Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Little Tommy Still Hates Bikes

It's not Tommy Menino's fault that he looks like a kid left in the bath too long. He is responsible for his bicycle problem though.

I'm betting he fell off bikes a lot as a kid and is squeamish about scabs and a milquetoast about pain. Da Mare hates and fears bicycles.

The latest proof
appeared in today's Boston Herald. He followed through on his illogical threat to save us from the horrifying perils of party cycles. He's perfectly willing to destroy one small business to continue his vendetta against cycling.

Like some crazed old Great-Aunt Edna, Tommy has been claiming for a year or so that Boston Pedal Party (hurry while the site is still up) was death and dismemberment (any day, any second now) disguised as safe fun. While there has never been a problem, Da Mare knew for sure and certain and real that something terrible would happen.

Our tabloid quotes the honorable hysteric as, "We don’t want anyone to get hurt. We are not going to wait for a tragedy to occur before we do something."

He even got an apparently brow-beaten minion, the commissioner of the transportation department to join the cycling phychosis. Tim Tinlin's statement was "Essentially, we spoke to the designer of the bikes and he said they are not safe for city streets. They were made for parks and college campuses, not to impede traffic on city streets. Emergency vehicles couldn’t even get around them."

It's hard to pick which deceit to pick first. Consider:
  • Width. These bikes are no wider than a car and considerably less narrow than even a UPS truck. They travel on four-lane or wider streets. The emergency-vehicle squeal is total jive.
  • Speed. They go at 12 to 15 miles per hour, without pushing it. This is a typical bicycle speed and as fast as a cruising cab or much of downtown traffic. They congest nothing.
  • Safety. These are very heavy, have extraordinary brakes and other safety equipment. They can't fall over either.
Tinlin apparently heard what Da Mare wanted him to hear or is just lying. A glance at or poring over the main U.S. website for the bikes shows and tells a very different story. For example, these are common in downtown Minneapolis, Santa Fe and St. Louis, among other cities. Perhaps we need to assume that drivers throughout the rest of the nation are smarter than our, and thus Tommy and Tim's terrors are true. (Notice Minneapolis. Maybe Tom should ask Tim to check the connection with the bridge collapse...we can't be too safe.)

The big fact instead is that these are safe and fun for those without childhood scars of cycling. As the distributor's site claims:
The Conference Bike is a revolutionary way to bring people together. The Conference Bike is pedaled by 7 riders sitting in a circle. One person steers while the other 6 pedal (or not) as the bike moves effortlessly along. More than 150 Conference Bikes are now being enjoyed by a wide variety of groups in 10 countries. It is a tour bike in Paris and New York, a tool for corporate team-building in San Diego, a way for blind people to bike in Dublin, a human-powered bus in Germany and a vehicle to convey people at theme parks in Japan and Spain. Conference Bikes are also being used to transport employees on the campus in California.
Let us recall that our car-bound mayor is the same fellow who eliminated the part-time office of bicycle advocate. He refuses to set up bicycle lanes, even though they work well in neighboring Cambridge. He has repeatedly stymied every bike-positive action the city could take. While we carp about too much car traffic downtown, Da Mare tells the cyclists to suck it. No safety. No lanes. No street racks.

The state laws and regulations require accommodation of both pedestrians and bicycles whenever there is new paving or rehab of streets. Da Mare could make that happen with certainty and vigor. He doesn't.

The closest we've come to accommodation has been some bicycle racks on a very limited subset of distant MBTA buses. Numerous cities, like Seattle, use them as standard bus equipment and actively encourage combo bus/bike trips to keep cars out of downtown. Their mayors must have had good pedaling experiences as kids.

We can only surmise why he has such an emotional problem with bicycles, particularly when it is where the civilized world that cares about congestion, safety and the environment is headed. He seems set in his wrinkled-boy mind though.

Related Frivolity: Over at Universal Hub, Adam has a poll on what else TM might ban.

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Frustrated bicyclist said...

I completely agree. Why Menino hates bicycles I do not know. For being a "neighborhood" mayor in "America's walking city", apparently unless you're walking you should be driving or taking the T. He's totally ignorant and ill-informed about bicycling. It's time for him to go.

Mass Marrier said...

I've offered to give him a tour. His Readville neighborhood in only three miles south of my JP one. Originally I had the idea that he'd take me up on it, see how bad the DCR bike path is, experience the troubles of biking on the car-centric streets, and (ta da) become a convert. Then I have settled for maybe just getting him to be less bike-hostile. Cambridge is no cyclist's paradise, but in contrast to Boston...

Laurel said...

Found! The missing scene from The Women: "It Happens on a Conference Bike". :D

Glenda said...

Bike messaging companies should have to paid fines everytime their bikers are running someone off the city sidewalks. More tickets to bikers!

Mass Marrier said...

I"m all for equity and equality. Of course, car and truck drivers disobey far more traffic laws and regulations -- with far worse consequences for everyone. We would have to ticket or tow those driers and vehicles at the same time. Let's start with every driver who does not stop for a red light or who blocks a crosswalk. When the police have their orders to enforce and begin to do so, the behavior changes. Cyclists represent the tiniest part of the vehicle/pedestrian set of problems.

Mass Marrier said...

Now I'm reveling in the idea. Imagine 36 cyclists getting tickets for riding on sidewalks, or their more likely offense, not waiting for green lights. During that same period in downtown Beantown, many hundreds or a few thousand car and truck drivers would get tickets. Every available city and state cop would be required for the push. Stop each of the one to five drivers who goes through a light after it changed to red. Oh, yeah, and there's a fine by state law for every turn without a driver signal first.

If they enforced the laws and regulations downtown for a week, they could sell admission to watch and hear the results. Who knows, it might even get city cops to start obeying those safety rules.

Frustrated bicyclist said...

I think you just figured out how to fund our $15 billion statewide transportation funding deficit... massive traffic law enforcement!