Considering that, statistically, no one commutes to work by bicycle, it’s amazing how much of the government’s time, effort, and finances are directed toward bike lanes. City streets are more likely to be torn up for underused bike lanes than for repair.
But hark! I can hear the pedalphiles bleating, “Stu says ‘no one’ uses bikes,” they will sputter, while ignoring the qualifications of the sentence that say “statistically” and “commutes to work.”
A minuscule 2.6% of Philadelphians commute to work by bicycle, according to the latest stats I could find on Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s website. It was 2.2% in 2009.
For perspective, 8.6% of Philadelphians walk to work — four times as many as who bike, yet the city is not screaming for better, safer, sidewalks. A pitiful 4.6% of Philadelphians use public transportation, while the rest use private vehicles. We need to boost mass transit useage, which benefits everyone, not just the young, male, neck tattooed, and fit, which is most cyclists.
Here’s an interesting wrinkle: to be called a bike commuter, you need use a bike only about half the time, and in the U.S., only 0.6% of commuters use bikes. That is an amazing low stat, and when you read bicycling is zooming all over the nation, what you usually see are percentages, which are fungible.
Let’s say bike commuting has risen 10% in your town. That sounds like a lot, but less so when you see the numbers have increased from 100 to 110.
What brings this to mind is a recent story that Harrisburg, under Republican control, is willing to throw some more money at bikes, but has taken a hostage.
If passed, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh might have to choose between the moola and recently passed “driver equity” laws.
It began with a decent idea: Since police stops of motorists are disproportionately Black, let’s allow cops to write a ticket and mail it, as with red-light cameras. I supported the idea.
But before the bill passed, enforcement mysteriously disappeared from the language. No more mail-in tickets. The so-called “drivers equity” had become bait and switch. Another Democratic triumph for law-breakers.
This gets added to the non enforcement of traffic laws routinely violated by bicycles, which are vehicles under state law. Red lights and stop signs are steadfastly ignored.
The proposed bill also orders municipalities to enforce all provisions of the traffic code. Naturally, the bike cult hates being told to obey the law. They don’t pollute, so they feel they should be exempt.
Here in Philly, the bike lane craziness began around 2010, I was told by the Bicycle Coalition’s Randy LoBasso, when the city went into a swoon about bicycling. The city got out the white paint buckets and attacked Pine and Spruce streets, among others, and projected 6% bicycle commuters by 2020.
I loudly doubted that would happen, and was called all sorts of names by the bikeheads. It is now 2022, and we are not halfway there — despite hundreds of miles of bike lanes and bike trails being built.
But bicycles remain a sacred cow to City Hall, which doesn’t believe the plain facts that even if you build them — bike lanes — they won’t come. The bike lane paint was followed by plastic poles, which look like blind person’s canes, and redrawing some intersections in a blizzard of really ugly lines. And now car parking to create safe lanes for bikes requires new legislation. The Republicans saw a law and order opening.
The typical bike commute is about 4 miles, which used to be called “walking.” Bikes are too susceptible to weather to ever become an “important” part of Philly’s traffic infrastructure, as Mayor Michal Nutter once foolishly said. (He lived in Overbrook Farms, about 8 miles from City Hall, but never commuted by bike.)
Philadelphians don’t want, don’t need, and won’t use bike lanes.The statistics are there for anyone to see, but members of a “green” cult aren’t really interested in facts and stats.