Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has a plan for you heathen gasoline-operated vehicle operators. In the future, walkers and bikers will receive treatment equal to motorized vehicle drivers.
This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of nonmotorized.
Sounds ominous, yet, vaguely familiar. Is this the new civil rights battle?
This new philosophy on road life is meant to address future policy. When you lay that next stretch of road, you should throw in a bike lane for good measure. You’d pretty much have to wait for the road of your choice to come up for reconstruction, considering it costs anywhere from $5,000-$50,000 per mile to add a bike lane to an existing road.
It’s a nice idea but I wonder how useful it is. I once watched an episode of NOW on PBS that addressed how cars changed our culture. After the car became readily available, our approach to building changed. Since people had a somewhat efficient means of getting to a workplace, we then centralized our workplaces and created cities. People lived outside the cities and used their new four-wheel boxes to travel to the city.
So what does this mean?
Our cities are not necessarily able to expand the roads to include bike lanes. Most downtown areas I’ve seen have sidewalks (not always well maintained sidewalks, but sidewalks nonetheless). There is a building, a sidewalk, and then the road. Where do we add a bike lane in the future?
Sometimes when we have good intentions in adding bike lanes, we still fail.
There are benefits to bike lanes, of course. I’m all for biking for exercise or recreation. But this policy change proposal just seems a little too unicorn-ish. Nice in theory, but hard to implement. Unless we can scrape together more money.
Maybe the Fed can just roll a few more sheets of money off the press. They seem fond of that.