March 6, 2013

Is Legislation The Only Answer?

I was wrong when I thought the Thanksgiving Family Protection Act would be the most ridiculous bill introduced in the Missouri Legislature this year.

Now some legislators want to get bicyclists off the roads, presumably so cars can drive faster. The cyclist ban would apply to state roads within 2 miles of a state bicycle path or trail. Missouri Rep. Bart Korman (R-Dist. 99), who introduced the bill, said that its purpose is to “encourage people to use the bicycle trails that are for the bicycles and pedestrians and not for motor vehicles.”

Should the answer to our aggravations always be to make them illegal? With the Thanksgiving Family Protection Act, lawmakers sought to close retail stores on Thanksgiving because they felt workers should spend time with family. That is a reflection of their ideals and their preferences— but not necessarily everyone else’s. The same is true with the proposed bicycling ban. Korman would prefer that cyclists stay off the road, but many cyclists would like to share the road. Why can’t they? He is not saying it is incredibly dangerous. Even if it were, people do incredibly dangerous legal and illegal things everyday, and whether we like it or not, that is their own choice. We cannot restrict people from doing everything we do not like.

This is a situation in which legislators should ask themselves whether we actually need a law. Making things illegal is not the only way to impact behavior. Look at texting while driving, for example. Which method do you think is more effective in reducing texting while driving, Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge or a state law? I think we all know the answer to that. Let’s just say I doubt Stedman ever texts, “U were gr8 on tv 2day O,” while driving.

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