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Bike League, Americans, respond to Boehner’s “trash talk”

Posted by on January 13th, 2009 at 10:04 am

“American’s have repeatedly said that they value more livable communities, transit, bicycling and walking improvements ahead of new highway capacity.”
–The League of American Bicyclists

The League of American Bicyclists has published a lengthy response to comments made on Sunday by Ohio congressional representative and House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner.

Boehner’s comments have also sparked a lot of response by bike-riding Americans.

On a Sunday morning talk show, Boehner criticized spending on “bike paths” in Obama’s economic stimulus bill as something “Americans are not going to look very kindly on”. He also referred to “widening highways” as being beneficial “for American families”. (Watch the video and read analysis and reader comments here.)

Back in September, the League launched a special section on their website, “Trash Talk” devoted to brushing back these sort of political slams.

In the “What are the facts” section of the response the League writes:

American’s have repeatedly said that they value more livable communities, transit, bicycling and walking improvements ahead of new highway capacity. They also favor fixing our existing infrastructure before adding more to it.

They then share links to several reports that detail Americans support for active transportation investments (including one from the AARP).

The League than lays out what Boehner should have said:

Investment in our communities today should equip us for a sustainable, healthy, and economically viable future where walking, bicycling and transit are viable and attractive ways of getting around our communities. Stimulus funding should be focused on fixing existing infrastructure and building choice back into the transportation system by improving conditions for bicycling, walking.

“Here is one more mom with a big ass who wants more bike paths!”
— A posting from a Facebook group formed in response to Boehner’s comments

The League aren’t the only ones who have responded. One reader has started a Facebook group called, “I bet I can find 1 million families who want big beautiful bike paths.” The group has garnered 40 members overnight. One of them posted this comment: “Well, here is one more mom with a big ass who wants more bike paths!”

Video of the interview is now up on the Rep. Boehner’s official YouTube channel. One reader suggests leaving feedback over there (and I noticed someone has already done so).

Read the League’s full response here. It’s a good example of how to respond with integrity and facts. I only wish the League would have addressed the family issue more directly. Unfortunately they don’t mention families at all in their response.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Bradly Fletchall January 13, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Rand at KansasCyclist posted about Boehners comments yesterday here:

    Rails-To-Trails also has a petition going. The link to the petition is on that post I linked to as well.

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  • Paul Tay January 13, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Oh, groan. Here we go again with the bike paths vs. vehicular cycling fistfights. Can we all just give it a BIG rest?

    The problem with bike paths, as they are envisioned by the vast majority of the public, is they are designed by traffic engineers who have NO training in bike traffic.

    That mom with the fat ass should just get off her fat ass, quit waiting for someone to coddle her fat ass, and JUST ROLL her fat ass on a bike.

    As soon as motorists sees her FAT ugly ass on the road, they’ll simply slow down, make the lane change, and pass. Problem SOLVED.

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  • beelnite January 13, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Um… Paul – I think you kinda missed the point. Nobody is waiting, just thrilled to see some investment in improving and providing more freedom of choice when it comes to transportation. I say we leave the debate on the usefulness of bike lanes and bike paths, etc. alone for now.

    We can hit that up when there’s a project in the works – that’s when we need to really get off our fat asses… and go sit on them in the meetings until it’s time to get off them and give input.

    Just saying – but I hear you bro – I feel what you are saying!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 13, 2009 at 11:16 am


    Good thing I know you and know that you’re a nice guy.

    Martina, if you’re reading this, don’t take his comments the wrong way. He means well.


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  • Davidr January 13, 2009 at 11:18 am

    I can think of no better place to spend time with my family than on an 8 lane highway.

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  • Paul Dorn January 13, 2009 at 11:51 am

    When Boehner says “bike paths”, he intends it as shorthand for “non-automotive.” This isn’t a vehicular cycling/bike path issue. Boehner’s tossing the gauntlet for more highways, period. That’s short sighted.

    What really frosts my goat is what does he have against “beautification”? The GOP platform is unrelenting ugly?!? Highways will accomplish that, for sure.

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  • c January 13, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Paul Tay:

    “That mom with the fat ass should just get off her fat ass, quit waiting for someone to coddle her fat ass, and JUST ROLL her fat ass on a bike.”

    Wow, thats a very self-affirming statement. Sounds like the high horses are rolling in.

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  • Zaphod January 13, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    This guy is only marginalizing himself. Sure we need to call him out on it (and aggressively too) but he’s on the wrong side of the issue and he is putting his seat at risk with his view.

    Fix what we have.
    Transition some to bike friendly/bike only lanes and links and watch automobile traffic actually drop.

    This works. I saw a compelling presentation from Gordon Price on this topic. He doesn’t have it online but the net of it is that subtracting lanes can reduce traffic.

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  • Steven J January 13, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    What A tool.
    Boehners attitude represents the narrow minded thinking of a lot of Americans have.
    Tell me Boehner, If Americans can’t afford to build a car, and drive it, why widen a road?.
    Take a page from Castro’s Playbook, & learn a bit from history.
    least we have some warnings.

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  • Matt Picio January 13, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    amplifying Steven J (#9) – and examples. Cuba has done wonders for agriculture and transportation in the wake of their oil cutoff after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And the former Soviet Republics themselves provide a valuable example of how to survive economic collapse – see Dmitry Orlov’s book “Reinventing Collapse” for details.

