published Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Another unwise federal subsidy for bicycle riders

There was a time when, if you wanted a bicycle, you saved up and bought one -- with your own money. Then you maintained the bicycle -- with your own money. And if you wanted to secure your bicycle when you left it somewhere, you bought a lock -- with your own money.

Today, that simple principle seems to be falling by the wayside, or by the bike path, as the case may be.

Did you read in the Times Free Press about the use of lots of your tax dollars to subsidize the choice of others who want to ride bicycles?

A multimillion-dollar federal grant is funding a program that will create a so-called "bike share" in Chattanooga. There will be more than two dozen stations around the city where, with a credit card, riders may pick up bicycles for temporary use and then return them. There are two demo stations, in front of the Chattanooga Choo Choo and at the south end of Walnut Street Bridge, but the program will have 300 bicycles at multiple stations by April.

"The public-private partnership between Alta Bike Systems and Chattanooga, funded during its first year by a $2 million federal grant, is designed to be self-sustaining after its first year," the article noted.

But if it's really a feasible idea and will be popular with the public, why not let private enterprise establish it, rather than force taxpayers to underwrite the bicycle transportation of a relative few? There is, after all, nothing in the Constitution providing for massive federal funding of such a program. And what if the program doesn't become self-sustaining after a year? Will still more tax dollars be required?

Unfortunately, this is only the latest manifestation of costly federal promotion of bicycle riding. It was recently reported that Washington would be giving bonus checks to federal employees who choose to bicycle rather than drive to work.

Bicycling is a wonderful idea, for reasons of recreation and health. But it is absurd and unconstitutional to require the many to pay for the bicycling choice of the few.

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librul said...

What a steaming pile of hypocrisy.

You realize, of course, that you're ranting against tax money being used to promote "sustainability", "economy", "urban transportation efficiency", "healthier lifestyles", etc. ad infinitum (all quite positive, actually, as reflected in the 'related articles' below wherein the paper has given glowing praise for assisted entrepreneurism.

But I'm sure you'd have no problem with those dollars being used to buy more bombs to drop on dark-skinned people around the world or cut down more forests or dam up more rivers or send to Israel to build more illegal settlements or prop up any number of evil despots who grant our corporations theft rights of their countries' resources to assure that we can "act in support of our strategic interests" in every corner of the globe. And if president Newt (gag) wanted to spend a $trillion to establish the moon as our 51st state, you'd be on board, right?

February 1, 2012 at 9:05 a.m.
heneh said...

I just bought a new bicycle with my own money and will take it to where ever I want to ride without the help of anyone else. If it is such a good idea it would be able to succeed without government money. My question to the Times Free Press is, do you not know what this is all about? Have you not heard of "Smart Growth"? The people behind "Smart Growth" and "Sustainable Development" do not like cars. They are trying to convince us to give up our autos and either walk or ride a bike. There is a resolution in the Tennessee House sponsored by Kevin Brooks that address this issue. Please do some research and find out what is going on and then report.

February 1, 2012 at 9:57 a.m.
shen said...

What about people who don't have a credit card? How can they benefit from this? Not everyone has or even wants a credit card.

February 1, 2012 at 9:32 p.m.

I wonder how much you'd care to give back of the federal auto subsidies. Not one penny, huh? What about the oil subsidies? No, not even a nickel? Huh.

shen, if it's like other programs I have heard about, if you want, you can go to the offices of the company involved, and pay cash for a pre-loaded card. You do understand that they do need some way to identify who took a given bike, I hope.

February 1, 2012 at 10:12 p.m.
Plato said...

On the one hand I think it's ironic and maybe a sign of the times, that while the Chinese are moving up to automobiles from bicycles in massive numbers, we here in the us are going the opposite direction.

On the other hand Europeans also ride bikes quite a bit and walk much longer distances than we do. As a result obesity is not much of a problem there and their per capita health care costs are less than half as much as they are here.

Maybe we can bike our way to affordable health care :)

February 1, 2012 at 10:31 p.m.
fairmon said...

Actually the grant is only about 112 million, the rest is borrowed money that will never be paid back to those it is borrowed from. It is not a bad idea to prepare people for the day they can't afford a car or fuel. Who knows it may even help the trade imbalance and it happened right here in Chattanooga.

February 2, 2012 at 12:03 a.m.
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