The novelist H.G. Wells said that he felt hope for the human race whenever he saw an adult on a bicycle. Our current president is now notorious in his love of bicycling, even if he falls off once in awhile. What does this mean for national transportation policy? If he rides enough (or some wags might say, if he falls enough), will his administration see the bicycle as the machine of liberation, energy independence and obesity slayer that it can be?
Not being privy either to the mind of George Bush nor to the inside workings of the ruling party I can only guess. I would like to be like Mr. Wells, optimistically hoping that by hopping on a bike and discovering the world under his own power, Mr. Bush will experience the epiphany that I did when I realized that I didn’t need a car and all its burdens in order to live a full and fun life. I could actually do what I had to do, and have fun and save money while I was doing it.
The other, more cynical side of me tells my joyous, bicycle zealot self that I am fooling myself. After all, Bush rides on trails on his own (or other’s) private ranches. No traffic tussling for him. He just has to look out for all those Secret Service guys and the odd root and rock. So, he won’t have any opportunity to see the bicycle as a transportation tool, one that we need to use more in crafting sustainable cities. He also cycles solely for the exercise. Sorry, guys and gals in Spandex™, but the bicycle’s real value is in the day to day, mundane tasks of getting to the store, school and the job. Until he rides into Crawford for a latté or a replacement chain for his chain saw I doubt he will think of his expensive steed as anything but a toy.
Of course, it may just be a class thing. Remember when John Kerry rode through town on his $5000 bike clad in racing colors and Spandex? He probably hasn’t hopped on his bike to ride to work since he was in college either.