Before he gained worldwide notoriety as the mayor allegedly caught on tape smoking crack, Toronto’s Rob Ford was perhaps best known as the mayor who said, “Bicyclists are a pain in the ass!”
Perhaps no public official will ever top that combination of brevity and mindless hostility toward non-automotive transportation. But there’s a lot of competition out there.
Recently, we asked our Twitter followers to share quotes from state and local transportation officials that reveal an underlying contempt for walking, biking, and transit. Below are three examples that readers sent to us. Each comes from an official agency spokesperson, so you can only imagine what gets said behind closed doors. If you’d like to add to this initial collection of Motor Mouths — and we hope you do — send your example of car-centricity to email@example.com or tell us about it in the comments.
Without further ado, our first round of Motor Mouths.
St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic
Exhibit A: “As a matter of policy, we don’t build dedicated bike lanes. St. Louis County salutes the bike-riding community, but we manage our system in the knowledge that motor vehicles comprise the vast majority of our customer base.”
Exhibit B: “We’re a highway department, not a bicycle department.”
A: We’d prefer to stay in the downward spiral of autocentric development resulting in car dependence and endless sprawl until we’re bankrupt.
B: The “transportation” part of our name is just for show, we really only care about highways.
Maryland State Highway Administration:
The Offender: Agency spokesman David Buck in the Capital Gazette.
“The safest way to get across the road is to cross at marked crosswalks,” said Buck, who estimated that 90 percent of pedestrian-related accidents are caused by pedestrian error.
If pedestrians would just quit getting in the way of cars, they wouldn’t get hit.
Baltimore Metropolitan Council:
The Offender: Larry Klimovitz, executive director of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, on the blog Pedestrian Error.
“For transportation, the federal government requires us to coordinate as a region to make decisions. For all this other stuff we do, it’s voluntary. So, for example, water quality, housing, bike/ped …”
Biking and walking are not transportation.
So there you have it, our first three contenders.
We’re looking for more Motor Mouths. Give us your examples in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include a link to a news report or other official record of the statement. Also, if you caught a local or state transportation official saying something totally brilliant on the record, we’d like to know about that too.