there’d be loads more dead bikers around.

    • Rosa July 15, 2015 at 9:52 am #

      drivers imagine cyclists blowing stop signs all the time. I live near a corner that is just a two-way stop and I used to get yelled at all the time for not stopping when I was on the street that didn’t have a stop sign. Also for making left turns on red from a one-way to a one-way, which was a part of my daily commute for years and is perfectly legal here. And that’s without even getting into whether people can tell you’ve stopped moving if you don’t put your feet down – something that says such negative things about depth perception among drivers that I really worry a lot of them don’t have good enough vision to drive safely.

  18. John Murphy July 14, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    How could you possibly ignore “cyclists should be licensed and have their bikes registered”. That way everyone who sees a cyclist run a stop sign can call 911 and the police will quickly be able to track down the offender based on their license plate.

  19. David July 15, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

    A healthy economy is synonymous with wastefulness and an unhealthy environment, so I don’t mind if my cycling is not good for the economy. Ok, the article says that bike infrastructure is good for the economy, but also talks about how much more money driving costs than biking. Isn’t simply spending more money (driving) good for the economy?

  20. David Svengalis July 16, 2015 at 12:09 am #

    How about the fact that cyclists are not required by law to register their bikes or get any kind of license or safety training to operate their bike? Any idiot with a hundred bucks or a pair of bolt cutters can acquire a bike and cause problems. Yeah, some motorists might run a red light while trying to make a yellow, but how often do you see a car just ROLL through a light that’s been red for two minutes. Never. And I see bikes doing that daily. Bikes and riders should be registered and licensed and TICKETED if they’re breaking the law. Cars have to do that, why not bikes?

    • Lindsey Wallace
      Lindsey Wallace July 16, 2015 at 6:51 am #

      Because cars are dangerous vehicles that can values severe property damage and loss of life. Bicycles are tools available to all ages and income levels to be used for transportation. It is extremely rare for a bike to cause injury or death to someone besides the rider. Additionally, fees or licensing may deter people from riding which is a bad idea since biking is a boon for public health by decreasing health care costs and unnecessary deaths, and by improving air quality.

      Cyclists can still be pulled over by a police officer even without a bike license, but even so this kind of enforcement is very rare due to the low risk of injury to others.

    • Matt Steele
      Matt Steele July 16, 2015 at 10:30 am #

      David, sounds like you need to get on bicycle and take a relaxing ride!

  21. Jordan July 16, 2015 at 8:13 am #

    I love this post, but there are a lot of numbers and not a lot of citations. Could you please provide your sources so that I can share? Thanks!

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    […] Let’s Put Those Tired, Anti-Bike Arguments to Rest generated a huge amount of traffic and large number of comments by calmly and concisely providing counterarguments and evidence to debunk the familiar anti-bike complaints which appear in the comment sections of pretty much every article about bikes. Streets.mn commenters, however, do not perpetuate the stereotype (well, almost…there was one comment about bikes blowing stop signs), but step up with thanks, some additional corroboration, suggestions for change and a few personal stories. […]

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