    Who would’ve thought 20 years ago that Cuba would be a shining example of sustainability?

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  • Andrew H January 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I posted a comment on the web site of the Dayton, OH Daily News… maybe some local attention will prompt feedback from Boehner’s constituents.

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  • Paul Tay January 13, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Beelnite, my point is this: I rather keep what I got now in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1,500 miles of bike lanes and routes, all within City limits, instead of trading it all for so-called “bike paths,” wrongly designed by engineers who are NOT, have NEVER been, skooled in the unique in-n-outs of bike traffic. Who wants to be ghetto’d to crap facilities that KILL?

    Martina, you probably didn’t give your ass enough credit. Just ROLL, baby! And, make the cagers succumb to your fat ass!

    Three EASY Steps on How to Roll America’s Bike Paths, WITHOUT Really Dying:

    1) Make ’em see ya.

    2) Make ’em SHARE da road.

    3) Quit trollin’ da GUTTER.

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  • Coyote January 13, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    No Ohio city is listed as bike friendly by the League of American Cyclists. It is easy to dismiss Boehner as some yahoo congressman trying to grab headlines by being contrary, but Boehner has been in congress for close twenty years, he is the minority leader of the house, and won re-election by over 60%. Maybe he is just representing his constituents?

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  • Hart January 13, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    “The GOP platform is unrelenting ugly?!?”

    Nail on the head there. Nail on the head.

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  • Paul Tay January 13, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Coyote, I actually have no beef with Mr. B. No matter what Congress does to blow another $350 BILLION for bailouts, I got 50 clams with my fave Vegas bookie the auto industry will each itself ALIVE.

    It’s an unsustainable business model. The industry is nothing more than a huge financial institution that just happens to make cars. But, what happens when your customers can’t qualify for loans to buy your products that depreciate BEFORE it leaves the lot, AND costs as much a small lot in any given American city?

    Why would we want skinny, 6-8 feet wide, crappy bike “paths,” when we can have 150 feet WIDE, six laned controlled access roadways?

    How do we get it? Simply TAKE it. You’ve already paid for it.

    Martina, I apologize for referring to your fat ass as ugly. I’ve never seen your ass. However, if you accost me at this year’s WNBR, I’ll certainly take my time, on my hands and knees, like a pathetically tragic puppy, to rate your ass as close to TEN as honestly as I can.

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  • Joe January 13, 2009 at 6:55 pm


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  • Jebus January 13, 2009 at 11:00 pm


    Anyways, glad to see I can put my bike on my Subaru and go sit in traffic for a couple hours since more lanes means more people driving…

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  • jim January 14, 2009 at 12:17 am

    “Who would’ve thought 20 years ago that Cuba would be a shining example of sustainability”

    Go in a store in Cuba and see the empty shelves where food should be but isn’t. people Hate it there. thats why they make rafts and come here. Don’t let this country become like Cuba.

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  • Hart January 14, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Cuba has no food on it’s shelves because they’ve been suffering under a US embargo for forty years, Mr. History.

    And to Mr. Subaru, more lanes means more strip mining, mountain top removal, and slurry washes dumped into rivers.

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  • Anonymous January 14, 2009 at 6:52 am

    A 40 year embargo, yet Cuba can run a south shore resort on par with Cancun, lacking nothing in the area of food for the tourists who arrive from Canada and Europe, earning Cuba hard currency, all the while oppressing their own citizens.

    Let’s not hold up Cuba as a shining example of anything.

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  • Carl January 14, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Why must you steal the spotlight? BOEHNER is supposed to be the bad guy, here, not you. I know you’re a nice (if a bit crazy) guy, having met you, but your online persona here is straight-up insulting and creepy. I’m surprised that Jonathan has allowed such hateful and disturbing comments about a living breathing pillar of Portland’s bike community to remain on his website.

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  • Mr History January 14, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    maybe Cuba has no food on its shelves because it has a crooked govt. Have you ever talked to anyone from cuba? You go to jail longer for killing a dog than a person there. nice shining example of hell, not sustainability?

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  • Paul Tay January 15, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Carl, I apologize if you feel offended. That was NOT my intention.

    My point is BE CAREFUL WHATCHA WISH FER. Someone on here pointed out this Bohner dude has been in Congress for over 20 years.

    He must be doing something fer his peeps. Politically, bike path funding is ridiculous proposition for most of the country, including Oklahoma. For that I am actually very grateful, because throwing big cash at wild-n-crazy, clueless highway engineers to design and build bike “paths,” ghetoo-izing bikes, is even crazier.

    We may not have 6% bike drivership like PDX, but, it is very safe in Tulsa, because cyclists have been “persuaded” to be Super Defense Drivers.

    We got six-laned, 150 feet wide, controlled access bike “paths,” already. All ya gotta do is take it, use it, abuse it, even.

    Yes, if anyone wants to give the Defensive Driver of the Year award, it would go to a cyclist.

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  • Pete September 25, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Fast forward to 2015… and Boehner resigns (at the Pope’s request?) from the most useless Congress in history, possibly preventing the annual budget crisis popularly known as raising the debt ceiling before session breaks.

    I hear LAB is buying rounds down the street…

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