In case you thought hysterical elected leaders were confined to big cities, and the federal government, the Village President of Black Earth, Wisconsin gives us proof that short-sighted, hysterical alarmists are in our small towns, too.
The e-mail below was sent by Jeanne Poast, Black Earth Village President, to Wisconsin's Governor, Senator Russ Feingold, county, city, town, and village leaders in Dane County, and state legislators. Subject: Bicycling on the west end of Dane CountyHello to the Governor, County Exec. Kathleen Falk, Senator Erpenbach, Senator Feingold, Rep. Travis, Rep. Baldwin, and Dane County Supervisors -Wendt and Hitzemann!We have been having a real problem with groups of bike racer (groups) over taking our area and the roads! Leaders from the Townships of Berry, Mazo, Vermont, Black Earth, Cross Plains and the village of Black Earth have expressed concerns to the Dane County Sheriff's office. But we need more help then they can give us. Laws need to be changed or understood better. Seems the biker has alot more rights then the people who are paying forinsurance, license plates and the roads we drive on!Next Monday night there is a meeting at the Vermont Town Hall and I have been asked to go and I really want you to come to the meeting!These people are living through this all the time and they need your help! They need to be heard by someone who can make a difference!I have an idea... Charge them a fee! Why can't we put license plates on bikes. That way we can make them accountable for breaking the law! When they break the law then we can call the police and have a way to know who it is! So many of these groups of bikers come into our village and /or townships and take over the roads!This is where we live! How would they feel if we take over in their town or village? They have no regard the people that live here or their property. The state and county need money and this is a major problem. Charging them a GOOD healthy fee for a license plate would help with some of the sort fall in the county and statebudget!After all this is a hobby!Please come to the meeting on July 12 at 7:30 p.m.!Something needs to be done and it has to start some place!Jeanne PoastBlack Earth Village PresidentPopulation 13141210 Mills St., Black Earth, WI 53515Cell # 608-444-0190 or home office 767-2564www.villageofblackearth.comAllow me to address some of Ms. Poast's points. The idea that bicyclists use Wisconsin roads without paying for them is ludicrous. Most bicyclists are forced (by incredibly poor infrastructure and transportation planning) to own cars. Those cars have license plates and are filled with gasoline. In Wisconsin, a portion of the gasoline tax is specifically directed to be used for roads. So, to say that bicyclists use resources without paying for them is prima facie false.
Also, the city of Madison already requires me to purchase a license for each bike I own. If law enforcement stopped me on my bike for some reason, and if I didn't give my name (though doing so would contravene recent Supreme Court decisions and would lead to jail time for yours truly), law enforcement could just contact the city of Madison and find out who owns bike license "blah blah blah."Bicyclists do not, in fact, have more rights than automobile drivers under state law. In some cases, it may appear that we have less rights than automobile traffic. For instance, bicyclists are barred from traveling on certain roads (the Madison Beltline, for instance), while being forced to follow the same rules of the road as automobile traffic in all instances. If Black Earth feels like passing a law to keep bicyclists off its roads, it woul open the door to all kinds of goofy traffic regulation. For instance, I could agitate for a movement to keep SUV's, dump trucks, semis, vehicles carrying Black Earth politicians, and other vehicles I disdain off the street in front of my house. In addition, many of those who live in Black Earth, Mazomanie, and the like commute daily into the City of Madison for work. Do we complain about how the city's infrastructure bends every day to accomodate the travel needs of those who do not pay property taxes to the city? Do we write angry letters saying "Something needs to be done..." when the residents of those bedroom communities cause two-lane highways to become four-lane highways because they can only commute to work at reasonable speeds (instead of unreasonably fast speeds) on the two lane roads?
Maybe Ms. Poast ought to clean up her own messes before trying to fix a nonexistant problem. The bicycle races about which she writes bring hundreds of visitors to Black Earth and the surrounding area from all over the globe. Why on earth would those people ever visit Black Earth if it wasn't for rides like the Horribly Hilly Hundreds? Nobody travels from Germany to see the "public library, three church congregations, two daycares, a preschool, the largest independently owned shoe store in the Midwest, and three elderly facilities."Hopefully, the public firestorm of criticism from bicyclists and bicycling advocates this ill-placed volley has created will cause Ms. Poast to re-evaluate her opinion on bicyclists. I'm sure that if Black Earth merchants don't want hundreds and hundreds of out-of-towners on quiet, non-polluting vehicles spending their money in Black Earth, thousands of other towns would gladly step forward to have us.