Bikes a solution? The stats say NO

You ever start reading a newspaper story and think, “Wow! They get it!, ” but read a little further and realize, nope, it’s more of the same crapola. The old “bait and switch.”

The Bicycle Coalition’s wet dream: A world with no cars

That was my experience with an Inquirer  story headlined (in the print edition) “There’s got to be a better path, ” written by Bill Hangley, Jr., a dedicated bicycle nut.

The online version carried a headline saying “It’s time to stop fighting for bike lanes, ” because they’re too small and too dangerous. (Not to mention, very, very underutilized.)

Since the Inquirer habitually hands valuable op-ed propaganda space over to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, a lobby group,  I was surprised to see a seeming deviation from the pro-bike, anti-car orthodoxy it pushes.

Hangley’s piece opens with a quote from the Coalition’s Randy LoBasso (who writes the free, pro-bike, Coalition op-eds in the paper), saying the bike lanes on the Martin Luther King Drive are insufficient. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone use them.”

His bright idea, of course, is to close the drive to cars, and turn it over to bikes. Along with pretty much everything else.

He’s had at least three bylines in the Inquirer since February 2021. 

How many free op-eds has the opposing side had? Since I stopped writing there, none that I can find, other than an occasional letter to the editor. The Inquirer likes to pretend there is no opposition.

One thing we all know about the tiny Coalition — it is effective and it is never satisfied, despite the reality that bike usage has remained basically flat for a decade, despite the addition of hundreds of miles of bike lanes that were supposed to drive biking into the stratosphere.

People commuting by bike? That’s 2.1%, according to the Coalition’s own stats.

And yet this cult thinks that more of Philadelphia’s streets ought  to be remade for the tiny percentage of bikeheads.

In 2010, the city announced a goal of having 6% of commuters use bikes by 2010.

I said for years that it would not happen. It hasn’t.

Why hasn’t it happened? I’ll let Hangley tell you, in words I have used 100 times: “Bicycles aren’t useful enough to people. Hills, distances, weather, deadly traffic — these aren’t minor concerns. Philly is home to 900,000 jobs, but only about 14,000 people bike to work regularly.” Not daily, mind you, but “regularly.”

Remember — he is a bike advocate. He suggests bigger bike lanes are one answer, but we have bigger bike lanes all over town and the number of bicyclists has barely budged. I think we’ve topped out.

At this point, Hangley goes berserk and suggests we should encourage more motorized bikes, scooters, motorized skateboards, folding mini bikes — “anything that can help us drag Philadelphia into the 21st Century.”

I would advocate unicycles, too, to help “drag Philadelphia into the 21st Century.” 😀

If you live in Center City, you have seen the proliferation of motorized bikes, which act like bicycles, meaning they ride on sidewalks and ignore red lights.

Add to that the ATV’s, dirt bikes, and other illegal vehicles that take over our roads. It is a goddamn zoo.

What we need is less illegal activity, more law enforcement and some sanity in our city planning.

One quick point: The Coalition and bikeheads seem to think that cars are an alien species. LoBasso wants to close MLK for “people,” who are already accommodated by wide sidewalks and acres of grass.

Here’s a News Flash: There are people inside the cars. Yes, people — and they have rights, too. 

The Great Bike Experiment has failed. The city had a goal of 6%. It didn’t get halfway there because bikes aren’t the solution to jammed streets. 

Mass transit is.

Forget bikes and make Septa run on time at affordable prices.

That might get people out of their cars, rather than bicycles that favor the young, male, and fit. They never have been the solution and never will be.

The facts on the Coalition’s own website prove that. 

14 thoughts on “Bikes a solution? The stats say NO”

  1. HAPPY THURSDAY !!!
    pallie,
    Well said. Do the numbers mentioned reflect the loss of one Stu Bykofsky, former regular rider ?
    We got to get you an electric three wheel bike
    Tony

  2. The Inquirer acts as if its editors are on the Bicycle Coalition’s payroll. They’ll routinely quote people on the street who favor Vision Zero alterations but nobody who sees the problems with them. Objectivity and reporting responsibility have been replaced by their leftwing AGENDA.

    1. Inquirer’s coverage almost NEVER quotes anyone in opposition to bike lanes and bike expansion. It doesn’t recognize there is an opposing point of view.
      Ditto illegal immigration.

  3. Good evening Mr. Bykofsky,

    This article is excellent & the type which leads me to comment.

    The Bicycle Coalition and other organizations representing a minority of people have successfully turned the United States of America upside down. Among other founding principals that have recently been cast to the trash heap, the idea that “the majority rules” has taken on new meaning. Using the data Mr. Hangley advanced- 900,000 total jobs in Philadelphia with 14,000 employees who “regularly” commute by bicycle, my calculator has informed me that equates to 1.5% of total commuters. Should we cater to the voices representing 1.5% of any special interest group? Sure, within reason. Should we focus 98.5% of our attention on the rest of us? Absolutely, without question.

    There are other areas which have affected the majority in our recent “through the looking glass” adoption of new standards. For example, about 90% of us (give or take a few percentage points) have a clear understanding of who we are. It’s easy for us to describe ourselves as she, he, her or him. Somehow these very traditional terms are now considered to be insensitive. So, who has to adapt in the new age? The 90-percenters, of course. There are plenty of other examples where “the majority no longer rules.”

    My remedy for all of this (thinking of you Mom & Dad)? Stay in your bike lane and mind your own business.

    Thank you for another wonderful article. Well done!

  4. The bike nuts seem to live by the adage: “If it doesn’t fit, get a bigger hammer.” Philadelphia is home of some of the worst urban thinkers in the nation. Try to recall the idea of turning Chestnut Street into a ‘closed-to-traffic’ shopping mecca, with trees, outdoor eating, and shoppers leisurely strolling from shop to shop. Hey, it’s worked in other cities, why not Philly. Here’s why: the shop owners on Chestnut Street whined that people would not walk from parking to Chestnut Street. So the city planners said, “We’ll allow buses.” Then the cab lobby griped, so they opened it to cabs. And down the drain went the idea of a Chestnut Street Mall. Not to beat a dead horse (though it feels so good), remember Willard Rouse? His frustration with the City drove him to cancel a lot of great projects. Which is why one of the great riverfronts in the nation remains only partly developed — and I-95 still rapes the area along the river.

  5. Stu,
    I love biking and still I agree with you completely. The path on MLK is more than adequate 98% of the time. I also drive. Open up MLK again so we have an alternative when the Schuylkill is jammed.
    And what a waste. I’m on Pine St. where they spent zillions to move street parking to the other side of the street and put up those plastic bollards that are already being destroyed.

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