“I Want to Ride My Bicycle / I Want to Ride My Bike / I Want to Ride My Bicycle / I Want to Ride It Where I Like”
I wasn’t aware that Saint Charles was considering banning bicycles, but, thankfully, the measure didn’t pass.
Individuals may move freely in Saint Charles on a bike for the time being, but this may unfortunately change in the future. According to a KMOX article, the committee will consider two alternatives:
One would require permits for large cycling events, another would color-code certain roads to let cyclists know how dangerous they are.
Every action involves risks. It’s not the job of government to protect individuals from behavior that has internalized risks. If a person happens to view biking as very dangerous, then he or she can choose not to do do it. I bike in Saint Louis frequently, and I accept the associated risk as a free adult. I also drive my car, which also has risks — it’s possible that I could crash into a telephone pole, or another car.
Does it follow, then, that local governments should ban biking in urban areas because it is dangerous? No. To the contrary, government and urban planners often encourage biking over driving in urban areas. Biking in Saint Louis city is pretty dangerous, but the city encourages me to do it. Biking in downtown Minneapolis is similarly risky, but the local government sponsors a public bike sharing program, as I observed during my last visit.
If a local government were serious about saving its residents from physical harm, it would ban cars in addition to bikes, and it would also ban planes from flying in the airspace because one could potentially fall out of the sky and land on somebody.
Furthermore, banning bicycles would likely have the unintended consequence of making biking more dangerous. In today’s status quo, drivers look out for bicyclists because hitting one with their car will lead to severe consequences, such as getting sent to jail or paying a steep fine. If bikes were banned, drivers would be less likely to keep an eye out for those bikers who decide to brave the roads anyway.