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Recreation Centers

December 6, 2013


Remember when Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes litigant Norman Steisel dismissed the DOT’s counts of cyclists on the Prospect Park West bike lane in part because many were perceived to be going somewhere other than work?

Furthermore, the D.O.T. data’s lack of credibility is reinforced by our own videotapes. These show that the Prospect Park West bike lanes are used by half the number of riders the D.O.T. says, and that cyclists are not riding to commute as originally contemplated but are recreational users who could be better served by enhancing the existing lane 100 yards away in Prospect Park.

This argument was, and remains, absurd, since NBBL would often cite the fact that people drive to the park for concerts, Little League games, working out, and other non-work purposes as an argument for preserving the parking and three-lane configuration.

Todd Litman, writing for Planetzien, tackles this and other anti-bike arguments in a great post entitled, “Mythbusting: Exposing Half-Truths That Support Automobile Dependency.”

Critics sometimes argue that walking and cycling primarily provide recreational travel, with the implication that this frivolous. For example, Poole asks, “Why should I—either as a highway user-tax payer or a general taxpayer—have to pay for someone else’s hobby?” But a significant portion of all travel is recreational: travel for vacations, to sport and cultural events, or to shop for recreational goods. Critics assume that automobile trips that serve recreational purposes are important but walking and bicycling trips that serve the same purposes are not. For example, they value a car carrying passengers to walk or ride on a trail, or to a gym to pedal a stationary bike, but not people who walk or bike directly from their home. This is arbitrary, inefficient and unfair, reflecting a bias against non-motorized travel.

The Poole to which Litman refers is the Reason Foundation’s Robert Poole, who, writing in Surface Transportation Innovations #121tries to soften his argument against funding for a U.S. Bicycle Route System by saying, “I have nothing against bike riders or bike paths. Several of my family members are avid bike riders.”

Because that’s what everyone says.

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