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My Conversation with an Autophobe

After my March 30, 2014 rant, Hamilton Ontario - The City of Stupid Ideas I received a response from a prominent Hamilton pro-bicycle lane, pro-government social engineering activist.

His remarks, in quotes, appear below along with my rebuttals.

“OK, I'll bite.”

“1. The capital cost is a one-time cost and is a tiny fraction of what the cost of infrastructure to carry an equivalent number of people in cars would cost. I don't recall your outraged blog post when the city decided to spend millions of taxpayer dollars replacing the highway-style overpass system at the intersection of King and Kenilworth, instead of making it a regular intersection. We're also forgoing around $200,000 in property tax revenue on all the land being wasted for the on-ramps and off-ramps. And we'll have to spend millions more to replace it all again in 25 years.”

The key phrase here is "equivalent number of people." That's like Taco Bell announcing that their meat "starts out as real beef." I don't doubt that your claim is 100% true. Unfortunately, I doubt very much that these bike lanes will carry anywhere near the "equivalent number of people" over the next 1,000 years, even if the city were to start handing out free crack at every intersection. If we were instead to perform our calculations based upon "actual number of people" using these crack super-highways I think the cost per inch of rubber contact with the road would fall solidly in favor of my proposition that the whole idea is utter bollocks.

Which has been my point all along.

“2. The operating cost cited for the cycle track is a maximum upset estimate if the next three winters are at least as snowy as this one was exceptional. The actual operating cost is more likely to be much lower.”

I'm glad you brought up the issue of operating cost for these crack super-highways. Even if the operating cost is much lower in future winters it still promises to be exponentially higher in terms of carrying "an equivalent number of people."

I think the same principle would manifest itself if the city went even further in its demonization of private automobile use and threw in a few extra lanes for ox-carts and goat herders.

“3. The operating cost cited does not subtract the current cost of snow clearing for that lane, which it would replace, and which was also exceptionally high this winter (for every street).”

Good point. Unfortunately, it does little to offset the absurd cost per *actual* number of people, no matter how you cut it.

This gets me thinking about Councillor Terry Whitehead's desire for an "off-ramp to make the lanes three-season-only if winter maintenance proves too costly."

I have an idea. Forget about an "off-ramp." Don't even bother to clear the snow in the bike lanes. It will satisfy the anti-car agenda of restricting traffic flow. Maybe those bike lanes could be re-designated for cross country skiers and snowshoe aficionados during the snowy months. Surely the cost per "equivalent number of people" over one or two eons would be attractive to you.

“4. Driving automobiles around for free on 100% publicly-funded, publicly built and maintained public land is a hilarious definition of "capitalistic private" transportation.”

True, the roads are a socialist enterprise. Road socialism dominates the planet. It's going to be around for a long time. I accept that situation for now. The only question that remains is whether or not those roads should be configured sensibly to make the best of an innately flawed system or whether they should be vandalized by "progressive" politicians and activists in favor of ridiculous ideas like bike lanes for crackheads.

Besides, your claim that automobile owners drive around "for free on 100% publicly-funded, publicly built and maintained public land" is ridiculous on it's face and further discredited by this report.

“5. No, drivers don't pay for roads. If you add up 100% of all the taxes, fees, fines and so on that drivers pay, it does not come close to covering 100% of the cost of building and maintaining our road system. In Ontario, it falls short by several billion dollars a year. That doesn't even include the health care or opportunity costs of all the people who are hospitalized and killed prematurely each year due to air pollution from vehicles and injuries in vehicle collisions.”

Now you are starting to sound ridiculous. Drivers don't pay for the roads? Who does? Crackheads?

Regardless of who pays for the roads it still makes no sense to gum up the smooth operation of those roads in pursuit of some pie-in-the-sky eco-whackjob "vision" of total gridlock.

“6. Cannon Street has some of the lowest property values and most underperforming retail frontage in the city. A big reason for that is the street design, which is dangerous and hostile to pedestrians and harms the value of adjacent properties. The bike lanes will pay for themselves many times over in increased economic value on the street.”

Right. The odd crackhead will be able to buy his bag of Dorito's faster.

You don't get around much, do you? You should pay a visit to Upper James. It is a two-way street with what appears to be well performing retail frontage.


You have been to Upper James?

Maybe I am the crazy one, but Cannon St. doesn't come close when it comes to a (two-way) street design that is dangerous and hostile to pedestrians.

I know you already have an answer to the Upper James problem. Turn it into a pedestrian mall from Rymal to the Brow.

The cost in terms of "equivalent number of people" travelling from A to B along that route would be reduced to a fraction of its current price.

The cost due to people being "hospitalized and killed prematurely each year due to air pollution from vehicles and injuries in vehicle collisions." would approach zero.

Unless someone needed an ambulance.

“7. Cannon Street carries 9-10,000 cars a day. Four lanes for that volume of cars is massive overkill and a wasteful use of scarce taxpayer dollars.“

Cannon Street carries 90 to 100 crackheads a day. Two bike lanes for that volume of crackheads is massive overkill and a wasteful use of scarce taxpayer dollars.

“8. Roadway wear and tear is an exponential function of vehicle weight. For example, an SUV causes 8 times as much road damage as a small car. It costs around $750,000 per lane-kilometer to reconstruct a road. If converting one lane-kilometre of road to a protected bike lane adds 5 years to the average 25 year lifetime, it will save $125,000 in lifecycle costs. If it extends the life by ten years, it saves $215,000. (And that assumes the capital reconstruction cost is paid directly upfront rather than financed over the lifetime of the infrastructure.)”

So what you are saying here is that roads are expensive to build and maintain.


I just don't agree with your "solution" to lowering the cost of roads by making them unusable for automobile owners.

In favor of the crack trade.

That's just plain dumb.

When it comes down to the desire to reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator, the ultimate goal of all socialists, I deny your accusation that I am the socialist.

No Sir.

I respectfully pass that title to you.

By the way, if you like the idea of two-way bike lanes funded by Gov. Inc. you'll just love this idea....


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