SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk busts a WaCkY MoVe on a red carpet. (Photo by Britta Pedersen / POOL / AFP)

Wait until Elon Musk hears about bikes

They will blow a billionaire’s mind. 

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Along with money, there’s another thing that Elon Musk is not short of: opinions. As the owner of the electric car company Tesla, he most especially has opinions about traffic. He wants it conquered – by stupid tunnels underground, by autonomous vehicles, by blasting people into space. 

Most recently, the world’s wealthiest man fired off another entry in a growing library of “extremely dumb” tweets:

Speaking from a car-centric perspective, he is perhaps correct. Thousands of vehicles being driven in and out of urban centres by single occupants to work every day does have a way of choking arterials. But the replies to Musk’s musing – which has received a lazy 5,000 quote tweets – split in two telling directions: public transport advocates telling him he is wrong (which he is) and cyclists telling him he is wrong (which he is). 

Here are a few highlights:

Now – I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I think it’s worth reiterating – cycling is not just great at beating traffic, but also has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It’s also great at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, making you healthier, improving mental health, creating memories, exploring the world, and forming friendships.

To get more people on bikes, however, requires a change away from car-centric policies and investment in separated cycling infrastructure – which may take effort and a shift away from established behaviour. It’s cheaper than building roads or stupid tunnels, but it also costs money – something that Musk, as a single human man who is worth more than the GDP of Greece, South Africa or Pakistan, has in abundance.

But can Elon Musk, Holder of Opinions, be persuaded to discover the joys of cycling? That’s unclear. Having spent years pursuing the electric car dream, it’s hard to shake a habit. Or, as Musk might put it himself:

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