Local bike lane nemesis F.H. Buckly is perhaps the only person who sees a connection between Trump's promise to "drain the swamp" and the efforts of local governments to make cities more bikeable, but Buckley thinks Trump won't have gone far enough to do so unless he strangles small-d democracy and civic activism. Especially as it is utilized by bike advocates.
The muck goes deeper, however, as I discovered in my own little battle with the bicycle mob of Alexandria, Va. The federal government offers states and local governments about $900 million a year for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and a fair chunk of this goes for bicycle lanes and subventions for the Capital Bikeshare program, with its rental stations of red bicycles.
Let's just stop right there. Capital Bikeshare has gotten a tiny share of that $900 million and I think that was only a couple of times (DDOT used CMAQ money early on, and Montgomery County used a one-time FTA grant (as part of the Job Access Reverse Commute program, which might not even count as part of that $900m)
With the feds providing as much as 90 percent of the money for some programs, it’s hard for a city to turn this down.
In my case, the bicycle lanes were going to run down a very steep highway that saw 14,000 cars and large trucks pass by each day.
He's talking about King Street, which is technically a highway (State Route 7), but certainly isn't what most people think of when they hear the word "highway." Columbia Pike and Glebe Road are also technically highways. But people who live on that section of King Street probably don't say they live on a highway. It's semantic obfuscation and so Buckley has already started to bring his honesty into question.
As safe alternate routes were available, it seemed the height of craziness, but what it had going for it was an energized lycra-clad lobby group that had the ear of the city government.
...and the opinion of the experts the city hired to plan and design the bike network. The presence of alternate routes is not a reason to avoid making the best route better, no matter what the energized underwear-clad NIMBYs say.
BTW, since the bike lanes have been installed they've been determined to be a success "As with all major projects, the City collects "before" and "after" data to monitor the impacts of the project. Speed and crash data were collected to determine if safety was improved for all roadway users. Both speeds and crashes decreased after this project was installed." Biking in the corridor was up 27% and pedestrian use up 50%.
When not actually bicycling, members of the group seemed to live for meetings at city hall that ran for six or more hours, often past midnight. They had their votes, their hatred of cars — and more importantly, they had federal money on their side.
Here Buckley seems to actually be belittling civic activism "Only losers would actually go to meetings and be involved." He also seems to be implying that supporters are some sort of minority, while survey results show most locals support bike lanes.
The federal grant to the bicyclists had done three things. Through the bicyclists’ message (from “Cabaret”) that “tomorrow belongs to us,” it might have gotten some people on bikes for the first time.
That is one of the goals, so that's good.
Second, by taking away two-lane streets for bike lanes and parking spots for bicycle stations, it had done its bit to ban fossil fuels and save the planet.
The parking lane that was removed was only be used 8% of the time. Very few parking space are removed for bicycle stations. But when they are, they likely see more use than the spots they replace. But yeah, reducing the carbon footprint is a benefit (though not an explicit goal) of federal funding for biking.
Third, it had created a local, progressive interest group and given them an in with city hall. And for the federal regulators who designed the programs, that was perhaps the most important thing of all.
Here, Buckly has the cause and effect backwards. The "interest group" for cycling has existed since the late 19th Century, when bicycle advocates first organized to pave streets, which is long before there was federal funding for such things. Even WABA (established 1972) predates CMAQ (1990), Transportation Enhancements (1992), recreational trails (1993) and Safe Routes to School (2005) and all other federal bicycle funding.
The bike program isn’t a big deal in itself. But littered throughout the federal government are scores of similar programs, aimed at empowering the community organizer, the village radical, the smarmy city councilman. And that’s what the new administration has to take on.
Heaven forbid that people actually get involved in their community and have power to make things better. By all means, let's crush that.
Buckley is still smarting from the way he lost. I know what that feels like, but the solution to losing is not to weaken democracy, it's to build a more compelling argument or to accept that the one you have stinks. And "I don't want to give up on street parking" just isn't a winner in Alexandria right now.