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Arlington County is proposing cycle track in Crystal City. I don't think it will be used much, but they are proposing it.

I know you're having some fun with Newcomer (great name), but his article does not have the same tone as the outrageously stupid banner headline: "D.C. makes driving hell on wheels." and the "D.C. waging war on drivers" headline inside on page 3. We can assume that he didn't write those headlines. Also, I love the second sidebar article because it's true: bikes do have a "big future" in D.C.

Nice Fisking!

The headline is worse, and he probably didn't write that. But he does spend the entire article talking about the steps DC is going to take that will make driving more expensive, without mentioning how driving or living in the city will get better. It's deceptive to talk about only costs or only benefits.

Oooh, snap!

This is far from a new problem.



Yet another reminder of why I only pick up the Examiner for the free NYT crossword in the back on those rare days I take metro. Hardly ever even glance at the headlines of stories within.

Thank you for taking on his mindless drivel with reasoned thought.

lots of people bike in that area of arlington, why wouldnt folks use a cycle track there?

The oddest part of this being the majority of Examiners that are read are those read on the Metro to my perhaps misconception.

Examiner writer on cars: "I want something, and I want it free."

Examiner writer on things other than cars: "People who want things for free are irresponsible parasites"


You nailed it.

Bike riders are the free-loaders of district life. They pay nothing for their lanes and their use of the roads and sponge off the cars who pay for raod maintenance with gas taxes and vehicle registration fees. How about a $25 bike permit for bikers just to show they can give as well as take. They're just to busy passing bills that makes it easier to sue car drivers. Bicyclists are the most self-centered people on earth

Bunky, sorry to burst your bubble, but the gas tax doesnt even cover half of the costs of the damage that cars and trucks do to the roads. Drivers are being heavily subsidized, to the tune of billions a year.

Sorry, just got back from moving my car to another 2-hour free parking space. Where were we?

Your sily comment didn't burst anything. Of cpurse some costs are borne, and should be borne, by the general public through tax revenues. But the cyclists pay
NOTHING and would be outraged at the suggestion they should. Slefish gentrifiers!


When I drive, I pay a few cents per mile in gas tax, but do about twice that in wear and tear on the road. I believe the number is close to 5c.

When I bike, I do not pay a gas tax, but also do fractions of a cent wear and tear on the road. Lets say 0.1c

Therefore, for every mile I drive, general revenue subdizes me 5c. For every mile I bike, general revenue subsidizes me 0.1c.

So, if there is any revenue issues, we should be going for the big source of red ink, which is cars, not bikes.

OK, lets say we go for bikes too. How do you collect your fee? They previously tried to do exactly what you suggested, and found that the cost of administering the program were more than the income gained. Not to mention that if it took a bike off the road in favor of a car, the government ended up paying more.
For economic reasons, it is more efficient to account for bikes out of general revenue: and I pay tens of thousands towards that one.

Honestly: I would not mind some specific bike tax, like a $25 fee on every new bike. I don't see that this is an efficient mechanism to provide services compared to the current system. Symbolic taxes are usually not good policy, whether they come from the left or the right.
(PS: I oppose "soda taxes" etc, even though there is a closer match between the costs and benefits).

Finally: as for bike riders being free loaders (your quote, Bunky), do you really think all those hipsters in Capitol Hill living in $800K apartments are not paying taxes? Given that bike riding in DC is generally associated with HIGHER incomes, I'd say that bike riders are probably the least freeloading.

Of course, I live in Maryland so I am a freeloader. But I commute on the capital crescent trail, so I am not using your DC tax dollars.

Per SPE's point. Subsidies are a key tool in policy planning. As a general matter, we subsidize things that we want more of. Otherwise, it's just a handout, which I would agree is not a good thing.

Do we really want more people looking for parking and driving on the roads of DC? It's not just the relative amount of the subsidies, it's the very existence of them that is exacerbating the very problem that so vexes drivers.

