Big Bike and other Anti-Car Groups Take Advantage during COVID-19 Crisis: Keep the US Moving Blog for April 1, 2020

By Shelia Dunn, NMA Communications Director

This blog is a collaboration between the National Motorists Association and the Keep the US Moving (KUSM) group written and curated by NMA Communications Director Shelia Dunn (with some guest authors as indicated). The KUSM weekly blog focuses on road diets, traffic calming, and programs such as Vision Zero and Complete Streets.

The NMA and the KUSM believe that it is important to include stories that oppose our viewpoint. We try to indicate those as needed.

We would love to hear from you about the Keep the US Moving Blog. Please feel free to comment below the post and find additional resources to fight road diets below. If you are concerned about any of these issues in your local area, please contact the NMA, nma@motorists.org or connect with KUSM at KeepTheUSMoving@gmail.com and find additional information on their website at https://www.keeptheusmoving.com/.

Big Bike and other Anti-Car Groups Take Advantage during COVID-19 Crisis

While most of us are trying to shelter in place the best we can during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, many bike and anti-car groups are wasting no time in making this crisis about the streets.

The NMA and KUSM have never been against bicyclists or pedestrians. Instead, we advocate that all road users should use the same set of traffic rules so that everyone understands that traffic safety is everyone’s responsibility. We do not believe the Vision Zero edict that all traffic accidents are always the fault of the driver. People make mistakes, whether they are drivers, pedestrians, or bicyclists, and remember most of us are hybrids of the three. We also maintain that there are better alternatives to building safer streets and intersections other than road diets, traffic calming, and banning cars altogether.

In the past two weeks, though, since many of us have had to stay in place, the articles and even webinars that have popped up talking about banning cars and tactical urbanism are astounding.

The adage, “Don’t let a good crisis, go to waste,” certainly has been put to good use. Here are just some of the headlines (most are from the various Streetsblog outlets around the country):

The New York Times posted this article: Density Is New York City’s Big ‘Enemy’ in the Coronavirus Fight, which examines how easily COVID-19 (or any infectious agent) can spread when people live in densely populated areas.

Here is Streetsblog’s response: Suburbanization is Not the Answer to COVID-19. For some reason, the writers seem offended that anyone deigns to talk unfairly about urban cores. Despite what all these folks think—Americans are still going to live where we want, whether that is urban cores, suburbs, small towns, farms, ranches, houses, apartments, and even RVs. Many of us will continue to drive cars and other vehicles, no matter where we live.

A webinar recently come to our attention as well: Tactical Urbanism as a COVID-19 Response, which is a worldwide webinar coming out of Bogota, Columbia. The moderators plan to discuss principles and strategies for COVID-19.

What is tactical urbanism, you ask? Some call it guerilla urbanism…it’s usually a low-cost, temporary feel-good change to a built environment often in cities—pop-up bike lanes using pumpkins as markers, or pop-up parklets by taking over street parking.

Tactical urbanism perpetrators think that doing this kind of scene will make everyone else rethink how streets should be used. Whether we like it or not, streets and roads have been built and used primarily to transport people, goods, and services from one place to another. That function can never really change, reimagined, or not.

Before COVID-19 came on the scene, the AARP actually emailed a couple of newsletters devoted to tactical urbanism…the association calls it “Pop-up Demonstrations.” AARP is a partner with Complete Streets and pushes this idea hard.

I only see this trend of trying to ban cars from streets during the COVID-19 crisis continuing. What can we do? Take action—make your feelings heard on any article you read or see on TV or hear on the radio. Write comments, make phone calls, and don’t let big bike and other anti-car groups bully your city into doing something that might be temporary but could quickly become permanent.

Here are five other top headlines that are important to all who care about keeping the US moving.

I will give some kudos to Streetsblog for posting this article recently: Protected Bike Lanes, Seniors and the Disabled. When protected bike lanes go in, handicapped parking and safe cutouts to sidewalks are usually taken away. Many protected big lanes are a huge issue for the disabled and for cities that need to remain in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA.

Resources

Check out the NMA Facebook Page called the War on Cars Watch! If you are interested in joining the closed group, follow the directions on the page. If you would like to know more about the National Motorists Association, check out our website at motorists.org. Also, if you would like to contact the NMA with a question or a link to an article about this topic or have a video of a road diet in your neck of the woods, feel free to contact us via email at nma@motorists.org.

Keep the US Moving is a grassroots organization dedicated to publicizing the detrimental effects of arterials road diets. We connect people who want to share experiences and information to help their communities craft truly safer roads. KUSM has a very active and closed Facebook group. Connect with them at KeepTheUSMoving@gmail.com and find additional information on their website at https://www.keeptheusmoving.com/.

Here are a few NMA Blog Posts that might interest you:

Road Diets and Traffic Calming

Vision Zero and Complete Streets

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