Thursday, October 24, 2013

An open letter to Alderman Pat Dowell

Dear Out of Touch Alderman Pat Dowell,

Thank you for bringing the topic of bicycle safety to the front of the City’s attention. No one would argue against bicycle education as an important part of keeping our city as bike friendly as it is. This is, unsurprisingly, the only thing you got right about bikes in Chicago.

You see, Alderman Dowell, you don’t seem to understand what it would cost to man and train a safety program like this. You do not seem to understand how much it would cost to keep a licensed registry of bikes in this way. You do not seem to understand the basic differences between bikes and cars. You assume that the hilarious guess of $5 million the city would potentially receive in registrations would manage to pay for the program. It is clear, as you said yourself, that you did not think this through.

Plus, there’s already a bike registration program that costs the correct amount of money, $nothing. And that program isn’t acting as a money making Ponzi scheme, it’s acting on the behalf of bikers. To try to recover lost bikes. And it’s not exactly the world’s best system anyway.

And besides, Alderman Dowell, where is this money going? To prevent a 2% increase in cable tax? A negligible amount for an amusement (cable is, after all, an amusement. An unnecessary diversion). Instead, you will put the burden on those who bike for any number of reasons including, but not limited to, a diversion/amusement, affordable transportation, fitness, or convenience. Better not to have to pay two extra percent on a TV bill? This is sad and pathetic. You say television can be people’s only form of entertainment when they can’t afford to go to the movies or to a play, but what of the people who ride their bicycles, year round, because they can’t afford the CTA? Which is more important, Alderman, getting to spend a marginal amount less on TV, or making it to work?

You say that, as a bike owner, you would not be opposed to paying a fee. This is insulting and vile of you, Alderman. Your salary last year was $114,913. Obviously a $25 fee would mean nothing to you. But when you work minimum wage, which pulls in $288 dollar a week (before taxes) in a city with ever-increasing rent and an 11% sales tax, $25 is a lot of money. Not to mention time to both get the license (if you haven’t been to the DMV recently, take a trip over and see how wonderfully streamlined of a process it is. I’ll wait. Or better, I’ll come back in a couple days when you finally make it to the front of the line) and fit in the safety class (you’d have to have 38 classes a day, Monday through Friday to get all of the 250,000 bikes you figured done in one year).

So, let’s recap. An out of touch, rich politician who cares more about TV than transportation would like to create a bureaucratic nightmare instead of letting an amusement tax go up by 2%.  Just making sure I have that all correct.

Thank you for your time and the, I’m sure, circle walking non-response I will get back.

Wyl Villacres