So-called “Progressive” talk show host John “Sly” Sylvester doubled down on the “Cars First” rhetoric last Friday, flipping his rationale from “because we pay for the roads” to “because there are more of us and we are bigger.” But is such a power-based rationale really representative of someone who claims to be a Progressive? Hell no!
The Wikipedia article on Progressivism states:
“Progressivism is a general political philosophy advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes usually in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies. Progressivism emerged as part of a more general response to the vast changes brought by industrialization and as an alternative to the traditional conservative response to social and economic issues.”
Interestingly, Progressivism seems to be defined in terms of its opposition to other ideologies, one of those being the reactionary ideology. According to Wiki, “A reactionary is an individual that holds reactionary political viewpoints which cause them to seek to return to a previous state (the status quo ante) in a society.” Wiki’s take on Conservatism suggests a similar affinity for the status quo.
Because Sly invoked the political power of the majority I think we can take it as fact that the status quo today in terms of transportation is “Cars First”. The full power spectrum of Republicans from Thuy Pham-Remmele to Scott Walker to John Boehner demonstrate an intense aversion for anything other than the personal automobile. Sly’s comments are more in line with Vicki McKenna’s than someone who calls themselves a Progressive.
But beyond the simple definition of various ideologies, opposing bicycling facilities and demonizing those that use them goes against a host of goals that a Progressive like Sly should support. Goals like protecting the environment, getting the big oil companies out of our wallets and politics, improving the health of our children, or simply helping the poor (80% of which do not own an automobile.) Part of promoting those goals is building a bicycling experience that can compete with the driving experience, and you can’t do that without doing things like making bicyclists feel safe by laying down some bike boxes, building dedicated lanes and installing lighting on major paths.
It is time for Sly to pull his head out of his tailpipe.
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