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Old 05-01-02, 05:35 AM   #1
Richard D
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London Protests

http://uk.fc.yahoo.com/m/mayday.html

Is it me or is this in danger of becoming 'cyclists lead day of riots'?

Hopefully not, but I wish Critical mass wouldn't do this sort of thing. If we get last years anti-globilization/I'm-just-here-for-a-fight riots again cycling gets linked in by the media.

I don't want cycling to be seen as fringe behaviour, I want it to be part of mainstream culture.

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Old 05-01-02, 07:58 AM   #2
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Well you can wish all you want. But the reason why critical mass and other such pseudo-activist organizations engage in such behavior is that they are basically fascist groups that want to impose their radical environmentalist agenda (and standards of behavior) on everyone except themselves. The same thing happens to all 'radical' movements: they get captured by the lunatic fringe. Thus by 1970 the anti 'war' movement specialized in throwing molotov cocktails, rocks, and debris at soldiers with guns in their hands. (it sure came a long way from the days of Joan Baez!) A brief dose of their own medicine at Kent State that spring kind of mellowed them out, and I imagine something similar might have to be the way to calm down the eco-anti-globalization freaks.

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Old 05-01-02, 08:28 AM   #3
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Roughstuff, some would argue that the US government has been "captured by the lunatic fringe."

First of all, as much as I dislike the CM demos, it's a stretch of unbelievable proportions to call CM "fascist." Anarchist, perhaps... extreme, maybe. They don't espouse any coherent ideology, let alone a fascist ideology; in fact, they are essentially [IMO] people who have a lot of angst over the way the world is going who express it as coherently as possible in an incoherent, non-systematic way. It is post-modern[ist] in the extreme, but certainly not fascist.

As for the anti-globalization demonstrations, I see a lot of the same thing at work. I have been teaching university students in their 20s for some years now, and I think I have a fairly good idea of what makes them tick politically. The ones on the right are basically complacent, while the ones on the left feel frustrated that they want to see changes happen in their country/world but have no organizaed medium to effect those changes. With the copting of social democratic parties and the current moribund state of left-wing political organizations, they don't see any way to achieve their political goals through traditional political means... so they take to the streets.

The problem is that it's all critique with no analysis or programme. It is post-modern in as much as it is a politics of feeling.

You may not agree with them; personally, I do. I don't, hwoever, think that anything they are doing is going to be all that constructive until they organize. The same goes for CM. I would dearly love to see all non-essential motorized vehicles excluded from city centres. I don't think the CM strategy will achieve it, though.
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Old 05-01-02, 09:10 AM   #4
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Benito Mussolini's definition of fascism:
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/m...i-fascism.html

A general definition of anarchism:
http://www.spunk.org/library/intro/sp001639.html

Velocipedio, just what do you mean by your comment stating that "the US government has been captured by the lunatic fringe."?
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Old 05-01-02, 09:14 AM   #5
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One purpose of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition's "same rights, same rules, same roads" slogan is to legitimize bicycling and to characterize it as a rational mainstream behaviour. We have learned how to work within the system to obtain positive results for bicyclists, as Walk San Diego is now doing for pedestrians.

Out society needs to do a much better job of teaching its citizens how to be effective advocates, how to enfranchise and empower themselves in a positive, effective, self-affirming fashion, and how to identify or to create win-win opportunities when negotiating with their adversaries. Lawful vehicular cyclng and cordial telephone and email exchanges with elected officials are a good start.

The American political left needs to acknowledge capitalism's unmatched ability to motive individuals, to spur technological innovation, and to create material wealth. The American right needs to embrace "compassionate conservatism," to acknowledge that "having dominion over nature" means to preserve it, rather than to destroy it, and to recognize that current levels of energy consumption and waste disposal are unsustainable.
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Old 05-01-02, 09:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by martin
Velocipedio, just what do you mean by your comment stating that "the US government has been captured by the lunatic fringe."?
Nothing, since what I wrote was: some would argue that the US government has been "captured by the lunatic fringe."

