Tuesday, January 31, 2012

House Committee Guts Bike-Ped programs

I am forwarding this request for support from the League of American Bicyclists. Many of you have probably seen it already but those who have not, please consider contacting your representatives about the bill in question. No time for land mail before Thurs., so phone calls would be best and email next-best. I concur with Andy Clarke's list of ten top problems with this bill--this isn't just about the money, but about gutting the whole damn planning and implementation process for bicycling infrastructure. Frankly, though, it doesn't take a whole lot of money to provide bicycling amenities. Its not like we weight 80,000 lbs and run on eighteen wheels.
Its not like we get a big piece of the federal pie, either.
Source: Bicycling and Walking in the United States 2012
Benchmarking Report, Alliance for Biking & Walking
As posted by LAB
Apparently, a pro-bike amendment was shot down and this bill moved forward in its very smelly current form.The good news is, this bill still has to clear the full House and then the Senate. Stay tuned.

Bicycling, like other modes of carbon-lite transport, are out of political fashion with the current House majority party (with a few noteable exceptions such as Reps Petri, Johnson, and Lobiondo; a tip of the LA Bikes tinfoil beanie to them). I fear that in its ideological purity, the House Majority is leading this country into some very dangerous waters. Further, I disagree that bicycling, walking, and transit as transportation are all local issues, which is the cover story used by many, including some bicyclists, to cut these programs at the Federal level. What melds them into a national issue are the looming specters of poor public health, Peak Oil, vulnerable overseas oil supplies, and climate change. All of these issues will affect us across state lines as well as in our pocketbooks. Unfortunately, the free market is often behind the curve or oblivious to such issues, hence the need for advance government planning.  Heck, if MIT can think outside the transportation box, why can't Congress? Oh, well...never mind.
With acknowledgements for the agit-prop art to Patrick O'Grady

Congressman John Mica (R-FL) announced the introduction of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. The proposed bill eliminates dedicated funding for bicycling and walking as we feared, and it goes much further and systematically removes bicycling from the Federal transportation program. It basically eliminates our status and standing in the planning and design of our transportation system -- a massive step backwards for individuals, communities and our nation. It's a step back to a 1950s highway- and auto-only program that makes no sense in the 21st century.
The bill reverses 20 years of progress by:
  • destroying Transportation Enhancements by making it optional;
  • repealing the Safe Routes to School program, reversing years of progress in creating safe ways for kids to walk and ride bicycles to school;
  • allowing states to build bridges without safe access for pedestrians and bicycles;
  • eliminating bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs; and
  • eliminating language that insures that rumble strips "do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians or the disabled."
On Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee will mark-up the bill and Representatives Petri (R-WI) and Johnson (R-IL) will sponsor an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School. Representatives Petri and Johnson can only be successful if everyone with a stake in safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways contacts their representative today.
Because of these urgent new developments, and the vital importance of a HUGE turnout on Capitol Hill in March, the National Bike Summit early bird registration deadline has been extended to Feb 20. We need every single cyclist in Washington, D.C. that the city can hold (and that's thousands ...). Register today!
Stay in touch by visiting bikeleague.org and americabikes.org for background and breaking news.

Andy Clarke
League President
The somewhat Orwellian cover page of the House bill.
Its all about cars and Big Oil