Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bike the Vote

I'm sure I'll live to regret opening up a political can of worms in this space. There are many important issues on which to base your vote in this fall's election. But if you're reading this, then the candidate's position related to cycling probably has at least some bearing on your decision.

This is not a personal endorsement; I'm just passing on another cyclist's observations. Patrick O'Grady writes the "Maddog Unleashed" column for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, and in the latest issue, he searched the three major presidential candidates' web sites for their positions on cycling, and "found a reason to believe." In his words:

"McCain's 'Environment' section says nothing about cycling. In fact, it says mostly nothing, period, unless you think GOP talking points about market forces and national security constitute straight talk on the environment."

"Clinton, meanwhile, serves up a 15-page PDF explaining in excruciating detail how she would 'promote energy independence, address global warming, and transform our economy.' Seven thousand words. None of them 'bicycle.'"

"Obama's transportation plan discusses his support for the Complete Streets Act of 2008, a measure authored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to ensure that all users of the U.S. transportation system, including pedestrians and bicyclists, 'are able to travel safely and conveniently on streets and highways.'"

"His chosen sport is hoops, not cycling. But he is talking about bicycling as something other than a presidential play date. And even a sour old cynic like me finds that vaguely audacious and hopeful."


  1. Although Senator Obama is the only one to include a reference to bicycles, even conservatives should be all for ensuring an even playing field for all modes of transportation. After all, competition creates efficiencies, right? Isn't that theory of capitalism engraved in stone somewhere? That means that rail and trail users ought to be subsidized to the same degree that roads and airlines are, whether that means withdrawing the highway trust funds and airline subsidies or increasing subsidies for rail (both passenger and freight) and trail (including cyclable and walkable streets, sidewalks, and both integrated and separate pathways).

    In the end though, I think Congress and state and local legislators will have the most say on how we fund transit. So don't stop your political advocacy at the presidential level. If you want funding for bike-friendly infrastructure you've got to let your elected officials know.

  2. This will be my first presidential election where I vote democrat, but I will be voting for Barak Obama (provided he's the Dem candidate).