The point is that there are a lot of people out there who think that the current presidential administration of the US is dominated by fundamentalist, far-right, loonie-conservatives. I'm sure you're aware that not everyone in the US, and certainly not everyone in the world, is a big admirer of your president. There are at least two "lunatic fringes," one on the right and one on the left.
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Old 05-01-02, 09:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by John E
The American political left needs to acknowledge capitalism's unmatched ability to motive individuals, to spur technological innovation, and to create material wealth. The American right needs to embrace "compassionate conservatism," to acknowledge that "having dominion over nature" means to preserve it, rather than to destroy it, and to recognize that current levels of energy consumption and waste disposal are unsustainable.
The left and the right in the US are so very close together that it's hard to see where one ends and the other begins. The distinction really comes down to Whigs and Democrats.

There is no organized socialist or social democratic left in the United States, so there is no medium for the expression of a coherent critique of capitalism. That's why the left, which is the activist left and not the political left [which is the democratic party and essential centre-right] in the US is consistently incoherent.

That, incidentally, is one of the many reasons why the right [which is the dominant force in US politics, as it has been since 1787] will never embrace "compassionate conservatism" or propose environmentally responsible policies. There's no opposition.
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Old 05-01-02, 09:31 AM   #8
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Some would also argue that we recently ended 8 years of the "lunatic fringe" under the previous presidential administration. Opposite side of the spectrum of course.
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Old 05-01-02, 09:51 AM   #9
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I shall refrain from commenting on either the US or UK Government in order to avoid the use of offensive language

Thanks for the links Martin - It's interesting seeing Mussolini's view of Fascism, if you accept his definition, then there is certainly no way you could describe CM as Fascists, Fascism cannot be separated from state control.

The Grolier definition of anarchy at least makes clear it that "terrorism was never an integral part of anarchist theory or practice". It's a fascinating philosophical view-point, and most people who read about it any depth can see its attraction (but sadly arguably its core problem of human selfishness).

Bringing this back to cycling, I agree with John that the only way you're going to improve the lot of cyclists is to work within the system. It's not that I disagree with many of CM's aims, I just question the effectiveness of their methods, particularly in attending an event where there have been warnings of action beyond peaceful protest.

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Old 05-01-02, 10:01 AM   #10
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I think to describe Bill Clinton, someone who could have been mistaken for a "Rockefeller Republican" in the days of my youth, as "lunatic fringe . . . [at the] opposite side of the spectrum" does demonstrate just how far to the right the "center" is in US politics.
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Old 05-01-02, 10:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by martin
Some would also argue that we recently ended 8 years of the "lunatic fringe" under the previous presidential administration. Opposite side of the spectrum of course.
As Velocipedio points out neither major political party in the US can really be described as socialist or left wing, and the situation is pretty much the same in the UK - I don't think anybody could describe your previous administration as the opposite end of the spectrum from your current administration, unless they had a very narrow view of world politics.
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Old 05-01-02, 10:46 AM   #12
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Originally posted by martin
Some would also argue that we recently ended 8 years of the "lunatic fringe" under the previous presidential administration. Opposite side of the spectrum of course.
Exactly!

Richard D: It's not offesnive, I think, to point out that there are a number of different political perspectives and that terms like "lunatic fringe" are generally vacuous. "Lunacy" should be used to describe tactics and strategies, not ideas.

And I think the CM tactics -- they don't seem to have much strategy -- verge on lunacy. A minority doesn't change the perceptions of a majority by cheesing them off. The problem with CM is evidence by their lack of widespread support within the cycling community, not to mention in the general, non-cycling population. Whether you work within the system or not -- and I do believe that real change can happen outside the system -- you have to make sure that your aims and means are not mismatched.

As for anarchism... well... I've read most of the anarchsit classics, from Bakunin and Kropotkin, to the Situationists and the Wobblies. It is an attractive political philosophy and it has had, in isolated places and times, some success. I'm not willing to toss it out completely and chalk it up to the evils of human nature [I'm one of those people who doesn't actually believe in human nature, actually]. On the other hand, the big problem with anarchism [the political philosophy is an ism, the state of having no authority is anarchy] is that it is very difficult to implement practically.

