Cycling Stuff Healthy Living

My first-ever letter to a politician

I couldn’t help myself. I wrote an e-letter to my state senator, Doctor Rand Paul (R) KY.

The reason: Dr Paul proposed an amendment that would have blocked ‘transportation enhancements’–aka bike lanes and walk paths. (Thankfully it was defeated.)

How is it possible for a real-life doctor to oppose spending that fosters human-powered transportation? How can a cyclist oppose bike lanes? And even Republicans spend money; why not on bike paths?

Here’s what I submitted to his website:

Dr Paul,

I am writing to you as a fellow doctor, cyclist and registered Republican.

Mostly I like your message. (Ed note: my politically-savvy friends advise: always lead with the positive.)

But I do not understand your recent anti-cycling legislative efforts.

You told me (at the Jefferson County Lincoln Dinner this Feb) that you rode a recumbent bike. If this is true, you must know the difficulties that Americans who choose human-powered transportation face. It’s scary out there my friend. Nearly every day I am threatened by an over-scheduled, distracted and inflamed driver. Wait…these may be my AFib patients!

That’s one reason to seek an explanation.

Here’s another:

As a doctor who resides in KY, you also know what sedentary-ism has reaped. You said the Transportation Enhancement amendment should be non-controversial and bi-partisan. But I find it controversial because it threatens funding for bike paths and walkways. And communities that make it harder to ride or walk are part of the nation’s health consumption crisis. These “squirrel sanctuaries,” as you call them, are far from frivolous. Just come visit me in the office for a few hours and you can see first hand what happens when people drive too much and pedal too little.

And finally, as a Republican, it seems to me that since I pay taxes, it’s okay to spend my money to help make our environment friendlier for heart-healthy endeavors. These investments would surely prove fiscally responsible in the long-run. As you remember, in Medicine we call such therapies…”cost-effective.”

Thank you,

This is my first ever letter to a politician. It’s official: I can now be called old.

John Mandrola,
Cardiac Electrophysiology
Louisville KY

I’ll let you know what he (or his staff) say in return.


4 replies on “My first-ever letter to a politician”

Dr. John,
I imagine Rand Paul’s reason will be purely fiscal. I live in TX near his father Ron Paul, and know that one of his major concerns is our out of control spending. I’m also a registered Republican, agree with your views, (love your column) but am also very concerned about the viability of a nation so deeply in debt (see Greece!) and our ability to afford all our wants! My son-in-law goes to bike trails and tries to injure himself! Ha

When I lived (very briefly) in Wake Forest, NC, one of the things that surprised us was the lack of sidewalks in the brand new neighborhoods that had been built during the boom years. Additionally, none of the country roads have shoulders. This means the kids have no safe walk to the school bus stop, and the adults take their lives in their hands riding on the open roads. Failure to spend money to encourage physical activity is penny-wise and pound foolish. The bow wave of older Americans heading towards Medicare need to be out and about right this second, losing weight, increasing cardiovascular capacity, improving their insulin sensitivity and stressing their proprioceptors; but they need safe places to do it. Kids need to grow up in a culture where breaking a sweat on a daily basis is the norm, or as a nation we’re doomed. People who own bikes also own cars and pay gas taxes. I’d like to see some of that money go towards bike lanes.

Very good points, and fun to read…not many can write a fun letter to a politician. Cheers Dr John!

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