July 7, 2015

The predictable, unavoidable reality that pro-bike programs primarily benefit men.

I've talked about this phenomenon before, mostly in the context of Madison, Wisconsin, where people mostly have a very strong love of bicycling and gender equity — or at least the idea of these things. But here's a NYT article about the bike-sharing program in New York City: "A Mission for Citi Bike: Recruiting More Female Cyclists":
[T]wo years in, Citi Bike’s inroads [into spreading the benefits of biking] have been decidedly uneven, with men far outnumbering women in using the bike-sharing system. A little time on Eighth Avenue on a recent morning, watching the stream of Citi Bike riders heading north past Pennsylvania Station and toward Times Square, was instructive. Man after man pedaled by, some in suits, others in jeans. From time to time, a woman on a Citi Bike rode by.
One reaction might be: People do what they like. Leave them alone. Not every program needs to benefit the sexes equally, and it's okay to do something for the men sometimes. Or if you like your ideas in woman-favoring form: It's good to promote male fitness, because women benefit from fit males. And biking by men is good for the environment, so women get the benefit without subjecting ourselves to the physical dangers of biking in streets full of cars and trucks.

But Citi Bike believes the gender imbalance is a problem. As a problem, it needs a solution, and the idea now is to get more women to use the Citi Bike system.
“Women are early indicators of a successful bike system,” said Sarah M. Kaufman, the assistant director for technology programming at the Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University and an author of a new report on Citi Bike. “If you have more women riders, that means it’s convenient and safe.”
That's a funny quote, because it's not about the ideal of gender equity as an end. It's about the use of women as a means — a way to send a message that the bikes are good.

Anyway, let's assume you do want to lure more women into this dangerous, sweat-inducing activity: What do you do?
To woo women, Citi Bike is hosting rides with women’s cycling groups and trying to make cycling seem stylish.
It's not a way to get somewhere. It's a way to look cute (for a few minutes, while you sweat up those clothes you were hoping to look good in for the rest of the day).
The bikes appeared in the windows of Bloomingdale’s and in an episode of Comedy Central’s slacker millennial show “Broad City.” The company recently posted a photo on Twitter of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the model Kelly Rohrbach kissing on Citi Bikes, and Vogue’s website praised the model Karlie Kloss’s “practical chic” outfit while riding....

As for wardrobe and hygiene considerations... “My only tip would be to own it,” [avid Citi Bike rider, Gemma] Juan said of the sweaty summer look.
Own it. Ha ha. I love that. That's the ultimate style tip, isn't it?

145 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

any program that does not have more women than men needs additional remedial support and some sort of government intervention...

Don't worry about the excess female nurses though, that is proof that it is an under resourced and under paid profession...

SGT Ted said...

This is the usual feminist sexist crap that privileges women and demeans men by asserting that if not enough women are involved in a voluntary activity, there is a problem to be solved.

MayBee said...

Here's how it benefits women:

More men riding bikes means fewer men manspreading on the bus.

The Cracker Emcee said...

I've said it before, in America middle-class white men still get what they want, be it bike paths, assault rifles, or gay marriage. And that's a good thing.

campy said...

MayBee wins the thread.

EDH said...

Yesterday it was vaginal orders and today it's sweaty bicycles seats.

As for wardrobe and hygiene considerations... “My only tip would be to own it,” [avid Citi Bike rider, Gemma] Juan said of the sweaty summer look. Own it. Ha ha. I love that. That's the ultimate style tip, isn't it?

"You smell amazing. What is that?"

"I think it's just sweat."

MayBee said...

Here's why I don't do the bike thing:

1- Biking requires different shoes than I would probably be wearing to work (if I had an office job)
2- Skirts on bikes
3- Helmet head
4- Sheer terror of riding a little bike next to buses, trucks, and drivers who are not looking out for me

damikesc said...

Seriously, fuck this nonsense.

Does every damned thing on Earth have to be "pro woman"?

Aren't schools and the work force enough? Hasn't basically killing off mens-only clubs enough? Isn't giving men the worst parts of the house for themselves enough?

The world doesn't have to cater to women specifically and I, for one, am beyond sick and tired of reading about how rough women have it.

When men kill themselves successfully about 4 times as often, the "problems" women face seem more than a bit middling.

Don't worry about the excess female nurses though, that is proof that it is an under resourced and under paid profession...

Or teachers. Because men will rape kids while women....oh, wait. Then again, women can commit statutory rape and the boy will STILL be liable for the child, so there's that.

Or college students. Women are a rather significant majority of all college campuses, with minorities women being dramatically more represented than minority males.

Or in HR departments. Can anybody name more than 2 men in their employer's HR departments? They are dramatically over-represented by women, who seem to hire only serial sexual harassers (based on headlines) so perhaps they need to be less represented.

More men riding bikes means fewer men manspreading on the bus.

What I don't get is that Progressives want more people to take public transportation but wish to make men physically uncomfortable in taking it.

Phil 3:14 said...

The women are waiting for the fish to go first.

knk6146 said...

As a person who rode a bike to work today, the key phrase is "own it". As in own your own damn bicycle. Learn to take care of it, and it will take care of you. Depending on somebody else to do everything else for you is exactly to opposite of the independence that cycling should provide.

I find people of Citi bikes to be a nuisance. They've observed loads of bad cyclist behavior and have decided they must imitate it. Watching a Citi biker blow through the red light I'm waiting at, only to have me catch up to them and pass them a half a block later gets old, quick. Keep in mind I'm old, fat, and slow, and I'm catching and passing you. You are not in a hurry.

As for sweat, here's a novel idea--wear bike clothes to bike in, and work clothes to work in. Keep a towel at work. I do the same thing when I have to ride the subway on a stinking hot summer day. Wear shorts (gasp) and a t-shirt on the subway, change at work.

Tens of thousands, perhaps more, manage to do it every day in NYC. Figure it out, people.

Mike said...

For a certain kind of person non-conformity is a problem. For that same type of person, unequal outcomes are a problem. When disparate results primarily favor (statistically speaking) white men then that certain kind of person starts hyperventilating. These type of people probably should have been born in China or Sweden or Japan or any other monocultural societies where conformity is of the highest value and entire norms are built around concepts like hantelagan.

Unfortunately they were born here and their delicate sensibilities just can't see unequal outcomes without thinking, "Problem." My easy fix is this: If you are a SJW type then DON'T GO INTO BUSINESS WHERE YOU DEAL WITH THE PUBLIC.

Laslo Spatula said...

It is all part of a secret Government program to access privileged information about your taint.