I'm reminded of an exchange between Marx and Bakunin at the First International... Bakunin is ranting on about how the workingmen of the world must commit their energies to a non-authoritarian revolution. Marx replied... "Revolution is about imposing the will of the people on their rulers... can you think of anything more authoritarian?"
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Old 05-01-02, 11:15 AM   #13
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Richard D,
When I stated "opposite end of the spectrum" I was not commenting on world politics. I was commenting on the differences between the previous administration's policies regarding civil liberties for US citizens versus the current administration policies towards its citizens. There is a vast difference in that regard.

The previous administration went on record in print stating that US citizens had far too many freedoms(USAToday newspaper interview). Actions against the US citizenry regarding wiretaps, encryption, and abuse of executive authority that undermined US citizens' civil liberties were common with Clinton. Paul Begala, a Clinton aide, said it best regarding Clinton's use of executive authority "Stroke of the pen, law of the land...kinda cool". That was on US television's Sunday morning news show "Meet The Press".

I haven't witnessed that kind of blatant disregard for US citizens rights by the current administration yet. Notice, I said citizens, not visiting foreign nationals.

As a member of the Libertarian Party in the US I find the viewpoints of the two "major" political parties rather distasteful. So, you will not find me being a cheerleader for either side!

I do feel that CM needs to find an alternative methodology to achieve their goals. They could definitely study some of the successful US lobbying organizations - or any successful international lobbying organization - to pick up some techniques. Use of bombs and violence typically result in the use of force by government jack booted thugs. Definitely not a pleasant way to spend a day - at least for me anyway.
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Old 05-01-02, 12:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by martin
Richard D,
When I stated "opposite end of the spectrum" I was not commenting on world politics. I was commenting on the differences between the previous administration's policies regarding civil liberties for US citizens versus the current administration policies towards its citizens. There is a vast difference in that regard.
Martin - sorry I didn't realise it was restricted to internal civil liberties. I also confess my knowledge of civil liberties within the US is not that deep. Over here I get the impression that neither of our major two parties are particularly good on civil liberties, but I'm sure there are members of the parties who do have concerns.
Quote:
Originally posted by velocipedo

Richard D: It's not offesnive, I think, to point out that there are a number of different political perspectives and that terms like "lunatic fringe" are generally vacuous. "Lunacy" should be
used to describe tactics and strategies, not ideas.
Not at all, I just wanted to avoid offensive language by not giving my views of some of their actions
Quote:
Originally posted by velocipedo

And I think the CM tactics -- they don't seem to have much strategy -- verge on lunacy. A minority doesn't change the perceptions of a majority by cheesing them off. The problem with CM is evidence by their lack of widespread support within the cycling community, not to mention in the general, non-cycling population. Whether you work within the system or not -- and I do believe that real change can happen outside the system -- you have to make sure that your aims and means are not mismatched.
I agree that their means are unlikely to fulfil their aims. I think changes within the system (if you can avoid diluting your aims too much in order to make them palatable to the majority) are easier, but obviously changes outside the system do happen - French, American, Russian Revolutions are quite big examples

What do you see as the best way to improvecity cycling facilities?
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Old 05-01-02, 12:42 PM   #15
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Let's not let this fall apart into some sort of arguement over the preceived failings of the US political system. I'm pretty sure both sides have heard the other side's arguements, and this really isn't the place for them.

As far as the original post, I couldn't find the article about Critical Mass from the link that was given. However, I do understand the fear some cyclists feel about CM making it difficult for cycling to gain mainstream acceptance. But without reading the article, I don't know how much more I can say.

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Old 05-01-02, 12:49 PM   #16
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"With the copting of social democratic parties and the current moribund state of left-wing political organizations, they don't see any way to achieve their political goals through traditional political means... so they take to the streets"


Sorry to hear the left wing organizations are so moribund; perhaps it is because their ideas are bereft of creativity and relevance. "Let someone else pay"--which is the basis for socialism-- sure seems to be a pretty stale policy when ya give it a second look.

If they wanna take to the streets, thats just fine. If they wanna smash store windows, disrupt legitimate flow of traffic, and disrupt the ability of ordinary citizens to live their everyday lives, thats another matter.


And please stop all this 'right wing extremist' crap. An administration ripped into angst about how to prosecute soldiers trying to kill their civilians, doesn't sound very right wing to me.

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Old 05-01-02, 06:09 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Richard D
I don't want cycling to be seen as fringe behaviour, I want it to be part of mainstream culture.