Bunky, see this earlier post for my analysis of why seventy-five cents per year would be an appropriate tax rate for cyclists:

If the government continues to refuse to collect from cyclists, I for one would favor a program where cyclists can voluntarily contribute seventy-five cents to the US Treasury and get an "I Paid My Share" badge or certificate they can wave at motorists.

Crikey7: car drivers confuse the "less cars more bikes" as a moral argument against cars. Plenty of environmentalists make that point. Of course, the AAA and right wing newspapers like the Examiner have a knee jerk response that any tax on cars must be motivated by that animus. Its a war over symbols.

For that reason, I prefer to go straight to the costs and economics. Its funny watching the Examiner, with its pro-free market, tough on crime conservatism, argue for socialism and leniency when it comes to cars.


Of course some costs are borne, and should be borne, by the general public through tax revenues. But the cyclists pay

Wait. So does the general public bear some of the costs through tax revenues, or don't they? What's with refuting your own silly point before giving anyone else the chance? Selfish.

oboe: no, its Slefish

There is a fair representation in the conservative press of good writing and thoughtful opinion regardless of one's positions on the matters under discussion. Why is the bar so consistently low for the same qualities in the Examiner? Do they just not pay the staff enough to get good work?

The Examiner is notorious for playing a bit fast and loose with journalistic standards in a brazen effort to get attention. Their curious juxtaposition of photos and headlines for unrelated stories has been noted in other sources.


Awesome take-down!

I see SJE already took down Bunky's comments. Considering that many (most?) of DC's cyclists are city residents, which means they pay property taxes in some way shape or form (whether because they're homeowners or via rent), and most of hte rest buy stuff in DC (sales tax), the argument that they "don't pay taxes to pay for the roads" is pretty weak.

I freely admit to being one of those parasites from Maryland. At least when I ride, its entirely on the CCT, except for 500ft on KSt. So, for almost my entire time, I am using NPS land. I figure that with the sales tax I pay on lunch in DC, or the booze I buy in the district, I am covering my adverse parasitical impact on DC's budget.

Your site is one of my favorite bicycle blogs.


Five minutes of google found a number of parking spots.


My problem with this post is it's snarky attitude.

I ride and drive both.

Though actually mostly I walk.

But the tone of this article is exactly what so many drivers find annoying about the cycling community.

It's filled with snark and just sortof screams 'look at me, I'm 24 and live in a studio condo and have no kids or a job that requires me to have a vehicle, and I think since I can easily bike everywhere then everyone else can too. More than that - they are morally inferior if they don't'.

That may or may not be the case in real life. I don't know you.

But that's your tone.

You would do your cause a lot of good if you'd tone down the snark and try to engage people without the sarcasm.

And a logistics note. You seem to discount the vehicle registration fee most drivers in DC have to pay.

I pay about $2000 a year to have my cars registered in DC. I buy a new car about every three years, and on average my registration fees average out to be $2000 per year.

That's five bucks a day I pay for the privilege of having a vehicle here.

That's above and beyond the gas tax, the annual tax on my garage, etc.

So if you are going to try to do a cost analysis it'd be good if you would include all costs.

I think cars drivers are perfectly safe, at all times. After all, there were only... 36,000 traffic deaths in the U.S. last year, almost all of them killed by car or truck drivers.

Of course, if a food pathogen, a virus outbreak or an invading army killed 36,000 Americans in a year, there would be a hue and cry. So why is it OK when car drivers kill 36,000 Americans a year? It's certainly not OK with me.

As for enforcement, well, I see car drivers run red lights, basically on almost every red light in downtown D.C. People try to beat the yellow but they don't even arrive at the intersection until the light has already changed to red. But the mindset is that if the driver saw the yellow light from 100 yds. away, then it's OK to zoom right through the red light, regardless of whether any law-abiding pedestrians are in the crosswalk, walking with a WALK signal.

