8:30 PM EDT, May 9, 2013
As a political columnist, I can usually see both sides to divisive issues. Abortion. War. The death penalty. I get it.
But allow me to submit that this community is currently embroiled in one of the dumbest debates I've seen in quite some time. (And that's saying something.)
I'm talking about bike lanes.
Right now, we have a vocal few — including some in Central Florida's transportation-planning circles — arguing against bike lanes and encouraging cyclists to ride in the middle of traffic.
Perhaps these guys have been strapping on their helmets too tightly.
Or huffing their CO2 cartridges.
Whatever the reason, this is full-on nonsense.
I have a 12-year-old daughter who loves to ride her bike. And if you're going to tell me that she should ride in the middle of 45 mph traffic rather than in a designated lane, I'm going to suggest you take a long ride off a short pier.
Why not throw my 72-year-old mom in the middle of Fairbanks Avenue while we're at it?
Listen, I get that there are pitfalls and risks no matter where you ride — and that there are some serious cyclists who want to ride in the road to avoid car doors or whatever other reason. They're welcome to do so.
But this notion of asking everyone to do the same — and ignore the network of bike lanes this community spent years and millions to create — is both foolish and dangerous.
Personally, I don't like to ride directly in front of things that can flatten me.
Nor am I a fan of holding up traffic. (I've learned the motorists I hold up aren't fans of mine, either.)
And you know who agrees with me? Virtually every group in America that ranks cities on being "bicycle friendly." They tend to favor cities that provide bike lanes over ones that force families to ride in the middle of busy roads. Go figure.
This isn't about making cyclists "second-class citizens." It's about safety. And comfort. And something else biking was long before everyone started taking sides and causing stinks … fun.
The rub with Rufus
Speaking of uproars, I can't help but think the hubbub over Rufus, the 1-year-old beagle who bit the face of his owner's 4-year-old, missed the big picture.
I get that people were sympathetic to the family. No one wanted to see a cute puppy euthanized.
And frankly, Orange County allowed this molehill to grow into a mountain by not working out the dog's return before Thursday.
But let's put this in perspective.
More than 180,000 people signed the cyber-petition for this one dog, many claiming to be outraged by the prospect of killing an innocent animal.
Meanwhile, Orange County Animal Services killed more than 10,800 dogs, puppies, cats and kittens every year.
Did I miss those protests? And petitions? And TV reports?
You see, what we have here is social activism in the cyber age — people willing to join a cause as long as it doesn't take much more effort than a mouse click.
See a picture of a cute puppy. "Like" the Facebook page. Move on.
No major investment of time or money. No concern about the bigger issue.
I'd like to think that some of the many people who claim to be appalled about the killing of innocent animals will follow up with action.
Maybe they'll adopt an animal themselves. Maybe they'll start raising money for a no-kill shelter.
Or maybe they'll just wait for the next picture of a particularly cute dog to pop up on their newsfeed. Then, once again, they can click "Like" and move on.
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