Yesterday I took a rare car trip in the middle of the afternoon rush hour. As I was
stuck in traffic being traffic, I scanned through various radio channels and happened on the Jeff Ward show on KLBJ AM. This is a call-in talk show covering various events and issues of the day. It can be entertaining.
The particular conversation in progress was about the new bike parking shelter opening next week. In typical talk radio fashion, Jeff was venting about the cost of the structure in relation to the revenue it will produce. As with almost any cycling issue, he expressed considerable skepticism that such a structure would see much use.
If Jeff was a cyclist and actually got around town without being enclosed in an air conditioned steel cage, he might observe the large number of cyclists that embark/debark at Kramer station, and the full bicycle racks. Kramer experiences a lot of cycle traffic — partly because the destinations that Kramer serves are not even remotely within walking distance.
If Jeff was a cyclist he would know the unease of leaving your bicycle locked where it is easy to steal. Lack of secure bicycle parking is one of the leading barriers to bicycle commuting. If cars were as easy to steal and dispose of, car owners would be just as reluctant to park where there wasn’t security.
But lacking that perspective and experience he did his usual bloviating tirade about costs and benefits and free markets and blah blah blah.
He’s right on the facts. The shelters are expensive: about $150,000 to store 24 bikes. The fee doesn’t come close to paying for the shelter: $30 per person per year. And even though the shelters are being paid in large part through a federal grant, that is still tax money, and represents a substantial subsidy to a relatively small segment of the traveling public.
That would be ok, if he didn’t ignore the huge subsidies in all forms of public transporation. Where is the outrage at the escalating costs and subsidies required to keep Americans moving in individual cars? That would be ok, if he didn’t cherry pick is facts and make simplistic economic calculations. Where is the analysis about how one less bicycle on the metrorail is room for four more passengers? Where is the analysis about fewer cars on the road because rail and bus become more attractive?
Where is the comparison of equivalent car projects? What does $150,000 buy you in the car world?