Need to encourage bicycling in Tucson

Editor:

Anyone who depends on a bike to get from home to work to school has at one time or another feared death. It's scary. People will argue ("Critical Mass Bicycle Ride both illegal and unsafe," April 7) that Tucson is better than Seattle, or that Mountain Avenue is excellent, but the bottom line is the same: bike lanes in Tucson are inadequate, commuting is scary and people are discouraged from riding bikes. It's foolish to say that we don't have the money for decent bike lanes. The people who say this are probably the same self-satisfied people comparing Tucson to Seattle.

Look at Madison, WI. It has beautiful bike lanes downtown and near the university. People value biking there as a serious mode of transportation and they have the lanes to prove it.

Imagine Mountain Avenue-type bike lanes all over Tucson and then decide if you'd ride your bike more often. Picture yourself joining hundreds of people in your own lane not just a few feet wide, and not just one day a month, but every day, all the time. You're not blocking traffic. You are traffic.

We have the money. We just need more imagination, more Critical Mass education and more cyclists on the road. We also need Mayor George Miller to stop being spineless.

His legislators and police, who denied us a Critical Mass permit under the pretense that Tucson couldn't afford one, showed up last Thursday with a helicopter, bike cops, plainclothes cops, walls of police cars, a gang unit and riot gear, to spend several hours arresting people who were riding in the bike lane.

Bikes are not second class. Real cyclists never "graduate" from their last bicycle to their first and second car. Their bike is their car. They know that eating and spewing oil from within a sealed status symbol is a rip-off compared to taking long, healthy and sustainable rides through quiet neighborhoods. They know that our bikes are friendly and our roads should be too.

Anne Carl

Education Graduate Student

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