Richard
I'm with you, bro!

That's the problem. Mainstream culture is not always right. In fact, it's too often easily influenced by financial powers.
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Old 05-01-02, 06:35 PM   #18
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Originally posted by John E
One purpose of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition's "same rights, same rules, same roads" slogan is to legitimize bicycling and to characterize it as a rational mainstream behaviour.
Right on.

John Eldon, your posts reflect the character of one who has had experience mediating.

Hat's off.
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Old 05-01-02, 06:42 PM   #19
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Please read my signature below.

Sometimes the status quo is less than desirable.

Was the US not founded by "anarchists"? I would say that in 1776, there would have been very few British who would have not considered the colonial US to be a "terrorist state".
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Old 05-01-02, 09:04 PM   #20
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Right! I remember the colonists strapped bombs to themselves and obliterated Londoners having beer in their pubs. I seem to remember that they threw some Tea into Boston Harbor--not molotov cocktails into crowded marketplaces.

I am sure life was not made pleasant (tar and feathering, to say the least) for crown sympathizers as the protests gathered steam, but I doubt the actions of the colonists can be placed on the same moral plane as some other secessionist movements. Nor were the British blameless. It was Lord Jeffrey Amherst, after all, who kindly and gently lended the Indians smallpox contaminated blankets so that they could stay warm that winter.

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Old 05-02-02, 02:26 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Roughstuff

Sorry to hear the left wing organizations are so moribund; perhaps it is because their ideas are bereft of creativity and relevance. "Let someone else pay"--which is the basis for socialism-- sure seems to be a pretty stale policy when ya give it a second look.

That's as naive an analysis of socialism as I've come across. It's a bit like describing the right's position as being "**** you, I'm alright".

Quote:
Originally posted by Roughstuff

And please stop all this 'right wing extremist' crap. An administration ripped into angst about how to prosecute soldiers trying to kill their civilians, doesn't sound very right wing to me.
I don't recall anyone in this thread describing the present US Administration as 'right wing extremist'. I don't think, you would find many people who would argue that their policy as a whole is not right of centre on the political philosophy stage though.
Quote:
Originally posted by Roughstuff


Right! I remember the colonists strapped bombs to themselves and obliterated Londoners having beer in their pubs. I seem to remember that they threw some Tea into Boston Harbor--not molotov cocktails into crowded marketplaces.
My knowledge of this period of history is not great, but I don't think you could present the revolution as bloodless. I'm also sure there were individuals who commited terrible actions on both sides, it seems to be the nature of most wars.
Quote:
Originally posted by ATurley


Let's not let this fall apart into some sort of arguement over the preceived failings of the US political system. I'm pretty sure both sides have heard the other side's arguements, and this really isn't the place for them.

As far as the original post, I couldn't find the article about Critical Mass from the link that was given. However, I do understand the fear some cyclists feel about CM making it difficult for cycling to gain mainstream acceptance. But without reading the article, I don't know how much more I can say.

andy

Sorry - My original post was not intended to provoke a political discussion, beyond whether CM getting leading a day of protests, that were expected to turn violent was a bad method of cycling advocacy (linking to individual news stories in Yahoo seems to be impossible). The thread does seem to have been hijacked a little, I shall refrain from commenting on any further political posts that aren't directly related to the cycling issue.

As it turned out most of the coverage I've read made it clear that the cycling protest was peaceful (thankfully as were most of the other protests).

Richard
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Old 05-02-02, 06:05 AM   #22
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Hi Richard D

You dont owe any apology. You made a good opening statement but alot of people love to get off on an uninformed tangent. Usually I have found that the most rabid statements about how screwed up we are in the USA is by people that dont live here.
You know the ole saying "if you aint the lead dog the scenery never changes"!

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Old 05-02-02, 07:00 AM   #23
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Okay everyone... I love a political discussion as much as anyone, and considering that the American Revolution is one of my research areas, I'd love nothing more than to discuss whether the colonial revolutionaries were or were perceived as terrorists by the British.

However, those discussions do not belong on this thread or in this forum. If you would like to pursue them, feel free to do so in the Lounge; I'd be happy to join you. Let's keep this thread focused on Critical Mass and whether its tactics and strategy are beneficial to the cause of cycling.

