There's a certain style of anti-bike opinion piece that gets recycled incessantly in American newspapers.
Someone, usually a man who's been on the masthead for decades, sees a bike lane on the drive to work, becomes irrationally upset, and pens a screed that revels in its own ignorance.
Keith Crain, chair of the business press powerhouse Crain Communications, has given us a rousing entry in the genre with this op-ed in Crain's Detroit Business.
Let's walk through some of the highlights.
1. Some public agency put these bike lanes in without personally informing Keith Crain.
Keith Crain saw some bike lanes and wants you to know that he is so mad!
I am not sure whose idea it was, but all of a sudden, we are spending a heck of a lot of money to convert Detroit into a bicycle paradise.
Where there once were three lanes for motorized travel, now they have cut back to two by adding some poles and turned the third lane into a bicycle lane.
The city seems to be planning on a whole lot more bicycles than any of us have seen before, and they are converting our city streets into bicycle lanes all over the city.
He concludes, morosely:
We were the Motor City for a long time. Now it looks like we will have to change our name.
2. Keith Crain hasn't bothered to gather any basic information about the bike lanes.
Can "motor scooters" use the lanes? Keith Crain does not know! Researching what local traffic law says about bike lanes before printing a piece for thousands of readers would be too much trouble, however.
And although I have not seen any motorcycles using these new lanes, I assume motorcycles are not allowed. I have no idea about motor scooters or motorized bicycles or even the newest electric variety of bicycles, which I am told have become the rage in certain parts of the country.
Crain also isn't sure how many people are biking. Not many, he suspects, and his unconfirmed guesswork is good enough to print in the newspaper that bears his name:
I must admit, I am mystified as to why our city is spending all this money to make these changes. My guess is that we are talking about a 20,000-to-1 ratio of cars to bicycles, and that is only when the weather is perfect in the summer. I have no idea what the plans are when it is raining or worse, snowing; maybe they will turn into snowmobile lanes to promote tourism.
Next time, Keith Crain might want to look up the bike commute rates that are easily retrievable from the Census. About 1 percent of Detroiters commute primarily by bike [PDF]. That may not sound like much, but the share of bike commuters is rising. Just a few years ago Detroit's bike commute mode share wasn't large enough to register. The bike network is making bicycling safer and more appealing, and if cycling growth continues at its current pace, in a few years tens of thousands of Detroiters will be biking every day.
3. Keith Crain believes in the awesome political power of cyclists.
What anti-bike op-ed would be complete without a reference to an all-powerful "bike lobby"?
Certainly there must be better uses for our tax dollars than setting up something that costs plenty and serves few people. They must have a powerful lobby.
When will little guys like car commuter Keith Crain, long-time publisher of a global media company, finally get streets that reflect their modal preferences!
4. Keith Crain's headshot does not approve.
Just look at that mug. We're guessing Keith Crain is a guy who frowns on many things.
Thank you, Crain's, for this hilarious op-ed. The world is coming apart right now, and we really needed a laugh.