One of the most unfortunate aspects of transportation policy in the United States is that it winds up playing as a “culture war” issue. It’s a contingent aspects of American life that the sort of people likely to live in walkable urban areas are overwhelmingly liberal, and this creates large distortions in the discourse around what should be rather dry policy debates. For example, John Hickenlooper is running for governor of Colorado. He’s currently mayor of Denver. And like many mayors, he’s acted recently to promote bicycling as a way to get around the city. There’s no particular reason that “100 percent of the space on roads should be allocated for the use of motor vehicles rather than bicycles” should be an article of faith of conservatism (you won’t find it in Hayek or Burke or what have you) but in practice it often is, so you get this kind of nonsense:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are “converting Denver into a United Nations community.”
“This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed,” Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.
Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor’s efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes “that’s exactly the attitude they want you to have.”
I don’t really think bike commuting is going to take America by storm next week, but it is a cheap and healthy way to get around that will appeal to some people. And since in addition to being cheap and healthy, it’s also better for air quality than driving a car, it makes perfect sense for municipal leaders to try to ensure that transportation infrastructure accommodates cyclists.