Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Secretary LaHood defends bicycle infrastructure funding

As we've noted in the past, Senator Coburn (R) of Oklahoma doesn't like bikes or bike infrastructure. He and Senator McCain tried to remove Transportation Enhancement funding from the upcoming Transportation bill. That move was soundly defeated as have all attempts to strip TE funding.

Most recently he singled out some bike projects that were funded by Recovery funds. It's refreshing to see that Transportation Secretary LaHood agrees we need better bike facilities. In a recent blog post Coburn Report dismisses Recovery-supported bike paths LaHood defends the Recovery spending:
"We've worked hard this year to get our Recover Act dollars out to the states quickly and effectively. Yes, some of those projects include bike paths, a key ingredient in our livability initiative to allow people to live, work, and get around without a car.

We don't call that waste; we call it progress."

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Senator Webb votes to kill bike/ped funding

Senator Coburn (R-OK) has been trying to kill funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects that are part of the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program for many years. Back in 2007 he tried to strike TE funding from the 2008 Transportation appropriations bill:
"we should not be spending money on bicycle paths for our own leisure, comfort, and exercise when we have bridges that are falling down."
I guess Senator Coburn has never heard of bike commuting or bicycles used for transportation. That effort in 2007 was defeated by a vote of 80-18. The 18 votes in favor were all Republicans.

Sen. Coburn's latest attempt to cut TE funding failed again in the Senate by a much closer vote of 59-39. What is more disturbing is that Virginia's Senator Webb voted with Senator Coburn to kill funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. We suggest that cyclists tell Senator Webb that funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects needs to be increased, that people are demanding better, healthier transportation choices, cleaner air, and safer streets.

The Alliance for Biking and Walking provided some suggested topics for including in your message:
I am concerned by your vote to support Senate Amendment 2371 on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. The amendment would have allowed states to Opt out of the Transportation Enhancement program, which is the main source of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

Bicycling and Walking are clean and efficient modes of transportation. Currently, bicycling and walking account for 10% of the national mode share and yet receive less than 2% of the surface transportation funding. These cost efficient programs save 1.4 billion gallons of gas a year and 12 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. At a time when we are looking to address climate change and reduce Green House Gas Emission's (GHG) we should not be cutting funding for biking and walking.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure saves lives. Nationally, 13% of all roadway fatalities involve bicyclists or pedestrians. 41% of pedestrian fatalities occur where crosswalks are not available. Additionally, a recent survey conducted by AARP, shows that 47% of the nation's elderly currently do not feel safe crossing the streets in their neighborhoods.

Building Bicycling and Pedestrian facilities are good for the economy. Building biking and walking infrastructure creates jobs - bike infrastructure is more labor intensive and less material intensive than building roads. Sidewalks and bike lanes make streets and downtowns into destinations for shopping and entertainment. Investing in walking and biking facilities helps local business and is an investment in the local economy.

Please reconsider your support for Transportation Enhancements. This program is vital to providing transportation options for all Americans.
One day bicycle and pedestrian projects will be an integral part of ALL transportation projects and there won't be a need for a separate fund. Until that time, TE funding is vital for building an interconnected pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Senators Coburn and McCain: Kill bicycle funding

Coburn and McCain have a problem with transportation funds going toward bike projects. They asked the GAO to find out how much was spent in the past five years for "purposes other than construction and maintenance of highways and bridges." Apparently they think that "transportation" means highways and bridges.

The figure turned out to be $78 billion, of which $2 billion was for ped/bike projects. The GAO report states that $243.1 billion was spent on transportation during that period. $2 billion is .8% spent on ped/bike projects. According to LAB, 27% of the population over 16 years of age rode their bikes at least once in 2002.

A large portion of the $78 billion not spend on construction and maintenance was spent on non-bike/ped projects, such as "safety, planning, research, traffic management engineering, ferryboats, and training." And yet the $78 billion figure is used throughout the report as if it ware all spent needlessly on bike/ped projects.

Apparently the $2 billion wasn't bad enough for Coburn and McCain, so they had to go back for the last 13 years to say that another $3.2 billion was spent on bike/ped projects, which is probably a much smaller percentage of the total transportation amount.

Not only do the two senators belittle bike projects, they don't think Federal funds should be used for bike safety programs either:
Efforts can be made to increase the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, but do today’s transportation circumstances warrant 398 federally funded projects costing taxpayers $84 million? By reviewing the projects' impact, eliminating those that are not showing results, and consolidating similar or duplicative projects, safety for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as motorists driving on roads and bridges could be enhanced.
I'll agree with them there; ALL transportation projects need to be reviewed for their total impact on the environment, health and safety of our population, livability of our communities, and eliminating those that don't show results. Isn't it time we tried something different besides building more roads and highways and having over 40,000 people killed on our roads each year not to mention all the other negative impacts of more cars on more roads?

Let Senator McCain and Senator Coburn know what you think.

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