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August 05, 2009

Thoughts on Bicycling and Socialism

“Socialism can only arrive by bicycle.”

A quote attributed to Chilean Socialist Politician Jose Antonio Viera Gallo.

Over on my other blog, Musings of a Mad Macedonian, I went on a rare Political Rant, this morning. ;-D

Dear Mr. President, I Respectfully Disapprove.

THEN...On a whim, I did a Google Search for "Bicycling for Socialism".

I know, I know...I'm a Baaaad Boy! ;-D

Much to my surprise I found more than a few interesting results. ;-D

Mark, of Thought on Bicycles, and the Simple Life, wrote in February:

Socialism??

That's been a political buzzword, lately. I hate the thought of it but a lot of cyclists are enthusiastic about the whole socialism thang. The general thought process from the cycling socialist point o' view is that spreading around the wealth of America will make it harder and more expensive for the general public to live and, therefore, drive more people onto bicycles and away from their automobiles because it's so much cheaper to ride than it is to drive (for general, everyday stuff)..........

I REALLY want to see more people riding bicycles!! It'd be a (personal) dream come true for a mass of people to jump on bikes.....Rich, poor, skinny, round, short, tall, straight, gay, famous, infamous, and the invisible people too. Ride to work, ride to school, ride for leisure, and ride competitively.......It's all great stuff! I don't want the Guv'ment to legislate everybody onto bicycles though!! We'd be losing more than we gain.

He then lists 6  advantages for making everybody ride a bicycle.

And 6 disadvantages to making everybody ride a bicycle.

Read: Socialism??

Matthew Yglesias recently had a accident on his bike, and blogged about it, resulting in a ton of comments, some debating the question of whether "falling off a bicycle makes “an extremely strong case” for socialized medicine" as he tries to claim.

Socialism, Capitalism, and the Banality of Health Care.

Random Rants, of Singapore, writes a fascinating essay, in Sept. 2008, as the 1st of a multi-part "Rant" that, for some reason, turned out to be his last post on his blog:

One tends to blame the nature of Singaporean drivers, infamous for not giving way to other road users and their negative attitudes towards cyclists because “they do not pay road tax thus they have no right to use the roads”. Or we blame the government for not building cycling lanes for us to potter about on our 2 wheel commie-mobiles in tax free bliss. After all, in creating cycling lanes along the roads, the government has to give up opportunities to tax us up to 6 times over, from COE, to road tax, and GST on the car which leads to fuel tax and ERP, not to say parking as well. The infrastructural cost of building cycling lanes are high, and short of raising the low income tax it is difficult to justify expending such a huge amount of money on an extra strip of tarmac when that can be used to generate more revenue.

There is little initiative for the government to implement cycling lanes; pressure from society is still fairly low, given the justifiably negative perception that cycling is sweaty and dangerous, with reckless children (and in recent years foreign nationals) zipping recklessly on the sidewalks. To argue that cycling reduces carbon footprint is a fairly moot point as well. Given that our roads are almost at capacity during rush hour, it is impractical to mark off a portion of the road as designated cycling lanes a la London or Seattle. Thus it would seem that unless cars are reduced as an act of legislation one would need to build into the road reserves, which currently are simply grass verges and storm drains. Coming back to my point on the ecological sensitivity of cycling, while the act itself is sustainable, the creation of cycling lanes, with the repaving of the road reserves and the supporting infrastructural works, has an ecological impact that probably outweighs the benefit, especially if it doesn’t displace the pollutive car as a mode of transport.

Read the rest: On the Socialism of Cycling Lanes, Public Transport and Subsidised Transit: Part 1

If you think the notion of Socialism and Bicycling is a relatively recent phenomenom, think again!

As a history lover I found this post, on another very short-lived blog, Socialists, cycling and Sunny Spain! absolutely fascinating! ;-D

As an offshoot from the the Clarion Cycling Club, the National Clarion Cycling Club 1895 still wishes to support the original principles of the Club which was formed in 1895. The slogan of the original Clarion Cycling Club is “Socialism the Hope of the World” with the motto “Fellowship is Life” and “Lack of Fellowship is death”.

In the late 1880s the bicycle boom and rewakening of socialist principles through various organisations in Britain gave birth to the “synchronisation” of the coming of the Safety bicycle with the spread of Socialism. Tom Tyas, secretary of the Handforth Clarion Cyclists’ Clubhouse recalled it as “a happy combination of natural forces”. The bicycle itself “brought within easy reach all the things which the new philosophy taught (people) to enjoy”. It offered an “escape from city life after the daily round of toil” and gave them “the power to roam on the King’s Highway”.

Read the whole wonderful article: The National Clarion Cycling Club 1895.

For more on the history of the club, there is this wonderful page full of posts, and of old photos! ;-D

In the mid 1930's the Clarion grew rapidly (1934-1,600; 1935-1,200) to about 10,000 members with branches in many towns. However the start of the Second World War (as did the WW1) stifled its growth.

The National Clarion Cycling & Athletic Club still functions today with branches from Bolton to Brighton.

On their History Page is the following:

The Clarion House was built to be a non-profit making co-operative with any excess money to be used in spreading the word of socialism.

This was no accident, no coincidence. It was planned in the hope that others would take it as a model of how society as a whole ought to be organised.

Fascinating stuff, their History Page, and picture collection. ;-D

There are no doubt many other articles I could list, from the hundreds of thousands of results Google came up with, but these will more than suffice to, I hope, stimulate discussion. ;-D

Now, I know that some of my fellow Right-Wing Riders are gonna freak out over the possibility that ridng their Trusty Steed, hither, and yon, could be construed as support for Socialism, but I'm here to say...

CALM DOWN!

Take a deep breath, relax, and KEEP ON PEDALING! ;-D

Do so secure in the knowledge that I, and other long time Conservative BikeBloggers, have your backs.

Um, hee, hee! ;-D

August 5, 2009 in Blogging Cyclists, The Opinionated DUDE | Permalink

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