Monday, June 11, 2012

Responses to concerns about biking

This past week I had letters to the editor printed in the StarTribune and the SunPost regarding concerns  about bikers not currently paying fees to cover the cost of infrastructure to support bicycling and the reduction in automobile lanes to accommodate bike lanes.  My responses to these concerns follow:
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A writer fairly observed that there is considerable cost to adding bike lanes and trails to our transit system.  However I think that additional taxation aka "user fees" would be a disincentive for to getting people to change their deeply seeded habits of driving cars. 

Why shouldn't we tax bikers?   First, there is considerable environmental cost associated with motorized transportation that bikers don't incur e.g carbon emissions. On the flip side there are many physical and mental health benefits for those who choose to bike rather than drive. Finally, it also makes financial sense for us as a society to encourage/subsidize biking given the many work related and medical costs associated with our astoundingly high rate of obesity. Investing in biking is a form of preventative medicine that pays big dividends over the long run.   (Printed in StarTribune)

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A couple of residents raised concerns in the last SunPost about the addition of bicycle lanes to area roads. As an avid biker, health advocate and environmentalist, I too am concerned about the bicycle lanes, mainly that they’re not being used nearly enough.  These lanes make biking considerably more safe and enjoyable than trying to cycle and fight traffic while battling the gravel and trash that accumulates along the roadside.

However, people should beware of the many impacts biking has, should they want to give it a try.  Having become more actively in biking these past couple of years I’ve discovered the following side affects:
  •  Calories are burned, rather than fossil fuels, so both my weight and transportation costs go down
  • Creativity spikes when actively peddling
  •  Drops in blood pressure and pulse rate, with an increase in fitness level
  • Road rage is non-existent; I actually smile at other bikers and pedestrians
  • Mood elevates as I breath fresh air, hear birds and notice scenery
  • I feel like I’m “being the change” that I want to see in the world 

I would encourage readers to dust off those old Schwinn’s they have collecting dust in the garage and hit the road.  You might start with a ride around the block. With a rack and saddlebag/backpack I’ve discovered I can easily bike to the library, grocery store, meetings, church, bank and even to the dentist office.

I hope to see you enjoying the bike lane next time I’m out riding. Happy trails!   (Printed in SunPost)

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