Last week the Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, announced that he wanted to make the Denver Metro area the most bike friendly spot in the world. He proposed a $100 million dollar project, spread out over four years, to construct hundreds of miles of new bike paths. The Colorado state budget for the current fiscal year is presently $220 million in the red. Only a career politician seeking to create a legacy for himself would propose spending $100 million when the state he rules is already $220 million in the hole. Just where is the money going to come from? Why do career politicians insist upon spending money they do not have? How am I supposed to have any respect for a man who is already horribly in debt yet promises to keep spending more money that he does not have on things that are clearly unnecessary? Why has no one else brought up these questions? Why does the electorate seem to be quite content when career politicians promise to spend money they don't have, forcing their jurisdictions into deeper and deeper debt? I wish I had answers to these questions.
The Denver area is already one of the most bike friendly places in the world. There are hundreds of miles of bike paths throughout the entire front range, plus many more in the mountains, especially in the resort areas. I find the Gov's proposal interesting as I am a heavy user of bike paths. I would guess that I am in the top 1% of cyclists who have ridden the most total miles on the bike paths over the years. I have been cutting back in recent years because some of my favorite paths have become overrun by Yuppies and government regulations. One long path in particular, that follows the South Platte river, used to be a great place to ride. Now it has a sign every mile or so warning me that I need to share the bike path with non-bikers. I have never understood how it can be that a bike path belongs to walkers and runners. It is called a "bike path" after all. The walkers and runners are downright militant about their right to use the bike paths. I remember, while riding a path in Aurora, two morbidly obese women walking Dachshunds who forced me to come to a complete stop while allowing them to pass before I could continue on my way. The hate-stares that emanated from them as I waited for them to waddle (the women, not the dogs) by were terrifying. To make matters worse the path soon came to an abrupt end (I was exploring a new path) and I had to return and repeat the procedure on the way back. I was happy to get away with my life.
Largely because of the presence of walkers, especially Yuppies with strollers or small children, many of the bike paths now have speed limits and cops with radar guns to enforce those speed limits. I remember cruising along at 20 mph for miles on the South Platte pathway. Now the speed limit is 15 mph and I receive hate-stares from little children as well as the cops who are just licking their chops at the possibility of writing a cyclist a ticket for speeding. Still, there are some bike paths, the more remote ones, where I can go and enjoy a ride without being harassed by the local enforcers of the rules. My point is, if anyone has an incentive to see more bike paths built along the Front Range, it is me.
The problem, if there is a problem, is that I am not a socialist. I have no problem free-riding on things that have already been built with stolen taxpayer dollars but I would never support stealing additional money to build more stuff for free-riders like me. I am therefore strongly opposed to using taxpayer funds to build additional bike paths. Of course my opposition is irrelevant. I don't voice my opposition anywhere but this infrequently read blog and I don't vote. Nobody cares what I think about spending $100 million on new bike paths and that is just fine with me. But lots of people do care about the Gov's proposal and they wrote letters to the editor of the Denver Post about the topic last week. Let me share some of them with you today.
Michael Knorr is a committed socialist. He never met a spending program he did not like. Wealth transfer programs are his favorite programs and he believes local career politicians need to step up their commitment to socialism. After the Gov made his comments Michael, or Mikey as I like to call him, wrote a letter to inform all of us that Minneapolis is the real bike friendly capital of the world. Here, in part, is what Mikey wrote, "Minneapolis has built incredible bike routes. The city is circumscribed with two-way bike trails and parallel pedestrian paths. A dedicated bike freeway crosses the entire city, complete with on-off ramps and bike-friendly businesses along the way. Every river and creek seems to have a well marked bike trail, including the mighty Mississippi." Mikey wants Denver to spend, spend and spend some more so that it can be the "bike friendliest city in the country."
Terri Binder takes a more common sense approach to the Gov's proposal. He/she realizes that it is a waste of money to spend $100 million to please and pander to a small percentage of the socialist population of the Denver Metro area. He/she writes that we need to spend those dollars on road maintenance. He/she wrote, "In the meantime we need to focus on maintaining what we already have and hopefully increase maintenance, capacity and safety improvements on our highways." I wonder who the "we" is that Terri writes about. I am certainly not a part of that "we." I don't want any money spent on government highways. I believe all roads and highways should be privately built and maintained. Nevertheless, in the real world Terri's call makes the most socialistic sense.
The most amusing letter came from a retired US Air Force Major General. As a career military man Anthony Przybyslawski, I will call him Tony, sees everything through the light of fighting wars against terrorism and expanding the imperial power of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika around the world. As a Major General he knows how important it is to have a constant stream of canon-fodder enlisting for military service. Without an ongoing supply of young men and women signing up to be killed fighting foreign wars of imperialistic expansion the SDA military would cease to function. Tony wrote, "I was pleased to read about the governor's plan to improve biking and walking infrastructure, including for children going to school. Increasing physical activity can help prevent obesity, which is the leading medical reason why 70 percent of young Coloradans are ineligible for military service." You read that right. What an warmonger Tony turns out to be. How can anyone turn a discussion about bike paths into a military recruitment tool?
I don't know if the money will be appropriated or if the paths will be built. I don't know, if the paths are built, if they will be free from oppressive regulations and militant Yuppie walkers. All I do know is that the career politicians who rule over me should not be spending $100 million that they do not have. That should be the end of the matter.