Fear and loathing on the bike trail 2010

Food is never just about nutrition, and bicycling isn't just about getting from one place to another.

Well, maybe there are places where it is, but this country is not one of them. Riding a bike always seems to be some kind of statement, while being, yes, a way to get from one place to another, or a fun way to go in a loop through the countryside.

Consider the rhetoric you hear when someone proposes converting a disused railway bed to a bike trail.  Suddenly, the addition of a strip of asphalt a few yards across becomes a vast and unnatural expanse of pavement, and a way for thieves and criminals to penetrate pristine neighborhoods. It  is conceptually different than any of the other roads, parking lots, and driveways that surround it.

You might guess my attitude from my word choice, but, then, I don't own a house abutting on an abandoned rail bed that I've treated as an extension of my yard for years.  I might then be tempted to use the rhetoric of private property to assert rights over property I don't actually own too--good thing for my self-respect I don't.

But only some homeowners consider such things negative. Some people like having paths without traffic on them near their house.  If you count pedestrian and bicyclist deaths by cars as "secondhand driving", cars are way more dangerous to innocent bystanders than cigarettes.  But in this case everyone smokes. Even so, many people find  a small "no driving" area appealing, particularly if they have young children.

Does bike path support or opposition correlate with other political positions nationwide? Or is your position dictated almost entirely by whether or not you bike, or whether or not you abut a railroad right of way? Most politics is not as driven by naked self-interest as most people think, but this is a case where it in fact might be.


But it doesn't take an attack on someone's backyard to bring out the anti-bike in someone. We're all over, we get in people's way all the time, we ride at night without lights, and we act as if the road