Wall Street Journal editorial-board member Dorothy Rabinowitz is the object of deserved mockery this week after arguing that New York City's new bike share program is evidence of an "autocratic" mayor with a "totalitarian" mindset who has "begrimed" the best neighborhoods in the city.
If only she weren't representative of a larger trend.
There is no one in America who objects more consistently than me to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's initiatives: This is a man who favors stop-and-frisk, racially profiling and spying on innocent Muslims, restricting the size of soda New Yorkers can buy, salt limits, a trans-fat ban, and a pervasive surveillance state. Left up to me, no one like Bloomberg would ever exercise political power. My disdain for his paternalism and disregard for civil liberties is what inclines me to defend his bike initiative. It is the least "totalitarian" major initiative that Bloomberg has undertaken, yet is denounced with some of the strongest language. If the critics were merely expressing their personal displeasure at the prospect of cities better suited to bike travel (or doubts about the efficacy of a particular policy aimed at making cities more bike friendly) that would be fine. Instead they co-opt the language of freedom and oppression, as if orienting cities toward automobiles is natural and libertarian, while bike shares and bike lanes are harbingers of tyranny.