They have special bicycle-seat analysts, the Government does.

I am Laslo.

CatherineM said...

Being in a car on 8th avenue during rush hour is dangerous. I don't recommend men biking it either. Being with sweaty dirty men (the city is dirty!) in the office is gross too. Honestly, the only women I have seen attempt this (a resolution to bike in rather than subway) already had some hygiene issues.

virgil xenophon said...

Ve haf ways of making you enjoy biking..

Roughcoat said...

Solution: electric bikes. Wonderful.

Bobber Fleck said...

We did forced school busing. We did the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act. Why can't we simply force women to ride bikes?

Are other minorities appropriately represented in the ridership? Are the bikes wheelchair accessible? Are there bikes with lots of chrome and spinner wheels? Are there bikes with braille detents on the shifters? Are there bikes with appropriate seats and electric motors for users of size?

The more I look at bike programs the more it appears they encourage white male privilege.

Bob Boyd said...

There's just no end to the problems in the rat lab.

CJinPA said...

Exhausting. Identity politics is exhausting. It's why its proponents always seem to be panting as they express themselves, even in writing.

Nothing is allowed to proceed at the individual level, without government or a government advocacy group directing it. Nothing. Bottom-up cultural development -- millions of free people making millions of freely formed, subconscious decisions which gel organically into a cultural norm - are verboten.

We are constantly being shoved into various cattle shoots by social engineers who only get paid if they can round up the next cultural norm that needs re-engineering.

Wonder if there will ever be a backlash and what it will look like? (Am I making too much of an effort to get more women to do what they have not freely chosen to do? Perhaps, but I doubt it. Like the hyper practitioners of identity politics, I'm tired.)

virgil xenophon said...

Seriously, sportsfans, what are the odds that AT THIS VERY MOMENT some GS-13 in the basement of HHS is drafting an amendment to Obamacare mandating the purchase of a bicycle by all Americans, along with a requirement to submit a daily log of mileage transmitted over the internet all in the name of health maintenance and the saving of health-care dollars? (subsidizes for all those below poverty-level, natch)

rhhardin said...

The sit-bones on women are wider apart than on men.

Widen the seats until men stop using them.

tim in vermont said...

Maybe they should go to Montreal and see how they do it. IDK, but there are so many French Canadian bicyclist around here this time of year, and a significant percentage of them are women. They seem to be largely an older demographic, early retirement, perhaps, but they all look pretty good.

The world could do with more fit older women. They will have an easier time dealing with the increasing gender disparity as the men inevitably die off, and the programs, as has been noted, will keep more men around longer, making their golden years a little more pleasant.

Seems like a double win for women. I remember reading a story one time about how the women of some central Asian village were suffering so because rebels had come to the town and killed all the men and boys by machine gunning them into a mass grave. Oh the suffering of the women! Well maybe lack of fitness in men is similar to those rebels with machine guns, and maybe women should allow men this little perk?

Funny how this is a classic case decide what you believe, then find reasons. We can all be Supreme Court "Justices."

tim in vermont said...

mandating the purchase of a bicycle by all Americans, along with a requirement to submit a daily log of mileage transmitted over the internet

You mean like in 1984, where the telscreen would monitor that you exercised? 1984 was a how to, not a warning. We just didn't understand that when we were taught the novel in an anti-communist false consciousness.

Freeman Hunt said...

Stop trying to make us like things! There is no end to the begging women to like things men like so that neurotic people can feel better about men liking them. "Play more sports!" "Go into STEM careers!" "Ride Citibikes!" Some of us like those things and some don't. Leave us alone!

CJinPA said...

virgil Xenophon -

I notice you are driving to verk today, do you not see za bike lane? Vee are strongly encouraging vemen like you to utilize za bi-cycles. Perhaps you do not hear za messages? Are you not dedicated to seizing za bike lanes from das men? Perhaps you come and vee vatch ed-u-cational video to help you understand, ya?

Mike said...

Hey instead of that 150-year-old technology, the bicycle, why don't we come up with a modern transportation solution for these city dwellers, one that both men and women would feel equally at home in using daily?

First it should be an all-weather solution since most cities have (I live in Palm Springs so I'm not sure but I think there are) seasons, in which things like precipitation and wind and sun can make biking uncomfortable. So first, it needs to be enclosed and to accommodate the healthy and infirm alike, it should have both seats and open areas to stand or park a wheelchair.

Second, maybe a transportation method that is easily accessible and flexible. Can both be achieved? Yes, we can make it accessible by building regular schedules around congregation points where people -- let's call them passengers -- can board and disembark from the seating units.

Third, these individual seating units can be expanded or reduced to match the number of available seats to the number of passengers to be serviced. So a system of detachable units that can be strung together in short or long assemblies for the purpose of providing safe, affordable transportation around big crowded cities.

Finally, if schedules were published for all to see, and this utopian transportation system were autonomous and powered by electricity then everything would be fair and sustainable. No passenger would be treated differently because of their skin color or sex or age or level of physical ability. You either get on the device or not. Your choice. Hell we could even pass a law forbidding the government or operators of such a system to even measure who rides or not so we would have no ugly statistics to divert our attention from the beauty of Modern Transportation.

Problem solved and you wouldn't have to wear a helmet!

tim in vermont said...

Exhausting. Identity politics is exhausting. It's why its proponents always seem to be panting as they express themselves, even in writing.

We had a joke about people who spoke up in meetings, but with nothing on point to say: "Just trying to add value."

Ron Winkleheimer said...

It is self-evident that biking in city traffic is more dangerous than driving or using traditional public transportation. It is more dangerous than walking, providing you stay on the sidewalks and don't run into traffic. You are surrounded by machines that way a couple of tons and are moving at 20-30 miles an hour without any of the armor a car provides.

Biking in a city is a risky behavior.

Women in general are less likely to engage in risky behavior than men.

I would be interested in hearing about the age of the people who are riding those bikes.

Rob said...

Obviously they need more girl's bikes--pink, without a horizontal frame bar, and maybe with streamers in the handlebars.

knk6146 said...

"Being in a car on 8th avenue during rush hour is dangerous. I don't recommend men biking it either."

Then don't bike on it for more than a block. Or get of your bike and walk it the last half block. There is a grid system of streets. There are other Avenues. There is more than one route to your destination.

Sure, I could take Flatbush Ave during rush hour, but I don't, because other streets make more sense, even though Flatbush would make the route slightly shorter. It ain't rocket science.

Argue for your limitations, and they are yours.

hoyden said...

Liberals are never happy unless the are complaining or stuffing their latest law down our throats.

