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Old MACDONALD had a farm


And on his farm he had a cow


With a moo moo here

And a moo moo there

Here a moo, there a moo

Everywhere a moo moo

Old MacDonald had a farm


Old MACDONALD had a farm


I won’t go any further. I think you get the idea.

In like manner, the Mayor of North Vancouver had some roads. He put in some bike lanes on these roads. Here a bike lane, there a bike lane, everywhere a bike lane. E-I-E-I-O

Why this recent inundation of bike lanes?

Well, bicycling encourages good health. Maybe, even, who knows, possibly, tourism.

What are the costs thereof? Each and every last bike lane on these city streets takes away one traffic lane that could have been used for automobiles. This brings about stultifying, congested traffic where there need not be any such thing. Ambulances move more slowly, which alone might dissipate any gains in physical well-being from these scourges.

Does making the roadway super accessible to bikers really help this sport? Not by a long shot. For a goodly part of it, North Vancouver is perched part of the way up on Grouse and Seymour Mountains, with a few more located in between them. Neither is exactly Mount Everest, but they are not molehills either. An informal perusal, gained from driving around this suburb of Vancouver for many years, shows there are precious few bikers actually riding around on these lanes. My favorite thoroughfare in this regard is 29th Street, that stretch of it located between Lonsdale and William. There is a very steep hill here. On the rare occasions a bicycle is used there, a rider walks it up, it is so sheer.

Are these lanes really necessary, even supposing the hills are not a great barrier? No. There are sidewalks all over the place with street level endings to them. These were initially placed there for the benefit of wheel-chair occupants, of whom a perusal will show there are hardly any. Bikes could easily stay on these sidewalks, were there any such athletes around in the first place. Nor would they disturb walkers, of whom there are also precious few. Most walkers head for the Sea Wall in West Vancouver, which is always crowded or for walkways near the ocean, which are flatter and more welcoming.

In addition, this vast panoply of bike lanes discriminates against the elderly, of whom there are many in North Vancouver. Retirees seldom ride bikes on the precipitous hills.

Why this vast misallocation of resources? It is simple. The people in charge lose no money for their errors. Says brilliant economist Thomas Sowell in this regard: “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” 

What would it be like if private enterprise were in charge of the roads, streets and avenues of this nice little town? Would there be a bike lane here, a bike lane there, a bike lane everywhere, E-I-E-I-O, more than you can shake a stick at? Not bloody likely. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” would lead them in the direction of pleasing customers, so as to maximize profits. And that would be to promote cars, not these two wheeled horseless carriages.

Excessive bike lanes, begone! At the very least, don’t cram any more of them down our thoats.

Walter Block holds the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Economics at the J. A. Butt School of Business at Loyola University New Orleans, and is a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

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