Trains, Buses and Bikes, Oh My!

Bill Scher

Last week, Isaiah reported on the 7% increase in mass transit ridership, and also how limited that increase is. Because the Bush administration did nothing to make mass transit more convenient and accessible, many Americans who want to quit paying for high-priced oil don’t have that choice.

It’s not just mass transit. It’s bikes too.

Today, my local paper headlined “Bike Sales Rise With Gas Prices. In fact, local outlets across the country are reporting the same spike with bikes. And interest seems to be growing beyond the stereotypical hippie bike messenger. From the Associated Press:

Mark Krenz, 48, is giving it a try. The Bismarck [North Dakota] auto-parts store manager recently spent $750 on the 24-speed bike and is building up his mileage to prepare for his hilly commute.

“In this business, everybody is constantly talking about how to save gas,” Krenz said. “I bought a bike because I figure it’s a good way to save money, get in shape and save wear and tear on my pickup.”

But just like with mass transit, smart policy is needed so people will have safe and convenient bike routes that allow people have a choice in their commute. And again, the Bush administration conservative policies failed.

After the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Bush’s Secretary of Transportation tried to shift blame by saying too much money was being spent on things like “bike paths … as opposed to our infrastructure.”

Of course, bridges and bike paths are both part of our nation’s infrastructure. There’s no need to choose between them. As non-binding resolution calling for a national bicycle strategy. Perhaps the most compelling argument mentioned in the preamble was:

Whereas bicycle commuters annually save on average $1,825 in auto-related costs, reduce their carbon emissions by 128 pounds, conserve 145 gallons of gasoline, and avoid 50 hours of gridlock traffic;

Of course, not everyone wants to ride a bike on their daily commute. But we all want choices. And right now, we largely have no choice but to use massive amounts of expensive oil.

Having access to renewable energy, fuel-efficient vehicles, mass transit and bike routes would allow us to choose something else besides oil.

We do have one choice: between a clean energy strategy, or more failed conservatism.