CJinPA said...

Leave us alone!

We're here to help you understand what you want.

We'll inform you. We'll encourage you. We'll correct you. But we'll never, never leave you alone.

Bob Boyd said...

We need self-riding bicycles.

tim in vermont said...

We're here to help you understand what you want.

Perfect!

CJinPA said...

Liberals are never happy unless the are complaining or stuffing their latest law down our throats.

“Liberals” now meet H.L. Mencken’s definition of Puritanism: The haunting feeling that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

Ann Althouse said...

"As for sweat, here's a novel idea--wear bike clothes to bike in, and work clothes to work in. Keep a towel at work. I do the same thing when I have to ride the subway on a stinking hot summer day. Wear shorts (gasp) and a t-shirt on the subway, change at work."

How do you get from the door to the place where you can change? You have to be able and willing to be seen in your workout clothes on the way in. I can't picture doing that at the law firm I worked in in New York.

Also, you're going to carry a whole outfit to work? How? Roll it up and put it in a bag? And you have to carry a towel too? And just toweling off is supposed to be good enough cleaning and you put your good clothes on over that?

You talk like this is an obvious and easy way to deal with the problems.

virgil xenophon said...

"The end result of all 'progressive' politics is totalitarianism."

--------Eric Voegelin

MadisonMan said...

"Just trying to add value."

Emphasis added.

I haven't really noticed who rides those B-cycles here in Madison more, men or women. Maybe I'll pay attention now. Usually I see two people riding together, one man and one woman, with the woman trying to keep up.

Ann Althouse said...

I used to ride a bike to work in NYC back in the 1970. I rode about 70 blocks, mostly on Madison or 5th Avenue (depending on which direction I was going). I always had the thought in my head that I was risking my life. Maybe some people enjoy that feeling — you could die right now doing this — but usually that's with something less utilitarian than biking as a mode of city transportation.

Brando said...

If only women were using the bikes, we'd be treated to articles about how men weren't civic minded, and were driving instead, or using up sidewalks with "manwalking" or whatever the new outrage du jour is. Or maybe it's because men have all the money and are taking cabs. But we can be sure we would not be reading articles about how the service is skewed too much towards women's needs.

Can the SJWs just finally come out and say what they're really thinking--that men, particularly white men, should just be eradicated so they can all live in their little utopia? Because if that's what they really thought, their statements on issues of the day would be no different.

Laslo Spatula said...

Why do women need to bother with a bicycle when they already have the Sybian ?

I am Laslo.

Original Mike said...

"How do you get from the door to the place where you can change? "

Well, I got my belly laugh for the day. Thank you.

ken in tx said...

I have seen many men and women using the bike lanes in the Northwest Hills area of Austin TX. Elsewhere not so much. Small towns throughout the US lost a lot of on-street parking to fed mandated bike lanes that no one uses. In Western North Carolina, where we vacation, US 64 is supposed to have a bike lane from the mountains to the sea. I have yet to see anyone, male or female, use it.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

"I always had the thought in my head that I was risking my life."

That's because you are both intelligent and perceptive. In my younger days I relied on a motorcycle as my only means of transportation.

I look around now at young men going 70-80 miles an hour on the highway wearing a helmet and shorts and flip-flops and I think they are going to wish they had died if they hit the wrong patch of gravel or someone cuts them off while they are passing on the right.

rhhardin said...

Sweat isn't a problem, in my experience. Maybe a cool-down moment to evaporate it, but it doesn't smell if your clothes aren't yesterday's.

If you get really old and your oil glands dry up, it won't smell at all even left unbathed for days.

Senior bikes.

tim in vermont said...

You have to be able and willing to be seen in your workout clothes on the way in. I can't picture doing that at the law firm I worked in in New York.

Wear the wrong clothes and you will never get by Titus, no matter how otherwise qualified, talented, and hard working you are. Big city life is the best!

kfb said...

Blogger Rob said...

"Obviously they need more girl's bikes--pink, without a horizontal frame bar, and maybe with streamers in the handlebars."

Also, put baseball trading cards on the bikes so that the spokes could hit the cards and make a neat rattling sound. :-D

Chris said...

But Citi Bike believes the gender imbalance is a problem.

If this was a college program, the common solution would be to prevent men from participating, until the numbers are even.

kfb said...

Blogger Rob said...

"Obviously they need more girl's bikes--pink, without a horizontal frame bar, and maybe with streamers in the handlebars."

Also, put baseball trading cards on the bikes so that the spokes could hit the cards and make a neat rattling sound. :-D

Bob Boyd said...

Women are not the problem. Trying to get women to ride Citi Bikes more is sexist and misogynist. It's rapey. Once again our patriarchal society is trying to force something between women's legs.
Clearly, the focus needs be on getting men to ride the Citi Bikes less.

MarkW said...

In this case, I'd settle for men being the chief beneficiaries as a reason for killing the stupid things. We've got a system now in Ann Arbor. The startup costs (for the bikes, stations, transport van for re-deploying bikes, etc) worked out to over $10,000 per bike in the system. Absurd. But it was mostly paid for by grants, so it's all good (isn't other people's money wonderful). And now, virtually nobody rides the things. Why not? People who like to bike have their own bikes. There are plenty of racks, and bike theft around here is minimal (because they're cheap -- so cheap that every summer some students abandon bikes on the racks when they leave campus and they have to be cut off and thrown away). When you have your own bike, it goes right from your house, to wherever you're going, and back again. You don't have to walk to/from a station or make sure you get in checked in within the time limit. And downtown Ann Arbor is compact enough that grabbing one for a quick trip makes little sense (would you bother with it if you had half a mile max to walk)?

Peter said...

“If you have more women riders, that means it’s convenient and safe.”

As a general rule, seeing women walking by themselves is a good indicator that a neighborhood has a reasonably low incidence of street crime.

BUT what we really want to know: if Citi bike can't convince enough women to ride its bicycles, will it have to start denying them to men to achieve proportionality?

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Bicycles are unsuited for use as a means of transportation in an urban setting.

It's misogynist to try to deny this.

BDNYC said...

If the program disproportionately favored women, there would be nary a peep.

Henry said...

“Women are early indicators of a successful bike system,” said Sarah M. Kaufman

That's a circular metric.

I see a lot of women riders in my Boston-Cambridge commute (both very bike-friendly cities), but men are still the large majority.

I see somewhat more gender balance among runners than bikers, so maybe sweatiness isn't as much an issue as suggested. It is also fairly easy to ride at a leisurely pace and not sweat much, especially in the cooler early AM hours.