I don't actually like pulling the moderator thing, but I've seen threads degenerate into political name-calling before.
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Old 05-02-02, 08:05 AM   #24
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ok, so getting back to the real topic here...

what do people dislike about critical mass rides other than that they're linked by the media to crazy destructive acts? (yes, like most media things the destruction and bad stuff is WAY overexagerrated...) i'm not a huge supporter but i've been on CM rides in Portland OR and Austin TX and have always wanted to make a San Francisco ride but my timing has never worked out.

i've seen the documentary film, "We're not blocking traffic - We are traffic!" and found it very interesting...

yes, the group is loosly organized and it does allow for some freaks and teenagers to show up and just take out aggressive and cause havock...

but the majority of the people seem to be exactly for the kind of stuff i am... increasing bicycle usage and decreasing car usage in cities, making auto driver's liable for killing pedestrians and cyclists and generally making communities safer and more pleasant without big, heavy, polluting automobiles that make it "unsafe" for people or kids to walk or bike...

and most are trying to demonstrate in a safe, legal non-aggressive manner that is not only legal, but should be a basic part of democracy in the US - 'right of public assembly' from the consititution...

and what surprised my most was the diversity of the CM crowd - to me when i think of cyclists, i think of those i know - racers (both MTB and road) and professional commuters with Ortlieb waterproof bags like myself and then your typical bike-shop supporter (i.e. spends money and has a nice $$$ bike) - and while there was some representation here from all of these groups, there were also young people, old people, families with kids, and cyclists on junk bicycles that the 'cycling community' doesn't count b/c they don't buy anything...

last time i rode about 2 years ago i printed up a bunch of signs like 'One less car' or 'cars kill... ride a bike' or 'bikes are green' and handed them out for people to pin on their shirts or backpacks and after i ran out of the 50 or so i had people kept asking for them... i figured it was a good idea to make it a little more clear to motorists WHY we were demonstrating...

and then CM rides are often harassed by local police... this was documented in the film in Austin and San Francisco and i witnessed personally a policeman who ran his bumber into the rear tire of a girl on a bicycle going about 15mph on a legal street doing nothing wrong and caused her to crash and then arrested her... it was one of the most blatanlty aggressive dangerous things i've ever seen and by a police offcer (aside: i generally support law enforcement and find most very helpful, but this was outrageous - and she was released a few hours later b/c there was no charge) --- from what i can tell the police were under mandate from local officials to 'shut CM down' b/c it's 'causing trouble'...

so what would make CM better or more 'acceptable' to the cycling community? or more effective in general?
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Old 05-02-02, 08:39 AM   #25
John E
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Originally posted by nathank
i've seen the documentary film, "We're not blocking traffic - We are traffic!" and found it very interesting...

so what would make CM better or more 'acceptable' to the cycling community? or more effective in general?
Particularly in California, where the political system, including "CarTrance" (CalTrans, the California Department of Transportation, whose new director accepted an invitation to cycle in traffic with the chairman of the California Bicycle Coalition), now actually responds constructively to bicycle and pedestrian interests, blatantly obstructionist CM rides are highly counterproductive.

However, I strongly support a different sort of CM -- a dramatic increase in the number of lawful vehicular cyclists, riding in a cautiously, courteously assertive fashion, taking the lane when and only when necessary for their own safety, joining and working with local and national cycling advocacy groups, and emailing or phoning their elected officials, law enforcement, and/or traffic engineering whenever they encounter problems or unreasonable barriers to their safe, efficient use of the public road system. The Australian "bike bus" concept might be emulated to encourage new commuters.

I just received a very encouraging email from the CBC director -- a new bill before the California legislature would add $5 to the driver's license renewal fee for any motorist with two or more points (as in many other jurrisdictions, points are awarded for each moving violation or fault in a collision; low score wins!). The money would be used to finance bicycle and pedestrian facilities, such as road shoulders, sidewalks, and changes to auto-centric intersections. Another bill will require that all new or refurbished traffic signal loop detectors respond to bicycles.

-- John E -- a "pointless" motorist since 1971
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Last edited by John E; 05-02-02 at 08:49 AM.
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