John Kass, in his op ed for the Trib, has decided that Chicago improving their bike lanes is a big fucking fiasco. Which, of course, it is- if you make the same assumptions that John Kass does.
1. That bicyclists are only rich hipsters
2. That this is Rahm trying to appease a national audience for presidential run
3. That the bike lanes are useless
4. That the money would honestly go to a place where it was really needed
Kass lays out his ideas to make millions of dollars off of bicycle commuters because he presumably gets mad at them while out in traffic. He doesn't like when they blow through stop signs, which I get and share his sentiment. He doesn't like that he has to pay to park, to register his vehicle, and to do all the other expensive things that make having a car in the city really unattractive. You know, all of the things that make biking worth it.
Sure, let's make bikes pay for parking. Because we make so much money off of parking revenue-- oh, that's right. We sold our parking already!
The argument is basically, "We [cars] pay, why don't they [bikes] pay?" Or, better phrased, "it's hard to be well off."
The problem with trying to tax bikes like car, to make people register, to do all of the things that John Kass presents in his tongue-in-cheek, "I like the grunge look" article, is that bikes are not cars. Did I blow your mind? No?
Bikers already have to deal with the same shitty roads that drivers have to navigate, but with less suspension and speeding cars to their left and assholes throwing their doors open on the right. Bikes tend to lose battles when they meet their far larger counterparts in collisions and doorings. More bikes lanes is a nice way to save lives, not to mention health care dollars.
Speaking of saving dollars, we tend to, as a nation, offer monetary incentives to those who do things like limit their emissions, take care of their health, etc. Putting a financial burden onto people who are doing something that benefits the rest of the city is a little ass-backwards (despite being a cherished American value by some of the more well-off). Less cars in the traffic jam, more places to park-- things that even Kass could appreciate.
But, still, boiled down to its core, Kass' argument is that the free ride should be over for bikers. No matter what their reason, no matter what their biking is doing for anyone else; if bikers want more support for the government, more handouts, then it's time for them to pitch in. Bikes need to stop being "the One Percenters of the commuter class."
It's the same tired bullshit that conservatives say about welfare programs. Remove the bike lanes part and:
"But if you have a brain, you must also realize that when politicians start handing out government perks — like special bike lanes costing millions — it's only a matter of time until people become addicted to them."
becomes the exact same argument. It's blind complaining that the city is spending money on something that doesn't directly benefit the one complaining. As if Chicago needs to only spend millions of dollars jerking off privileged, car-driving, tribune writers.
There are a lot of problems with how the city is spending its money. There are a lot of things that the city does in the name of saving money that are fairly fucked up (shutting down the red line on the south side to save, incidentally, the same amount of money they are spending on the bike lane project). But that doesn't mean that we should turn a blind eye to the big picture and start blindly regulating and taxing things that will actually help in the long run (now I sound like a conservative…). If anything, we should be encouraging people to ride their bikes more frequently. If not for environmental impact, or to get our fat asses back in shape, to remind people how to do it for when the CTA inevitably crumbles and we have no other options.
Bikers aren't the One Percenters because they don't have to pay for a city sticker- only a complete tool would think that. Bikers are people who find the exorbitant CTA fares to be unreasonable and think that spending nearly five dollars a gallon on gasoline is a stupid idea. Biking is free. Biking is the tool of the proletariat! Sure, there are assholes cruising around old town on their $3,000 bikes. But there are tons more oiling the chain on their 70's Schwinn that they've had for ten years, keeping it running so they can get to work.
Really, in essence, John Kass is probably just jealous that he can't ride a bike more than ten feet without getting winded. Put down the Venti latte, John, and come out with the rest of us.