Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Roads are Yours and Mine

This is a post that came from a good friend of mine over at The Cyclist site, G-Ted concerning some frustrating 'proposed' legislation. I'll throw my two cents out there in a few days:


pub⋅lic [puhb-lik]

1. of, pertaining to, or affecting a population or a community as a whole: public funds; a public nuisance.
2. done, made, acting, etc., for the community as a whole: public prosecution.
3. open to all persons: a public meeting.
4. of, pertaining to, or being in the service of a community or nation, esp. as a government officer: a public official.

5. maintained at the public expense and under public control: a public library; a public road.

The thing about cycling is that you need somewhere to engage in the activity. Obvious, and not unlike other activities we participate in. The beauty of cycling is that you can make use of so many places to do it at because they are public places. That is what makes using a bicycle so appealing.

Now we are finding that people who are not fans of cycling, for whatever reasons, feel they can use the law to take away your public access to roadways. Even if you are a tax paying, law abiding resident. We are seeing rumblings of this in Colorado, and now in the state of Iowa, a similar movement to ban cyclists is afoot. There are several glaring affronts to your freedom going on here.

First of all, the public road system is created and maintained by tax dollars procured from all residents of any given state, and all across the country. You own part of the roads. Because of the public nature these roads, they become non-public if certain taxpaying residents are banned from them. The ridiculous nature of such a proposition should be obvious. These propositions in Colorado and Iowa pre-suppose that even though you pay for the roads, you do not own any part of them, nor do you have a right to ride on them on a bicycle. Both cases state that the "safety" of the cyclists can not be provided for in any other way than to ban them altogether.

Another way to look at it is to say that your use is dictated by a small, unhappy segment of the user group that wishes to impose their will on the masses. Never mind that these users are most likely to be at fault in automobile/cyclist accidents that result in injury or death.

Finally, this sets a dangerous precedent in that any organized small group could feasibly dictate use of your freedoms soley based on what the imposing group feels is safe for you.

Think that this is just a strange happening in states that do not matter to you and that it will "just go away"? Think again. Be vigilant about your rights as cyclists. Fight for your freedom. If you just stand around thinking someone else will take care of it, they will, and probably not in the way you imagine it should be.

Join IMBA, join a local cycling advocacy, and write your representatives in the State and Federal branches of government. Be reasonable, but be firm. Or you may find yourself with a bicycle and all dressed up with no where to go.

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