Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Democrats push pedal power

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Did you know that if we could fly a giant hunk of the glacier covering Antarctica to Waukesha the city would not need to divert water from Lake Michigan? Absurd, right?

This week at the MacIver Institute, I puncture another absurd idea pushed by the bicycling evangelists. They’re promoting a study that shows that if Midwesterners, including Wisconsinites, rode a bicycle for 50% of a person’s trips less than five miles, we could save the world.

It would even be better than electing Obama as President of the United States.

Of course, this isn’t Holland, and the 50% goal is as achievable as 100%.

The authors of the study don’t offer policy prescriptions that would make Wisconsinites and others in the Midwest suddenly get on their bikes and ride 50% of the time for short trips. They only point it is out that it’s possible if we become more like the Netherlands. No wonder Democrats are in love with windmills.

They do let the cat out of the bag by letting us know that converting car lanes to bicycle lanes can cost as much as $50,000 per city block. Portland, OR, spent $10,000 per block on a ten-block stretch of city streets to close a lane to cars and open it to two-way bicycle traffic. The city of Chicago, in the fiscally unsound state of Illinois, just spent $140,000 to make a bike lane on four city blocks, including a bridge.

But the authors are hopeful that cities in the Midwest can become more like their Dutch counterparts because some cities are already “bicycle friendly,” including Milwaukee. Part of being bicycle friendly is making the roadways safer for bicyclists, measured in the mortality rate of bicyclists. If Milwaukee builds a lane across the Hoan Bridge that “friendly” rating might go down.

Milwaukee recently committed to a plan to become even more bicycle friendly. They are going to spend $11.3 million over the next ten years to create more bicycle lanes, and that does not even include land acquisition. The city’s goal is for a bicycle to be used for 5% of all trips less than five miles by 2020.

Five ain’t fifty. And I doubt Milwaukee gets to five.

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