Is the tea party anti-bike lanes?

Tea party hates bike lanes?

Tea party hates bike lanes?

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

Auntie Ruth was getting her required dose of The New York Times from her usual source: The Sacramento Bee, where, sadly, reprinting the news that fits is cheaper than paying a staff writer. Anyway, when, whoa, an article stopped her dead in her tracks. Titled “Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot,” tea party activists are depicted as “showing up at planning meetings to denounce bike lanes.”

These are the times in which we live, but … anti-bike lane? Anti-speed bump, that Ruthie can understand. But anti-bike lane? That’s like being anti-shower curtain, or anti-turn signal. And while we’re on it, what’s up with that commie Tooth Fairy? (And it’s Auntie Ruth to you, bub, not Anti Ruth.)

These are the times in which we live. The article went on to summarize the tea party’s national efforts against Agenda 21, a nonbinding 1992 U.N. resolution that encourages “nations to use fewer resources and conserve open land.” The tea partiers’ efforts, which extend past bike lanes to high-speed rail and preserving rural lands, have an old-fashioned X-Files paranoia to them and are building steam on Fox News, and in Virginia, Maine and even here in California—Rep. Wally Herger felt sufficiently hectored by the tea partiers to write an op-ed in Siskiyou Daily News contextualizing Agenda 21.

But bike lanes?

A study from University of Massachusetts looked at 58 projects in 11 states and found that cycle-oriented infrastructure created 11.6 jobs for every $1 million spent (vs. 7.8 for road-only projects, as reported in Fast Company). That hasn’t stopped a Republican-backed transportation initiative in Congress that, if passed, will take away the transportation-enhancement program, “the most popular program in the entire federal transportation arena where we had requirements to be spent on bike and pedestrian” projects, according to Oregon Democrat (and biking enthusiast) Rep. Earl Blumenauer. The cuts would include the Federal Safe Routes to School. Yep, bike paths for kids. Chop ’em.

Be glad you live in Sacramento, where bike lanes are not particularly controversial. According to Ed Cox, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, bike lanes are scheduled to be painted on I, J, Fifth, Ninth and 10th streets and Capitol Mall. Fifth, Ninth, 10th, G and H streets are being considered for reconfiguration as one lane streets, with bicycle lanes on either side of the traffic. The work will be completed in 2012.

Just don’t tell the tea party.