What the supporters of bike programs need to do is combine their public service messaging with the anti-manspreading marketeers. The more men riding bikes, the fewer men manspreading on the subways.

Seriously, the entire civic argument for bike sharing programs is that it lessens the burden on the rest of the infrastructure. This is especially true in terms of the roads and parking lots devoted to automobiles, but it is also true for the space available in buses and subways. It doesn't matter who takes advantage of the bike sharing program since the benefit is to all those who don't.

David said...

I will bet any amount of money that, within a year, the bikes will be pink.

Gabriel said...

In order to bike to work, you either need to work a bike shop, own office wear that you can shove into a backpack, or have a locker at work, or have a membership to a gym close to your office. Not to mention live within biking distance, which for most people is going to be just a few miles. I know there are people who can bike 30 miles a day, every day, but not many.

And you're not dropping off or picking up your kids with a bicycle.

It's a generalization, but most women like to put themselves together before they go out and are seen by anyone who doesn't live with them.

Putting these things together, it's overwhelmingly going to be men riding bikes to work.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

"If you have more women riders, that means it’s convenient and safe."

So indications are that it is neither convenient nor safe.

Christopher said...

I remember when I was growing up the girls would usually only ride their bikes in the neighborhood, and even then only for short periods. My friends and I, on the other hand, would bike ten or so miles from home without letting our parents know.

There was a wooded hill near our house with a very narrow road that had almost no shoulder on it, in order to head into town you had to go over it. We attempted to find a path through the woods a few times, but after flipping our bikes for the third or fourth time while trying to bike down a deer path we just decided to risk the road.



Anyway the answer to their problem is to make the bikes pink and sparkly, they might also want to add tassels to the handlebars.

Henry said...

And you're not dropping off or picking up your kids with a bicycle.

Taking my son to preschool in his iBert is one of my favorite memories.

Terry said...

People can be so disappointing to the government.
That's why sometimes, as a last resort, some of them have to be killed.

Jay Vogt said...

Ann said, "And biking by men [in an urban environment in this context] is good for the environment. . . "

Whoa whoa whoa whoa. Fact assumed not yet in evidence.

I am a cyclist and cycling advocate, however this statement may or may not be true. Not aware of any good studies, but it's probably untrue.

1.) Dedicated cycling lanes clearly have a lower person- kilometer moved per square meter of asphalt level of productivity than do car lanes.

2.) More importantly, their creation usually results in a net subtraction of car lanes (often 50% in urban areas). The result of which is more congestion, thus more internal combustion idling, and ultimately. the less efficient movement of people in cars than in the dedicated lanes' absence.

Bike lanes are fine, but we oughtn't assume that they are net energy savers.

Barry Dauphin said...

Biking virtually requires that men wear shorts.

Chris N said...

Flatten ze whole city, replace everyzing mit one large bike lane, and voila:

Total green, gender, carbon and economic equality.

Shiny happy volk.

rehajm said...

Improve the gender ratio by encouraging men to move within walking distance of where they need to go.

rehajm said...

Alternative solution- the return of the purple banana saddle.

Scott said...

Some girl is going to get pregant from a Citi Bike seat. It's just a matter of time, you wait and see! Banana saddle indeed.

carrie said...

Most women don't ride the bikes going too/from work (or even other times) because it messes up their hair. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! Let the men ride the bikes because then they are not competing with women for other forms of transportation or parking.

tim in vermont said...

The bikes appeared in the windows of Bloomingdale’s and in an episode of Comedy Central’s slacker millennial show “Broad City.” The company recently posted a photo on Twitter of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the model Kelly Rohrbach kissing on Citi Bikes, and Vogue’s website praised the model Karlie Kloss’s “practical chic” outfit while riding....

Ha! Before I read below the fold I was thinking "In the old days, they would just order up an episode of The Simpsons."

Like the one that featured Marge and explained to women, who are the predominant driving force behind the purchase of large SUVs, why they didn't really want to drive them, even if you can fit lots of kids and friends into one.

Canyonero!

Fernandinande said...

Often men get more attention from the government:

"5:11 p.m. Police found a man and woman unconscious in City Park. The male subject was ticketed with open container and possession of alcohol."

EMD said...

And our host worries about those terrible Libertarians.

Jeez.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

How do you get from the door to the place where you can change? You have to be able and willing to be seen in your workout clothes on the way in. I can't picture doing that at the law firm I worked in in New York.

Also, you're going to carry a whole outfit to work? How? Roll it up and put it in a bag? And you have to carry a towel too? And just toweling off is supposed to be good enough cleaning and you put your good clothes on over that?

You talk like this is an obvious and easy way to deal with the problems.


But it is obvious and easy. OK, possibly not for NY BigLaw (though I still think it'd be easy enough to drive once a week and bring over four suits per work-week).

But, background here: My husband biked (not daily, but maybe half the time) to a private-school job in Northern CA, about 12 miles each way. Now the job is a public-school job in Salem, and more like 6 miles each way, and he bikes that frequently as well. He brings a change of clothes daily, and keeps a towel at school. The clothes fit easily in the rear panniers, where they share room with his lunch. He changes in the faculty bathroom, teaches for a day, changes back, goes home. It's seriously not complicated.

Your response seems to be 90% "ewwwww, sweat," frankly. But if the men can deal with the sweat, so can you. Woman up, already!

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ah, and carrie reminds me: Helmet hair. Because men don't care about their hair at all, whereas all women everywhere must be perfectly coiffed. Admittedly I'm a bit of a schlub myself, but I can't see getting exercised about helmet hair; I just can't.

EMD said...

Widen the seats until men stop using them.

Then no one will use them. Which will be equitable. Problem solved.

ALP said...

So many good comments here. As a female that did bike from north King County into Seattle for a short period (24 miles round trip) I agree with every single comment coming from a woman regarding the hassle of biking + grooming. The bike ride itself was the FUN part. The horrible parts came before (choosing clothes that would survive hours in a pannier) and after (the "whore's bath" in the sink of the public bathroom). I had a long post detailing the hassle it all was and why I gave it up after 3 months. Suffice to say: it made commuting so insanely complicated, it bordered on comical. I gave it up and went back to the simplicity of walking to the bus stop.

Further, after 2 car accidents and one bike accident: I have to say driving is safer. I walked away from both totaled cars, but the bike accident laid me up with broken bones for weeks. After two weeks of painkillers, I realized how people became hooked on opiates - so there's the threat of drug addiction that came along with that bike accident. So don't tell me how fucking HEALTHY biking is - I've got a mangled collar bone and associated problems that say otherwise.

