“A Bicycle Is Not a Transportation Device”

Did you commute by bike this morning? (I’m not at the office yet today, but that’s how I’m going to get there.) If so, you might be surprised to hear that "a bicycle is not a transportation device." Those are the perplexing words of John Cook, a supervisor in Fairfax County, Virginia. 

The FABB Blog (a project of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling) has the story: 

IMG_3461_703398.jpgTry telling these Fairfax County commuters their bikes aren’t "transportation devices." (Photo: FABB Blog)

[A]t a recent Board of Supervisors Transportation Committee meeting, [Cook] said,
"I don’t believe a bicycle is a transportation device. I think it’s a
recreation device. The big problem is people don’t want to ride their
bike in the rain or get sweaty before work."

Supervisor Cook
needs to get out more. Every day people in Fairfax County use bicycles
to get to work, shops, and to run errands. They use bikes to get to
Metro, to libraries, and yes, some even ride to jobs at the Government
Center. Some people don’t want to ride in the rain but many do because
they have few other options. You could ask some of the workers pictured [right] who are receiving free bike lights. They ride in the rain, snow, and darkness to get to jobs around the county.

It’s great to learn that FABB has a lights giveaway program similar to the Los Angeles–based "Ciudad de Luces" one we mentioned a couple of weeks back. But it sounds like it will take more than flashing blinkies for Supervisor Cook to see the bicycles being used for transportation right in front of him. So the FABB Blog is asking its readers to give him a call and let him know that people do ride to get things done.

More from around the network: The National Journal’s Transportation Expert Blog asks if the TIGER grants announced last week should serve as a model for the next surface transportation bill. Louisville’s CART blog has the latest on pending transit cuts in that Kentucky city. And WalkBikeJersey asks if three-foot passing laws might not actually put cyclists in more danger.

  • Having lived near the government center for a number of years, I can count on two hands the number of times I saw a bicycle anywhere near the government center. Fairfax County, especially in its western portion, is the quintessential auto-centric suburban sprawl. It is extremely hostile to any alternative forms of transportation, including bicycle or walking. Unless you happen to live and work directly adjacent to the W&OD rail trail conversion, even in old towns such as Vienna or old cities such as Fairfax, you are taking your life into your hands attempting even half mile trips on the roads. The only people that you see riding on the main roads in the area are those who have no choice: primarily hispanic immigrants. They are at tremendous risk on roads that were designed mainly for high speed auto travel (speeds in excess of 50mph on local routes controlled by light signals are not unusual).

    It doesn’t surprise me that Cook made that statement. Anyone that looks around that area and sees a bicyclist recognizes the extreme risk he is taking and reaches the logical conclusion that transportation cycling *there* is not particularly sensible. It’s people like Cook that have created this situation, though, by supporting development priorities that have prioritized the automobile at the expense of all other forms of transportation. It’s a vicious, self-fulfilling cycle.

  • Erik

    What a maroon!

    John Cook
    9002 Burke Lake Road
    Burke, VA 22015
    703-425-9300
    braddock@fairfaxcounty.gov

    And here is his law firm:
    http://www.cookkitts.com/johncook.php

    It is located at:
    3554 Chain Bridge Road
    Suite 402
    Fairfax, Virginia 22030
    (703) 865-7480 phone
    (703) 434-3510 fax

  • I just emailed him to “Get with the Program!”

  • Ha, I just got hit this morning, and it completely bent my front rim. The motorist did not even try to deny that it was her fault (and yes, the police were involved). But the whole time she acted completely indignant, as if I was wasting her time. While we waited for the police report to be written up, and when I asked her how she intended to fund my new wheel, she kept giving me all kinds of, “I’m so busy, I don’t have time for this! I need to drop my dog off at doggy day care and get to work!”

    That’s right. Motorists are the only people who actually have places to go and things to do. The rest of us just circle the city on bicycles all day for no damn reason. (And yes, I was on my way to work at the time, and arrived 90 minutes late!).

  • You don’t have to go to Fairfax County to encouter this attitude. There are a number of members on the Community Board 8 who like to express this view whenever a request for bicycle safety improvement or infrastructure comes up.

    If that offends you, come to the Community Board 8 meeting this Thursday night at 6:30 and show your support for an improved cycling/SBS route on First and Second Avenues. Community Board 8 is where the gaping two-mile hole in the proposed cycling route lies.

  • I ride 3 miles to work every day, all year round. There are only a handful of day (leas than 5) that I drive to work because it is raining incredibly hard.

    My workplace is office-casual and despite my daily ride ,I’m dressed as well as anyone there.

    Only in the summer do I sweat a little but the results would often be the same if I drove because the inside of my car would be hot and wouldn’t cool down till I got to work anyway. If you leave early enough in the morning, its cool enough not to sweat over 3 level miles. If its really hot I where a t-shirt, then change quickly into my office shirt.

    Also, not everyone works in an office like myself or Mr. Cook. Many people work in laborious occupations where sweating is part of the package. Sweating on the way to work really isn’t an issue for people who sweat while oat work.

    Mr. Cook really does need to get out beyond is insular world a little more.

  • Andy makes a good point. Some riding to a kitchen job doesnt care about sweating.

  • The car is an awful transportation vehicle.

  • Edward Re

    The people of Portland disagree!! Unfortunately 99% of Sydneysiders agree which is where I live.

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