Mr. O’Rourke, can I call you P.J.? Thanks.
P.J., I read your piece in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, “Dear Urban Cyclists: Go Play in Traffic.” You complained about bikes, and cyclists, with the same whiny grievances and arguments we cyclists have heard before–only funnier.
Soon we’ll be making room on our city streets for scooter and skateboard lanes, Soapbox Derby lanes, pogo-stick lanes, lanes for Radio Flyer wagons (actually more practical than bicycles since you can carry a case of beer—if we’re still allowed to drink beer), stilt lanes, three-legged-race lanes, lanes for skipping while playing the comb and wax paper, hopscotch lanes and Mother-May-I lanes with Mayor Bloomberg at the top of Lenox Hill shouting to the people on Park Avenue, “Take three baby steps!”
Now, I’m not a major-league smart ass like you, P.J. I’ve never made it out of the minors. Look at me. I’m a bike blogger. But I still think I have some idea of what motivates you.
You’re at a party with your fancy Cato Institute friends. You overhear a conversation about, I don’t know, let’s say breastfeeding. You’ve got few zingers about breastfeeding in your pocket, so you let ‘em rip. Cha-ching. Feel the love.
You really don’t know squat about breastfeeding, but that nagging thought is drowned out by the Cato chuckles you’ve scored. You can almost feel Adam Smith’s invisible hand slapping your back.
I’ve been there. Well, not at the Cato Institute, but at those parties where I’ve felt the pressure to be on.
The truth is, you don’t know squat about cycling, or cycling infrastructure either, do you, P.J.?
And those zingers? They’ve been in your pocket since, what, 1987?
You totally phoned this one in, P.J., without so much as a Google search to see if any of it were true. Does the Wall Street Journal care that you plagiarized yourself? (Oh. Probably not.)
Yes, P.J., you’ve pissed me off. You’re my favorite on Wait Wait.. Don’t Tell Me! (Well, second favorite, after Roy Blount Jr.. I’ve actually read one of his books. He researches what he writes about. After Paula Poundstone too. She doesn’t pretend to be smarter than she is. Okay, you’re my third favorite.)
It also says you “hold fantastically wrongheaded opinions about bicycles, cyclists, and cycling infrastructure.” (Alright, I wrote that.)
Back to libertarian thing. You pull out the old canard about bicycle riders not paying their way. It just isn’t true.
If you take into account subsidies for car makers, tax breaks for oil companies, the military budget that secures the flow of oil, and all that socialized asphalt, the automobile–the kind powered by fossil fuels–is the most heavily subsidized form of transportation. (For today, I’ll even leave out the environmental costs not paid by motorists.)
When you aim your IBM Selectric at that boondoggle, maybe I’ll take you seriously as a libertarian.
Do your Cato friends take you seriously? Are they laughing with you, or at you, P.J.?
I use a bike for transportation almost every day. But bicycles and pogo sticks can be used for recreation, therefore you lump them into the “toy” category.
You get chummy with conservative intellectuals. But you are also known as a satirist and humorist. Therefore I’ll lump you into the “entertainer” category.
When I think about it that way, I’m not so mad at you anymore.