The Political Cyclist — The Wisconsin Bike Federation
I am currently a member of the Wisconsin Bike Federation. I am also a former political partisan but I am still on one side of the political spectrum. I find there is a general air of “Democrat” that goes along with cycling but that is silly. My mates in the peloton are both left and right (both mild and raging). Some are vocal about their politics and some are not. We set those differences aside to help each other go fast on our bikes. We work together despite the fact in the voting booths we work in opposition. The political cyclist in me supports stronger legal protections for vulnerable road users.
The political cyclist also works to secure funding for bicycle friendly or specific infrastructure. Here is where I start to part ways with the political cyclist. I don’t see much bike specific funding landing in my part of the state or the roads I frequent. However, I am a big proponent of getting more people to ride bicycles for health reasons. Also, if more people ride bikes they will understand better what my friends and I are doing on the roads and be better able to navigate around us safely.
The Political Cyclist — The MacIver Institute (MI)
I know a number of people who have worked for the MI. I was in a loose blogger confederation with one fellow who was a member of the MI and is an up and coming star of right-wing Wisconsin political media. With that said, I have read the MI hit piece and am in general agreement with Mayor Dave’s post The MI it is silly calling out 14 projects that are about 1% of the total price tag they are complaining about.
Also, us cyclists know how it goes. People complain about us cycling on the roads and then they bellyache about trails.
The Political Cyclist — TAP Grants
Please read this well written rebuttal by Mark Gottlieb former secretary of the Wisconsin DOT. The main point to take away is the bulk of the funding comes from federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds. These funds the law expressly designates for hiking & biking routes and to build safe ways for children to get to and from school.
Furthermore, people local to a municipality must initiate TAP grant applications. These are not dictates coming from on high. Yeah, the local sponsor must come up with local funding but that goes through the usual political processes or perhaps private fund raising efforts.
In short, most all of the bike efforts are mostly funded with money barred from use for most road projects. They are also dedicated to projects with local backing.
The Political Cyclist — Where do TAP Funds Come From?
TAP funds comes from the Federal Highway Trust Fund which the Tax Policy Center informs us:
The Highway Trust Fund finances most federal government spending for highways and mass transit. Revenues for the trust fund come from transportation-related excise taxes, primarily federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. In recent years, however, the trust fund has needed significant transfers of general revenues to remain solvent.
The ramifications of this strike down a tired argument bike infrastructure opponets frequently make. That argument is cyclists do not help to pay for the building of these projects because we do not pay gas taxes or registration fees. However, local projects get their funding from local taxes which means property and perhaps sales taxes. In short, cyclists pay.
The Political Cyclist — Just the Facts, Please
Essentially, I agree with Mayor Dave (FYI, I use “Mayor Dave” to distinguish Dave Cieslewicz from Dave Schlabowske).
What bother me is language such as: “McIver [sic] is a far right wing [emphasis added] Wisconsin based “think” tank”. Sigh, why not just use extreme (sarcasm sarcasm!)? The points he raises are good enough to stand on their own without the name calling. The name-calling discourages people from joining in yet another Republican vs. Democrat cat fight. If I want to see this kind of debate I will read the comment sections of blogs.
The invective nearly turned me off of the piece entirely and does have me questioning my membership in the Wisconsin Bike Fed. Fortunately, the complaint I raised was listened to and inspired me to research this entire fiasco more deeply.
I am willing to lend my support to a fight for better laws and cycling infrastructure. However, I am not supporting the left and that is what Mayor Dave’s piece reads like. You are better off going to Mark Gottlieb’s point by point rebuttal than reading Mayor Dave’s post.