Original Mike said...

We need some affirmative action on this problem. Charge men to ride the bikes; women ride for free.

Brando said...

Frankly, even if you personally would never ride a bike, the use of bikes by others obviously benefits you because those people are not creating extra congestion in cars (and make it slightly less likely they will run into you and cause serious damage, though some bicyclists can be pretty dangerous too). And more people in better shape is a net win, so long as the healthy still subsidize the unhealthy.

Bike lanes suck though. They're dangerous for everyone involved. You either need a dedicated trail, or a lane that is protected by high curbs or barriers. Or some streets completely blocked to motor vehicles. But what we have in most cities is a design just not meant for bikes.

I wouldn't mind a congestion charge for certain neighborhoods at certain times of day. If it in fact meant a smooth drive rather than sitting in aggravating traffic, I'd gladly pay a few bucks for it.

ALP said...

Michelle Dulak Thompson:

"Admittedly I'm a bit of a schlub myself, but I can't see getting exercised about helmet hair; I just can't."

What kind of job do you have?

mikee said...

So from context I get that "hantelagan" used by Mike way up in the comments above must mean some sort of uniformity of behavior or looks, but google fails me.

What language, what definition? Anyone? Beuhler? Beuhler?

traditionalguy said...

Everybody knew "girls bikes" were built differently with no center rail so they did not lose their virginity while Mountain Biking.

I guess it does not work that way anymore.

mccullough said...

Riding a bicycle in a congested city is dangerous. Unless you like the thrill, don't do it. Who are these men on "Citi" bikes? They are the problem.

Ann Althouse said...

@Michelle Dulak Thompson

You're directing advice at me, but you need to address the women of New York. These are the issues they raise.

Also, I don't think the sweat issues in NYC can be judged by what it's like in northern California.

And fitting clothes into rear panniers is no answer to the Citi Bikes question. You have to carry your things until you get to a station, then use the smallish front basket. Picture women in NYC trying to get their daily clothes into a form that can be conveniently dealt with like that. It's not easy.

And add the problem of dangerous and dirty traffic. There's just no comparison to your husband's nice northern California ride on his own bike. I'd be happy to do that, and I personally have biked to work many times. On my own bike. In a skirt.

Edmund said...

If someone sues, can't this program be seen as violating the new 'disparate impact' standard from the just-finished Supreme Court term? It is a program that mainly benefits one group (males) and not others (females), so there is defacto a disparate impact based on gender.

Bobber Fleck said...

Original Mike said: We need some affirmative action on this problem. Charge men to ride the bikes; women ride for free.

Didn't they outlaw sex based "happy hours" for being sexist (or something) to womyn? Wouldn't bicycle happy hours be sexist (or something) as well?

How would the bicycle happy hour apply to the all important transgender group?

Bryan C said...

“If you have more women riders, that means it’s convenient and safe.”

So female customers, as compared to male customers, are lazy and timid. Tell us more about your enlightened views on gender equality, Citi Bikes.

Original Mike said...

"How would the bicycle happy hour apply to the all important transgender group?"

Anyone who says he's a woman is a woman. Now, some may say that such a policy will reduce the effectiveness of bicycle-AA. But it doesn't matter if our policies work, only that our intentions are pure.

Bryan C said...

"Also, you're going to carry a whole outfit to work? How? Roll it up and put it in a bag? And you have to carry a towel too? And just toweling off is supposed to be good enough cleaning and you put your good clothes on over that?"

The obvious solution? Nudity. It's already perfectly legal for women to go topless in NYC, so we're halfway there.

knk6146 said...

How do you get from the door to the place where you can change? You have to be able and willing to be seen in your workout clothes on the way in. I can't picture doing that at the law firm I worked in in New York.

I walk (with my bike) in the front door, walk to my office, shut and lock the door, and change. Then open the door. I've been doing it for 20 years. A buddy of mine has been doing it even longer. One of the reasons I've stayed with my employer for that long is that I get to do this. I also don't wear a suit, and rarely wear a tie unless I'm also wearing a kilt.

Also, you're going to carry a whole outfit to work? How? Roll it up and put it in a bag? And you have to carry a towel too? And just toweling off is supposed to be good enough cleaning and you put your good clothes on over that?

Whole outfit = pants, shirt, underwear. It doesn't take a lot of room or weigh very much, and fits neatly into a saddle bag. Work shoes are kept at the office (1 pair nicer, 1 pair more comfortable for standing all day). For me, at least, a towel is good enough. People here are not shy about letting you know if you've offended them in some way. Keep in mind that in winter, the problem is staying warm, not staying cool. Spring and fall are delightful. When summer comes I take a less-hilly (and so easier) route.

You talk like this is an obvious and easy way to deal with the problems.

Again, for me, it is. We put a man on the moon in 1969. The problems to be solved aren't all that difficult unless you insist on making them so. It won't work for everybody, but it could work for more people than it does if they decided to make it work for them. I don't do this because I think I'm saving the world or the ozone layer. I do it because I enjoy the freedom, and don't have to cough up $5.50 round trip for The Man if I don't want to.

Original Mike said...

"I walk (with my bike) in the front door, walk to my office, shut and lock the door, and change."

I walked to work for 20 years. In the winter this included wearing long underwear, which I changed out of behind my locked office door. Then we moved to a new building where some administrator thought it a good idea for all our offices to have windows into the hallway (I guess because, otherwise, we couldn't be trusted not to sexually harass our students). It did complicate my daily commute, but I managed.

MadisonMan said...

Has anyone looked at racial inequalities in biking populations?

jimbino said...

I'm in Crested Butte, Colorado, where there are far more women sweating daily on mountain bikes and townies than there are Black Amerikans in all of the national parks, forest and BLM lands for hundreds of miles around, from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde. When I mention to friends to note that our trillion-dollar public lands are basically maintained as White Country Clubs, some try to justify the unfairness with, "They are open to all; anyone can visit them."

Of course, it's typical of a socialist nation to tax everyone to benefit the lifestyles of a select few. The route to fairness is to privatize public lands, skateboard parks and bicycling programs. In the meantime, we should be grateful that our gummint doesn't run Disney World and Walmart.

