Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bicycle transportation and the Bush League

So, on PBS' News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said,

The last highway bill that was passed, in the summer of 2005, contained ... $24 billion [in Congressional earmarks, which was] almost a tenth of the bill.... There are [bike paths, trails, and] museums that are being built with that money, [which is being used as well in] repairing lighthouses... as opposed to our infrastructure.


[T]here's about probably some 10 percent to 20 percent of the current spending that is going to projects that really are not transportation, directly transportation-related. Some of that money is being spent on things, as I said earlier, like bike paths or trails.

I could see some kind of car nazi thinking bicycles weren't transportation, but lighthouses? How more infrastructury can you get? You may require extremely poor planning to lose your GPS, and Loran, but you'd want those lighthouses there. What is transportation infrastructure, anyway, if it doesn't include bike paths and lighthouses?

The Federal Highway Administration creates a distinction called Nonmotorized Transportation Infrastructure. I haven't seen one called Nonterrestrial Transportation Infrastructure. As numerous other sources have pointed out, being nonmotorized doesn't make transportation any less real. Here's Andy Clark, Executive Director of the LAB, for instance,

Your statement that bicycle trails and paths are not "transportation-related" or "infrastructure" is baffling.... Tens of millions of bicyclists and pedestrians in communities across the country use trails to get to work, school, shops, and to visit friends and family.... I find it astonishing that, almost 20 years after the groundbreaking ISTEA legislation that created flexibility and allowed greater local input over Federal transportation funding, you would single out bicycle trails in this way. At a time when individuals, communities and as a nation we are battling congestion, obesity, energy consumption, global warming, and air quality issues, projects and programs to help people use alternatives to driving are a wise investment.... Secretary Peters, as Federal Highway Administrator you delivered remarks at the 2002 National Bike Summit ... "[B]icyclists are an integral part of our nation's transportation system and we all need to work together to develop a better more balanced transportation system that provides facilities and programs for bicyclists on a routine basis."
Isn't Bush 43 the Bicycle President? Mr. President! You know I've always stood by you. Please ask for this woman's resignation.

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