Aug 202007

Bike path near Homer, Michigan

Is it true that bike paths like the one in this photo are responsible for bridges falling into the Mississippi River?

I encountered this one on a July 2005 bike ride to Homer, Michigan. I’ve been there since, and still haven’t seen any good reason for that particular bike path to exist. The money would have been better spent on the road alongside, which would have made conditions better for both cars and bicycles.

A Wall Street Journal editorial, “Of Bridges and Taxes,” tells how tax money for highways in Minnesota was spent on many things other than what taxpayers probably thought they were buying. One of these was bike paths.

I’m all for things we can do to encourage greater use of bicycles for transportation, but bike paths are not usually the way to do it. Sometimes bike paths do accomplish that purpose, but often the money spent on bike paths is a sop to interest groups, and NOT a way of fostering alternative means of transportation. Those paths are usually for recreation, not transportation. They don’t usually take me where I want to go. For that I need roads, often the same roads that cars use.

As for the falling bridges, the WSJ article contains this sentence of the day: “Minnesotans already pay twice as much in taxes per capita than residents in New Hampshire and Texas–states that haven’t had a major bridge collapse.”