Hillman --

You're paying five dollars a day not for the privilege of having a car, but for the privilege of having a new car every three years. There's a difference.

Hillman: lets forget about tone, which is a matter of taste. My take is that we are right on the facts, and so are having a bit of fun. Please explain the more important question: are we wrong on the facts?

Hilman, regular readers if this blog know that the author lives in a house in DC and has several kids. So your characterization is inaccurate.

The registration fee just about covers the cost of administering the system of car registration, confirming insurance and inspection. It does not begin to cover actually maintaining roads.

in all seriousness: an excellent commentary. just excellent. beautiful.


I believe you have been misinformed. May I suggest that you take an opportunity to read more on infrastructure and HOW the roads are built and paid for. the built environment. its quite a subject.

Good day.

Hillman: well, the original article is a good example of the kind of vacuous thinking that annoys cyclists. But lets check the tally: one article is criticized because of "tone", and the other because it has only a passing acquaintance with reality. I know which camp I'd rather be in.

My problem with this post is it's snarky attitude.


Talk about a dog-bites-man story.

It's filled with snark and just sortof screams 'look at me, I'm 24 and live in a studio condo and have no kids or a job that requires me to have a vehicle, and I think since I can easily bike everywhere then everyone else can too. More than that - they are morally inferior if they don't'.

Hillman: Fighting with the voices in his head; or just trolling for attention? You decide!

I also must laugh at the characterization of us as 20 something hipsters with kids. I know that this blog includes a NASA scientist with kids, an environmental scientist who works for the EPA, a government transportation specialist, a middle aged molecular biologist turned patent lawyer with three kids, a talking woodwind, and an amphibian. Aside from the magic realism, its got a pretty high quotient of middle aged tech/nerd family guys.

sorry.. hipsters without kids!!!

I bike in part so that I don't have to buy a third car for my kids.

@SJE I actually became a professional engineer specializing in HVAC/Refrigeration and married a physicist patent attorney to solidify my position as a hipster.

I am over 50 and live in the suburbs, but its nice to know that my dislike of stupid anti biking articles in the Examiner gives me hipster cred. But is it okay if I drink microbrews instead of PBR - and I don't get a lot of irony?

I believe any and all critiques of the supremacy of the automobile are welcome! Most people are unaware of just how aggressive self-interested corporations and industries (e.g., the Big Oil-auto makers-highway construction lobbying combine) are at promoting the dominance of the motor vehicle mode of transportation in our society. Big Oil is probably the most pernicious and aggressive of them all nowadays. It is also semi-coverty funding the deniers of climate change science.

City Planner: I prefer to avoid making this a critique of Big Oil and the automobile industry. Drivers already think of cyclists as some odd-ball leftist mob out to take away their ignition keys. I'd prefer to focus on engaging with the individuals, as Washcycle does above: we are not trying to hurt anyone, but trying to make it better for everyone, drivers and cyclists included.

Disgraceful, implying that drivers want the right to kill people: "In trying to keep me from killing people, they're killing my buzz, and isn't that a crime too?" I hope DC starts seeing bicyclists as Automatic Teller ATM Machines and enforcing every law that applies to bikes. Then we’ll see your self-righteous arguments turned on their head.
There's 2 ways to get people to use their cars less. One is improve public transportation and bike access. The other is to make it too expensive and cumbersome to drive. DC is focused on the latter.
DC's War on Cars is a tax on business. Hundreds of thousands of people in DMV either won't go into the city or go into the city less because of not being able to find parking, tickets and/or the streets being driver unfriendly.
Let's see WC wants:
1. Drivers not to complain about services
2. Drivers to pay more
3. Laws and their enforcement not to make people safe but show 0% tolerance of scofflaws
4. Less parking
5. More congestion therefore more pollution
6. Less commerce
7. More cameras – an even bigger big brother
8. No improvements to Public Transportation

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