Pro-bicycle pitches for conservative ears

Bicycle facility funding often takes verbal punches from some conservative voices who don’t consider it as a valid transportation option as driving.

Here are a couple advocacy approaches that might be more successful when appealing to conservative audiences.

Increasing National Security

William Lind, director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation, was recently intereviewed in the Infrastructurist. And though he was talking about public transit, one could easily substitute biking into this same argument.

National Security is always a big interest to conservatives and any time you can talk in those terms, you’re going to have their attention. Virtually every American knows that our greatest single national security vulnerability at the moment, the one that has enmeshed us in the middle east, is our dependence on foreign oil, most of it coming from unstable parts of the world. And this can drag us into unwanted wars, as it has it can result not only in high gas prices, like we had last summer, but in complete cutoffs like we had in ’73 and ’79, where events halfway around the world suddenly leave our gas stations without any gas to sell. And at present, if that happens, most Americans have no backup.

Reducing Public Health Costs

The Associated Press recently noted a new report on obesity in the U.S. and its affect on Medicare costs.

Health economists once made the harsh financial calculation that the obese would save money by dying sooner, notes Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit public health group. But more recent research instead suggests they live nearly as long but are much sicker for longer, requiring such costly interventions as knee replacements and diabetes care and dialysis. Studies show Medicare spends anywhere from $1,400 to $6,000 more annually on health care for an obese senior than for the non-obese.

“There isn’t a magic bullet. We don’t have a pill for it,” said Levi, whose group is pushing for health reform legislation to include community-level programs that help people make healthier choices like building sidewalks so people can walk their neighborhoods instead of drive, and providing healthier school lunches.

“It’s not going to be solved in the doctor’s office but in the community, where we change norms,” Levi said.

Making our communities more bikeable can play a major role in reducing obesity and reducing public health care costs.

Where does Michigan stand? Here are some health statistics from the report:

  • 29% of Michigan adults are obese
  • Michigan has the ranked ninth in the percentage of obese adults
  • 12% of Michigan high school students are obese
  • On average, this obesity costs Michigan residents $291 per person in medical expenses. This is $33 per person above the national average.

Which state is the fattest? Mississippi has the highest obesity rate at nearly 33% — a title they’ve held for the past five years.

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One Response to “Pro-bicycle pitches for conservative ears”

  1. Mike Ingels Says:

    Also, remember that bicycle routes can double as emergency escape routes. As an example, roads near the Fermi II nuclear power plant should be widened to allow escape in the event of an attack. While they are at it, these extra shoulders could be labeled as bike routes.

    Also, social justice is important. Many Republicans are really working class populists. Working class people deserve good parks and trails just like rich people in cities and suburbs do.

    Also, conservatives do like to drink clean air and drink clean water. If ground level, practical issues like parks and bike routes are presented without grandiose philosophical positions, they can win conservative support.

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