An alternative, Coasean solution, would be to just give all the public lands to Ted Turner. He has shown, at least, the ability to maintain free-range Bison herds, something our gummint seems incapable of.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/05/16/rancher-ted-turner-bison-meat-controversy

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

My husband's ride in Northern CA involved steep hills, dangerous and gritty streets (one involving both a steep grade and essentially no room between the lane and the nose-to-tail parked cars all along both sides -- you had to be constantly on the lookout for "door prizes"). Also rain; also triple-digit weather. I'll admit that triple-digit weather in Manhattan is nastier than the same anywhere else, except the Deep South, but it isn't exactly a joke in Novato either. You're imagining my hubby cheerfully tootling along nice, flat roads at an equable 70 degrees year-round. It wasn't like that then, and it isn't like that now in Salem, either, where the last two weeks have been high 90s/low 100s.

Again, the solution to the clothing thing is to drop off a week's apparel on Monday (taking a car or -- this being Manhattan -- more realistically a cab or public transit), and bike the rest of the week. The towel stays at work, to be replaced weekly as well.

ALP, I'm a freelance writer and violinist/violist. Not that it's any of your beeswax, frankly :-)

Joe Schmoe said...

I've worked at several places, and only one had a shower. Sorry; bike commuting without a shower isn't an option for me. Maybe if you're doing something in manufacturing, or if you are in academia, you can get away with it. However, so many jobs are now service jobs in offices, where men and women interact a lot, and are expected to be clean and presentable. You don't want to be the person who smells like Pigpen from the Peanuts. And even if you don't think you stink, you do. You're just habituated to your own scent.

Larry J said...

It seems that freedom of choice only applies to abortions. If a woman goes to college and decides not to study engineering, it's her choice, not a problem for the engineering department. If women decide not to ride bikes in NYC (which seems like a pretty sane decision to me), somehow it's a problem. At least in theory and rhetoric, people are free to make their own decisions. In reality, it seems they aren't if their decisions are different than what the CHOMFs want.

CHORFs: cliquish, holier-than-thou, obnoxious, reactionary, fascists.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Here is a fair and progressive solution. Pay females to ride the bikes. If the ladies just check out the bike, chuck it in the back of their car, and drop it off later, that would be OK. The important thing is to get the program participation numbers up, and even out the sex inequality.

Also, male riders could self-declare as females for the purposes of the program.

A great way for the homeless to pick up pocket change. Folks who would otherwise be pan-handling need only check out a bike (self-declaring as female if need be) and hold it for a few hours or days. No photo-id or credit check needed, of course.

Gabriel said...

@Henry:And you're not dropping off or picking up your kids with a bicycle.

Taking my son to preschool in his iBert is one of my favorite memories.


KidS. Plural. Good luck fitting more than one on your bike.

I don't mind getting myself killed on a bicycle, I'm insured, but I'd not risk a child's safety daily on city streets.

jimbino said...

Larry J: If a woman goes to college and decides not to study engineering, it's her choice, not a problem for the engineering department.

It is a problem that people are being taxed to support the pleasures of gummint's favored people. The worst offenses in the USSA are those that involve taxing singles to support the myriad special privileges and benefits accorded married straights and now gays and those that involve taxing the childfree to support the breeding habits of others, especially now that the planet can hardly bear more of their brood.

Matthew Sablan said...

I always assumed this was because of the different kinds of clothing that men and women wear. It's probably hard to ride a bike in some of the long and short skirts/dresses I've seen office ladies wear, especially with some of the heels.

It's just a matter of practicality, I always figured.

tim in vermont said...

I don't mind getting myself killed on a bicycle, I'm insured, but I'd not risk a child's safety daily on city streets.

City street nuthin! Yesterday I was driving home from golf on a country road and I saw a man with two babies in a sort of trailer on the back of his bicycle coming the other way, a few seconds later I saw a beat up old SUV coming over a rise pretty fast who couldn't see them yet, and just behind that I saw the mother watching the SUV going up over that rise pretty fast towards her two babies behind her husband's bike which she knew was there but couldn't see. She had a pretty worried look on her face. I just can't imagine it's worth the risk.

Sam L. said...

The solution that came to me immediately: Put a majority of step-thru (women's) bikes out there, in various colors, avoiding the dreaded PINK.

Just Mike said...

Bottom line is that people are no longer free to simply do as they will. They will be made to comply, eventually at gunpoint I assume. In the progressive utopia all that is not forbidden is mandatory. Oppression will set you free

Gabriel said...

@tim in vermont:I just can't imagine it's worth the risk.

There are plenty of ideological bicyclists who would say it was perfectly safe, but skydivers says skydiving is perfectly safe too.

The statistics aren't good but bicyclists are roughly 2% of traffic fatalities annually, and they're several times more likely to be killed on a per-mile basis.

Ideological bicyclists say that's unfair because it counts kids and drunks and people who don't ride safely, but that's also the case with automobiles too.

A child in a car seat, as opposed to rising on a bicycle, may or may not be more likely to be involved in an accident, but the odds of surviving it are far higher in a car and a car seat.

As a baby (in the 70s) I was thrown from a car while in a car seat, and was not injured. Modern cars and car seats are much safer. Bicycle safety features are practically non-existent. I would not strap a child on a bike for a daily commute.

Gabriel said...

Incidentally walking is far more dangerous than bicycling.

Yancey Ward said...

How much longer, do you think, it will be before the men have to pay to use the bike share program while the women get it for free? And if there is already a fee, how much longer before men are charged more?

Original Mike said...

"Incidentally walking is far more dangerous than bicycling."

That's hard to imagine.

Anthony said...

Women around here (Seattle) cycle in skirts, sometimes very short ones.

Which seems alluring at first, but they usually have on shortish bike shorts underneath so not so alluring.

I cycle to the gym in the summer, but that's on a quiet street and a trail for nearly all of it. I wouldn't ride much especially on busy streets. They are mad about bike lanes all over, all for a bunch of tw*ts who don't even bother to. . .well, you know the litany. But the City's modus operandi for all traffic problems is "Let's Paint Bike Lanes!"

Gahrie said...

Ok Who fucked up?

Somebody has to get fired over this!

We actually funded a program that benefits men?!?

I demand a special prosecutor.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Gabriel,

Good to know; I don't drive or bike. I walk. So far, over decades, my sum total of injuries due to walking were (1) a woman driving right into me coming out of a Trader Joe's; (2) another woman very nearly doing the same in Carmel, but stopping six inches from me; and (3) my tripping over a poorly-placed sidewalk square, which sent the book I was reading flying, but injured me not at all.

FWIW, my husband was blindsided by a truck while making a left turn, which resulted in a broken big toe. Even my one big accident just left me semi-unable-to-get-around for a few days.

EMD said...

""Incidentally walking is far more dangerous than bicycling."

That's hard to imagine."

