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19th century solution to a 21st century problem?

August 21, 2007

“Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the Democrats, promoting 19th century solutions to 21st century problems. If you don’t like it, ride a bike. If you don’t like the price at the pumps, ride a bike.”

Patrick McHenry (R – North Carolina)

So I ran across this quote earlier today over at Bike Portland, and even though I usually don’t do the whole political thing (I don’t particularly like either party), as a cyclist I needed to comment on this. The rest of his speech is available at his site, but basically he is saying that spending $1 million to promote cycling is a waste of money. There are a lot of things I want to say about this, but I’ll just list a couple here.

First, how is promoting a means of transportation that is cheaper, easier on the environment, reduces traffic congestion, and helps to promote a healthy lifestyles a bad thing? Even if you only agree with a couple of those reasons, do you really think that $1 million is too much to spend? Why?

Second, I would argue that getting from point A to point B despite scarcity of resources is as much of a 11th century problem as a 21st century problem. By his argument, you could say that building homes is a 21st century problem (after all, we are doing it now, and it is the 21st century). Does that mean that nails, screws, and simple machines are no longer adequate?

Keep in mind that I am not saying that cycling is the final solution to our energy problems, it isn’t. But it is part of the solution, and given the advantages, spending some money to encourage it is a reasonable course of action.

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