Thursday, January 17, 2008

Right-wing lawmaker would require bike tax

John Putney is a right-wing Iowa state senator and a complete and utter clod. Although he was only elected in 2002, the Republicans have already made him one of their most powerful idiots in the state legislature. (These days, the worse a lawmaker is, the faster they rise to the top of the party machine.)

Putney wastes the legislature's valuable time on garbage like his resolution that would have established a so-called "Right-To-Work Day." The resolution was an unasked-for propaganda-filled paean to unconstitutional work-for-less laws, which have weakened workers' power.

Now Putney has introduced a bill that would make Iowa the first state to require bicyclists to obtain a license - which is actually a special tax on biking. Unlike the license to drive a car, failing to carry the license at all times results in the revocation of the license and the ability to obtain a license for another year. It applies to all ages, including children who only ride bikes within their neighborhoods (unless the neighborhood is served only by city-owned streets or by roads that have a bike path).

This tax is so clearly an anti-biking bill that there's no use in Putney even trying to hide it (although he tries). We can just picture John Putney hunkering behind a computer screen, logging on to some right-wing message board, and pounding out a semiliterate screed complaining about how, hey, bikes are slow and might someday slow down his SUV for 30 feet until he can get around the bike. He's exactly the sort you'd find in the wingnutosphere.

Folks have an inherent right to freedom of movement and travel. There's also a common law doctrine that says bicycles are entitled to the use of all public roads, the only exception being freeways that lack a companion surface road or path. This tenet cannot be overruled by any statute. Other than freeways, most roads were actually built for bikes, not cars. We should be doing more to encourage biking, not discourage it.

America needs to free up some space for bicycling. One way this should be done would be to regulate SUV's as commercial vehicles.



  1. Tim, I think the reason The Pail stands out as the best blog on the Internet is the way you counter right-wing insanity with equal amounts of left-wing insanity. In this post, for example, you correctly assert that this Iowa bike license is a tax on bicycling and that bicycles should have equal access to roads as cars. But, where it gets nutty is when you suggest SUVs should be regulated as commercial vehicles. That's lunacy.

  2. It makes sense to me.....were suv's intended for everyday use? No they were not.

    I am quite sure most countries already consider suv's to be commercial at least to some extent. Maybe the laws aren't as restrictive as for semis and stuff, but they are more restrictive than for cars.

  3. It doesn't really matter what other countries do. This is America, the land of liberty. At least it once was.