Greeson: Bike folks keep wanting more and more

A cyclist rides on Market Street during sub-freezing daytime weather downtown on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn.
photo Jay Greeson

Hey, pedal that somewhere else.

According to Times Free Press outdoors reporter David Cobb, some big-time state bicycle bigwigs are trying to leverage the controversial gas tax legislation in their favor.

According to Cobb's story Friday: "BikeWalk Tennessee president Anthony Siracusa voiced support for Gov. Bill Haslam's proposed gas tax increase while speaking to a group of Chattanooga cyclists on Thursday night, specifically praising a portion of the proposal that would allow municipalities to hold referendums on local tax increases for transit projects in their communities."

This may surprise some of you, but there is a lot of merit to the gas tax the governor is proposing. There are major road projects that have to be addressed, and hand-wringing without hat-passing is as productive as asking Hillary what she thinks of the current administration.

Yes, some of my regular e-mailers are already planning their diatribes, and that's cool. We enjoy that and pedal away.

This is not about bike lanes - we all know where I stand on those - as much as it is about making transportation safe for all of us. Be it roads or methods of using them, this needs to be addressed.

(And as wise reader Matt Stevens has pointed out, there was another staggering wreck downtown that points to the need to reassess and recalibrate our roads and whether they are the right size.)

As much as our transportation infrastructure needs help, I am forever wary of any state law that opens the taxing option to municipalities.

Yes, the clause says tax hikes would have to be approved through a referendum, but that opens a very real chance for the motivated minority to sneak a tax increase right by a disinterested public.

In fact, there is some concern that the vocal minority that is the bicycle community in our town is carrying way too much weight.

Deep breaths, right. Deep, relaxed breaths.

I have admitted previously the downtown bike lanes have turned out better than I expected. Good.

I hailed the pedaling pushers for ditching the idea of bike lanes in the tight spaces of Frazier Avenue.

I have advised that more bike lanes are coming, like a transportation version of kudzu.

The BikeWalk folks led by Siracusa have worked the system. Kudos.

Now, they are working this further expansion of bike lanes as a job boast.


"If you can't get to a job, how are you going to keep a job?," Siracusa asked the group gathered at the Daily Ration in North Chattanooga on Thursday. "This is fundamental stuff. We need more resources to make this happen."

First, the people who bike to work choose to bike to work. Pegging bike lanes as a chance for someone without a car to get from Ooltewah to downtown or from downtown to Volkswagen is fictionally shaping a narrative to fit your pitch. Especially when there are countless folks choosing to ignore CARTA on a daily basis.

Second, every group claims to need resources from the governmental teat, but just because the baseball cards in the spokes make more noise does not mean they deserve a bigger cut.

Contact Jay Greeson at [email protected] or 423-757-6343.