Depends on how you calculate it. Is it rates of incidence or sheer numbers? Sheer numbers is easy: more walkers than cyclists.

Rates of incidence? I'd be skeptical but tripping over oneself or the sidewalk or slipping on water or ice probably happens more often than a injurious bike accident.

Matthew Sablan said...

"I'd be skeptical but tripping over oneself or the sidewalk or slipping on water or ice probably happens more often than a injurious bike accident."

-- That makes sense. People won't bike in that weather, and will instead, if they HAVE to go out, walk in it.

Original Mike said...

" Is it rates of incidence or sheer numbers? "

I'm assuming rates; sheer numbers wouldn't be worth mentioning.

"Rates of incidence? I'd be skeptical but tripping over oneself or the sidewalk or slipping on water or ice probably happens more often than a injurious bike accident."

Maybe. I walked to work for years. Ice can be a real problem.

Sigivald said...

"assistant director for technology programming"?

So, uh... are they quoting her because she said the thing they wanted, or was she set as spokesman because this is so lame nobody important could be detailed to it?

(I don't even know what "technology programming" is supposed to mean, in English.)

Gabriel said...

@EMD and Michelle Dulak Thomson:

Walking is more dangerous on a per-mile basis than driving or cycling. As you might guess, the primary danger to pedestrians is motor vehicles--which is also the primary danger for cyclists as well as other motorists.

When a car hits a car both sides may walk away, but when a car hits a bicycle or a pedestrian it's a very different story.

It may be hard to imagine that walking is more dangerous, but it's hard to imagine how often people get struck by lightning, or that 90% of lifelong smokers don't get lung cancer, but there it is.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Anthony,

They are mad about bike lanes all over, all for a bunch of tw*ts who don't even bother to. . .well, you know the litany.

Yep, I sure do. In Novato, it was that a lot of cyclists didn't use the bike lanes at all; the sidewalks were a lot more convenient. (I spent much of my time stepping off the sidewalk into the f'in' bike lane to avoid cyclists.) And when they did, they used the one opposite the direction they were going rather more than half the time.

Is it racist to mention that the people doing this were generally small and disproportionately, er, tan? Why, yes, I suppose it is. Sorry.

In Salem, it's different, mostly because there are just a lot fewer cyclists. I encounter them very occasionally on my walking routes.

Matthew Sablan said...

"(I don't even know what "technology programming" is supposed to mean, in English.)"

-- I interpreted it as a fancy way to say "social media marketing person."

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Gabriel,

Per mile traveled, probably. I walk mostly 3-4 miles a day, which is as nothing in a car.

Honestly, though, barring demented lunatic drivers, you aren't in any danger on foot except at intersections, and all you need there is elementary caution. And I do mean "elementary," as in "look both ways before you cross the street."

Matthew Sablan said...

Look left, then right, THEN LEFT AGAIN.

Smilin' Jack said...

And biking by men is good for the environment, so women get the benefit without subjecting ourselves to the physical dangers of biking in streets full of cars and trucks.

But you don't get to bask in the warm glow of Gaia's approval. Also, it makes you look like chickenshit planet-haters. It's all part of the War on Women.

Original Mike said...

"Honestly, though, barring demented lunatic drivers, you aren't in any danger on foot except at intersections, and all you need there is elementary caution. And I do mean "elementary," as in "look both ways before you cross the street.""

Yep.

Terry said...

Jimbino wrote:
"It is a problem that people are being taxed to support the pleasures of gummint's favored people."
Wait a minute. Do you mean that the government is treating people differently? Does Justice Kennedy know about this? This is kind of thing that makes him steaming mad.

jr565 said...

Why does the bike program need to recruit more woman? Or men? people who want to ride bikes will be the ones that do. If those are men, that's your customer base. Nothing wrong with that.
People are lookinfg for problems where there are none. Would it be nice if more women rode bikes/ Only if it was convenient for them. If more women would rather ride in cabs, then that's what's convenient for them.

richard mcenroe said...

Nothing says "office environment" like a cubicle farm full of sweaty bicyclists...

walter said...

Man..scrolled through all this expecting to find sir Spatula's top tale of sex on a bicycle. Ah well.
But yeah..bike imbalance is another wonderful case of outcome based agitation.
One benefit some women might take solace from is that more men are likely to die from "tooling" around NYC. Spaghetti Monster knows men there are plentiful, expendable and potential rapists.
A few years ago, a New Yawker was regaling me with the brilliance of Nanny Bloomberg's enabling of this via special tax creds/incentives to add showers to offices.

tim in vermont said...

I always wanted to get a stencil that says "Organ donors" and spray paint it over "bicyclists" on those signs that say "Bicyclists may use full lane."

Is that just me?

jimbino said...

If you ever have the urge for sex, better to take a walk or ride, since sex is far more dangerous, especially on a per-mile basis.

MayBee said...

Spinning classes are usually a mix of male and female, but more female. Women want to ride in controlled situations, with dressing rooms. Apparently.

Joe Schmoe said...

Whatever happened to the Segway? Chicks didn't dig the Segway, I guess.

Henry said...

Gabriel wrote: KidS. Plural. Good luck fitting more than one on your bike.

Luckily, my kids came one at a time.

As for per-mile danger, stay away from horses.

Alexander said...

You know the most dangerous mile? Zeno's. Quite literally every possible bad thing will eventually occur.

walter said...

Hey..horses as transportation in NYC. I like it. Not just for cops anymore.

Larry J said...

jimbino said...
Larry J: If a woman goes to college and decides not to study engineering, it's her choice, not a problem for the engineering department.

It is a problem that people are being taxed to support the pleasures of gummint's favored people. The worst offenses in the USSA are those that involve taxing singles to support the myriad special privileges and benefits accorded married straights and now gays and those that involve taxing the childfree to support the breeding habits of others, especially now that the planet can hardly bear more of their brood.


I guess you've never heard of the very real marriage penalty in the tax code. Try looking it up.

As for over population, those arguments have been made since the time of Malthus and have been proven wrong every single time. Virtually everything Ehrlich predicted in "The Population Bomb" with the exception of how long it would take the Earth's population to double proved wrong. To hear some of the population gloom and doom crowd, it almost comes across as species self-hatred. Far from over population, for many countries the problem is a collapsing birth rate that will soon lead to too few workers having to support a rapidly aging and declining population.

H said...

One commenter was on the right track (but I can't find the comment now). There are two ways to achieve equity: more women bikers or fewer men bikers. To achieve fewer men bikers, replace two-thirds (or so) of the bikes with really small bikes that would be suitable for (some) women but not for (very many) men. Lots of the small bikes will be unused, but we will have moved in the direction of equity.

