Long before the recent news blip about Chicago's proposed bike tax I was already thinking about how America would react to a surge in transportation cycling. We would be monetized, of course.
The concept of cyclists as freeloaders is a major rallying point for the champions of motoring. You can explain about how taxation really works and the relative burden non-motorized users place on infrastructure until you run out of breath. A large percentage of the opponents of cycling simply will not believe you. Cyclists are parasites. Every improvement made for our benefit adds to our perceived debt.
I am willing to look at a full and honest audit to see whether cyclists are holding up their end. But a bicycle can be ridden in so many places and different ways that it would be hard to draw a firm line around the bicyclists who owe society and the ones who may safely and freely play in their designated areas where they don't bother the grownups.
Every form of mobility except bicycling and walking has a price tag attached to it. And, if you walk to the bus or the light rail, even if you don't get a seat you pay a fare. Wherever people gather you end up forking out to hang around. So, inevitably, bicyclists come under pressure to dig in the pocket lint for their contribution. The more successful we become, the more people will want a piece of the action. It's the American way.
Is there any chance we'll discuss the issues rationally, as cooperating adults? Not if our entire political history is any indication. But one can hope. Everything has a true cost. It needs to be fairly divided once we know what it is. Then we know what's reasonable and what's excessive.