It is, after all, that time of year.
A couple of months back, BikinginLA wrote a guest piece on WestsideBIKEside in which he argued that cyclists could actually effect a great deal of change if they voted as an interest group. I was reminded of that piece after reading his recent work on possible ways (especially this and this) to legislate improvements for bicycles. Also speaking about voting, Gary at gary rides bikes put up a thoughtful argument against santa monica’s proposition T.
One of the things I found most interesting about gary’s argument was his mention of the Parking Cash Out Law. As Gary explains it, the law requires empolyers that provide their employees with parking places to compensate them financially if the employee decides not to use his parking place. in Gary’s case, it seems, that adds up to a monthly subsidy of $120 per month. It’s a brilliant idea and a brilliant law (find the state government’s information on it here). Gary’s mention of the Parking Cash Out law also reminded me of the recent tax break written into the $700 billion bailout package passed two weeks ago.
Those two laws, I think, speak to the best possibilities of legislating: By giving people a financial incentive to change their behavior, behaviors actually change. That brings me back to several of the recent changes suggested by BikinginLA. While I’m in complete agreement with them, I think there is more to be said about ways in which you can legislate people out of their car. I don’t mean to make driving illegal. Rather, I’m trying to suggest that there’s an incredible amount of value in laws that give people an added incentive to get on their bikes and stay out of their cars. And to be sure: One doesn’t happen without the other. Everything BikinginLA is suggesting – much of which boils down to an issue of equal access, I think – is important. But beyond that, I think it might also be profitable to think about ways in which subsidizing bike might be an equally important legislative project.
And in the meantime? Alex’s story about the most recent Taco Tuesday is really encouraging. He writes, “Imagine 35 blinking lights coming out of complete darness, along a path that is feared by residents and cyclists alike. It was a strong visual demonstrating that more use, not less, is the solution to the path’s problem.”
This legislation that has been the recent topic of discussion won’t happen overnight, but between now and when it happens, I think it’s important to take up Alex’s comment and broaden it: All over the city, in spite of the city’s faults and rude drivers and NIMBY Burbank residents (with Will Campbell’s letter in response) and whatever else have you, more use might be the best present solution.