"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Thursday Hate: "Welfare Queens"

Finally, someone has done the real math for the ever vigilant battle on busting the myth that commuter cyclists don't pay their way for road maintenance and construction.

The call to tax cyclists (and license them, or mandate helmet-use) is the kind of reactionary bullshit that is always proffered by those who simply wish prevent new cyclists from taking to the roads, which - as demonstrated here - is completely idiotic and against their self-interest. Why "conservatives" can't seem to get this kind of math in their heads when they're the ones who are supposed to be fiscally-minded...

Oh, well - soon it will no longer be a lifestyle "choice" but rather a lifestyle necessity and everyone can get over all the liberal vs. conservative, nonconformist conformist v conformist nonconformist, hipster douche v. jarhead douche crap and find something else to fight over. Like who to bet on in the Hunger Games.


According to Elly Blue, Grist.com's "Bikonomics" Professor: user gas taxes and fees only pay .07 cents per vehicle-mile-driven, not even coming close to offsetting a total of 5.6 cents/vehicle-mile cost. Add in external costs per mile driven for free parking, crashes, congestion, and land use, and the total now is nearly 34 cents a mile! That's deficit of almost 100% being paid for by state and local taxes!

Meanwhile, smaller, lighter, and cleaner cyclists pay almost the same in taxes while causing just 1 cent/mile traveled in damage costs.

Guess what that adds up to? The drivers - who harangue you constantly to "get the fuck on the sidewalk!" and to "pay your own way, freeloader!" - or just try to kill you - are the ones sucking at the government tit - to the tune of $3,000 a year, each, on average. You bikers? Yep, you're subsidizing these fucking welfare queens with a profit to the local government of about $260 each.

In fact, to run the average city road system at break even, there needs to be 12 bike commuters for every driver. Put that in your tea cup (in your H3's cup holder, of course) and drink it.

See you in the bike lane, Eric Cantor, you fucking communist.


strttmtt said...

Stating that Eric Cantor is a Communist is like calling Obama a capitalist. We all know you like your bike stuff (including federal money from the govt) and while I agree that bikes and bike lanes are better for the economy, the federal government should not play the roll of "banker" in the game of monopoly. Whether it is Eric Cantor or Obama, why are we letting government pick the economies winners and losers.

brianfmorrissey said...

Yeah, dude I agree that bike infrastructure and bike sharing could be privately funded. And in part actually is - see London, and the proposed expansion of Cabi into Maryland.

But the fact is, as evidenced by the most influential proponents of privatization: Cantor, et al, the private sector as a whole doesn't recognize that driving carries an economic cost. Nor do they want pay for it themselves. Otherwise, they'd include it upfront in their product price (gas, vehicle price) instead of deferring it downstream to the public as is currently the practice and the reason that our road system operates at such a deficit. Nor does the public want to pay for it either, hence all the bitching about taxes. And we know that's not EVER going to change. The cost of an auto and the price of gas in Europe is over 50% taxes. As a result, far fewer own cars and the road infrastructure is far more sustainable, financially.

The cognitive dissonance between what roads cost and who's going to pay it is a classic market failure. Therefore, the government is needed to step in and account for it, albeit in small ways, such as bike sharing and infrastructure. Which does in fact pay for itself, corporately sponsored or not. Yes, in DC the capital costs for installing the kiosks is federally funded but the installation of the whole goddamn system was $5 million in CMAQ money. If you do the same math here for the 890,000 miles racked up by Cabi users in the last year, bikeshare saved DC taxpayers as much as $350,000. With increasing usage of the most successful system in the country that is expanding constantly, the initial capital expenditures are payed off in 10 years, conservatively.

Anyways, it shouldn't matter where it comes from, because the spending on bike infrastructure pays for itself, then also helps offset the cost of driving infrastructure which the people who are trying to prevent cyclists from using seem to want for free .

Second, Obama is no more a communist than Cantor is a capitalist. Obama is the best friend Wall Street's got.

Bill said...

Politics aside, where are you getting your cents/vehicle-mile cost from? It doesn't seem right that for every five bike that rides on a road that equates to a 1-2000 pound vehicle's impact on the road.

brianfmorrissey said...

The numbers cited come from the AAA, which you see in the original Grist article I cited. I am merely providing commentary.

I'm not sure, but did you say "five bike = 1 car"?

The author Elly Blue states that 12 bikes per car just to offset the deficit in costs, but all things being equal it's more like 34 bikes per car. And even she says that's conservative.

Check out this website, and you can see the full breakdown per mile, with even direct (upstream, paid by the driver) separated from indirect (downstream, paid by the public) costs. Even these don't include the healthcare impacts from lack of physical activity.

Hell, diabetes alone has doubled since 1979 and accounts $116 billion spent each year. Consider that 60% of healthcare is footed by the government through Medicare and Medicaid and you'll see that's a component missing from both of these calculations of the economic cost of driving.

T. Ryan Arnold said...

As an avid cyclist, cycling commuter and fan of this blog, I just wanted to give a quick $0.02.

It's not really the thrust of your article, but you sort of throw out the idea that mandatory helmet laws are designed solely to increase revenue for municipalities through ticketing of helmet-less cyclists (at least I assume that's what you're getting at).

As someone who has suffered hospitalization and head trauma from a cycling accident I for one think that helmets SHOULD be mandatory. And as a cyclist and bike commuter I would support a mandatory helmet law 100%.

Thank you carry on.

brianfmorrissey said...

Thanks for the comment.

Mandatory helmet laws are not proposed to increase revenue through ticketing but more so to pass the blame onto cyclists for crashes they are not at fault for, and really, in essence to prevent more new cyclists from taking to the streets.

The organization I work for, Active Transportation Alliance, which advocates for bicyclists, among walking and transit issues as well, opposes helmet laws because data shows that when in force they decrease over cycling rates. And that creates an environment that is less safe for cyclists over all and will create more injuries than the actual helmets prevent.

That does not stop us from tirelessly advocating for their use, however.