Lonetown said...

Women can benefit from riding bikes. Its not like your going to bust your hymen.

(am I dating myself)

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Larry J,

There is no "marriage penalty" as such. There is a penalty if two people of roughly equal incomes get married; there is, OTOH, a bonus if two people of wildly unequal incomes get married. (This is not a hypothetical weirdness; it describes, for starters, my own situation.)

The only way for the tax code to avoid both possibilities is if there's a positive penalty for not being married at all. Until recently, that was a non-starter, but what are the chances that (say) Oscar and Felix of "The Odd Couple" might as well make a match of it today?

H said...

And to add to my earlier comment at 2:55 -- That's roughly how title IX works in collegiate sports.

EMD said...

"Why does the bike program need to recruit more woman? Or men? people who want to ride bikes will be the ones that do. If those are men, that's your customer base. Nothing wrong with that. "

But where else can we socially engineer stuff if not a bike-riding program?

RonF said...

I live in the Chicago area. If anyone thinks I'm riding a bike anywhere from between Halloween to St. Patrick's day - or even Memorial Day - they're nuts.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Larry J.,

I forgot to add: You are absolutely right on The Population Bomb. (And its sequelae, like the bet with Julian Simon over metal prices, which Ehrlich lost in every particular.)

The difficulty we have is that our (= "the developed world's") population is tanking, while population everywhere else is still rising. Europe is all below replacement rate; some of it (I'm looking at you, Greece, Spain, Portugal) waaaay below. Japan, ditto. China, not quite as much as it would like, although with ca. 100M surplus young men, I think it did well to loosen "one-child."

But Africa? South and Central America and Mexico? The Middle East? (India's a mixed bag.) That's where your kids are coming from, and we will be needing them shortly; in fact, we already are. What that means for Japan in particular I really don't like to think about, because they're the one country in this mess with a positive aversion to importing foreigners of any description.

Anthony said...

"Harrison Bergeron" was meant as a cautionary tale, not a how to manual.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

In a fashion-conscious city, women’s concerns over their appearance are understandable because they are held to a higher standard at work, said Ms. Steren, the stylist.

Well, there's your problem, right there! DiBlasio should prohibit any advertising or other depiction of stylishly dressed and well coiffed females. Condition the public to admire sweaty ladies with hairy armpits in baggy clothes. Problem solved.

Tammy Fisher, 35, an eyebrow specialist, rides a Citi Bike to her job in the West Village almost every day.

Fashion tip: to get a proper eyebrow job, you need *two* specialists - one right-handed, one left-handed. I've never met a right-handed eyebrow specialist who could do first rate work on the left brow (or vice-versa).

jimbino said...

Larry J who needs to read the entire tax code:

I guess you've never heard of the very real marriage penalty in the tax code. Try looking it up.


Where is the"marriage penalty" in:

1. Defendant's right to bar spousal testimony in court?
2. An Amerikan's right to sponsor immigration of foreign spouse?
3. The right of wife and all former wives to share in a man's SS benefits?
4. The right to participate in employer's healthcare plans?
5. The right to defer taxes upon inheritance?
6. The right to medicare benefits based on spouse's FICA contributions?

There are over 1000 special spousal benefits given to married couples at the expense of singles.

Marc Puckett said...

Here in Eugene, there are bikers everywhere along with dedicated lanes on all the major thoroughfares through the city and onto the University of O. campus. More men than women bikers, I guess, but don't really keep track. After having three bikes stolen since 2009, am only now nearing the point of getting ready to purchase another: on the other hand, the other day I nearly killed some biker, who cut across my lane as we approached a stoplight; so it seemed to me, anyway-- I tell myself I ride safely and observe the law but the fact is I don't, not all the time and in all circumstances. No rental bikes here; I suspect the bureaucrats of the People's Republic know as well as I do that most of those would be stolen within six months of their introduction. But we do have two short term, hourly rental car agencies.

MDT-- I hope you've gotten to Eugene for Bach Festival concerts! although I'll admit it's a long walk from Salem. :-)

Big Mike said...

Step 1: Determine how many women have to become bicyclists to balance the numbers

Step 2: Hold a lottery, sort of like the old draft lottery in the 1960s, picking birthdays out of a hat. Women are drafted to become bike riders based on the order of their birthday's selection. Choose however many birthdays it takes to get the number of bicycle riders determined in step #1.

Step 3: The lottery winners are forced to wear bicycle shorts and bicycle helmets and ride their bicycle at least two miles daily.

Problem solved.

Gahrie said...

What that means for Japan in particular I really don't like to think about, because they're the one country in this mess with a positive aversion to importing foreigners of any description.

There is a reason the Japanese are working so hard to perfect service robots.

Drago said...

jimbino: "There are over 1000 special spousal benefits given to married couples at the expense of singles."

#lovewins

Larry J said...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...
Larry J,

There is no "marriage penalty" as such. There is a penalty if two people of roughly equal incomes get married; there is, OTOH, a bonus if two people of wildly unequal incomes get married.


Which described our family's situation for almost 30 years. My wife and I both had similar incomes for most of our marriage and were consistently creamed on taxes as a result. Our tax burden did drop substantially when she had to retire for medical reasons 3 1/2 years ago.

jimbino said...
Larry J who needs to read the entire tax code:

I guess you've never heard of the very real marriage penalty in the tax code. Try looking it up.

Where is the"marriage penalty" in:

1. Defendant's right to bar spousal testimony in court?
2. An Amerikan's [sic] right to sponsor immigration of foreign spouse?
3. The right of wife and all former wives to share in a man's SS benefits?
4. The right to participate in employer's healthcare plans?
5. The right to defer taxes upon inheritance?
6. The right to medicare benefits based on spouse's FICA contributions?


I'm not denying that there are special privileges for married people in the tax code and federal law. Most if not all of them were written into the code a long time ago. The point about spouses not being compelled to testify against one another likely dates back centuries. The Social Security and Medicare benefits date back to a time when few wives worked outside the home. The odds are high that they were put in place by Democrats who controlled both Congress and the White House when Social Security and Medicare were enacted.

I'm a flat tax supporter myself and fully willing to tax everyone at the same rate regardless of marital status. It'll never happen, though, because there's too little opportunity for bribes from the tax lobby.

If you look at the current tax brackets, you'll see that the marriage penalty is still there once the taxable income exceeds $148,850. This happens every year, where some of the examples you mentioned such as immigration for a foreign-born spouse never happens for most people and seldom more than once for anyone.