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New York Times: How to Construct an Anti-Bike Argument

By Erica C. Barnett March 15, 2011

Bike concern trolls, take note: In a devastating riposte to an asinine anti-bike-lane post on the New Yorker's blog, the New York Times' Adam Sternbergh lays out the definitive blueprint for anyone wanting to trot out a boilerplate case against bike lanes. (It's also a handy template for, oh, every Joel Connelly editorial about cyclists, ever).

Here's a taste:
Pre-emptive self-exoneration: “I don’t have anything against bikes.”

Reference to ominous encroachment of cycling-based anti-Americanism: “City Hall … sometimes seems intent on turning New York into Amsterdam, or perhaps Beijing.” (You know, Beijing: where the communists live!)

Invocation of personal cycling bona fides: “As a student, I lived in the middle of Oxford, where cycling is the predominant mode of transport, and I cycled everywhere.”

Invocation of meddling government apparatchiks: “A classic case of regulatory capture by a small faddish minority.”

Invocation of America’s long, sun-dappled love affair with cars: “Since 1989, when I nervously edged out of the Ford showroom on 11th Avenue and 57th Street, the proud leaser of a sporty Thunderbird coupe, I have owned and driven six cars in the city.”

Brief feint toward fact-based argument, unencumbered by actual facts: “From an economic perspective I also question whether the blanketing of the city with bike lanes … meets an objective cost-benefit criterion. … Beyond a certain point … the benefits of extra bike lanes must run into diminishing returns.” (Yes. They must. But when? At what point? Sorry — no time! Moving on!)

Followed by quick return to actual motivation: “Like many New Yorkers who don’t live in Manhattan, one of my favorite pastimes is to drive from Brooklyn … into the city for dinner to find a parking space once the 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. parking restrictions have lapsed. … These days, [this] is virtually impossible.” (A lack of parking spaces naturally serving as evidence of too many bike lanes, not too many parked cars.)



Invocation of damnable scofflaw cyclists: “On those rare occasions when I do happen across a cyclist, or two, he or she invariably runs the red lights.” (On a related note, I personally witnessed three hit-and-run accidents outside my old apartment at Atlantic Ave. and 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn. I logically determined that drivers invariably get into accidents, and thus launched my campaign for the eradication of city streets.)

See? It’s easy. Or, if this all seems too strenuous or, you know, long-winded, you can simply reduce your argument to its four essential words: “I have been inconvenienced.”

Ouch. Well worth reading the whole thing here.
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