(Apologies to Tim for pre-empting his excellent article on the Simple Bike Commute, but this news is too important to delay.)
My children and I cross the Golden Gate Bridge bicycle path. When counts were last done in 2002, 1600 bicyclists daily rode across on weekdays. Anecdotally, bicycle use has climbed significantly since then. The Golden Gate Bridge and other similar bicycling facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area are a vital part of the transportation network for bicyclists.
Last night on PBS News Hour with Jim Leher, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters explained the Bush Administration’s policy of no new taxes to fund repairs for the transportation infrastructure. Peters told News Hour that up to 20 percent of the federal gasoline tax is earmarked for non-transportation projects, specifically mentioning bicycling facilities as an example of inappropriate, non-transportation use of the federal gasoline tax.
The League of American Bicyclists responded with this letter to Peters to correct the impressions made by Ms. Peters:
- That bicycle facilities are not transportation related. “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,” writes LAB Executive Director Andy Clarke. “Every one of these trips prevents congestion, pollution, and energy consumption while improving the health of the rider or walker.”
- “You left the impression that an enormous percentage of Federal transportation funds are spent on projects such as these. The reality is that only one percent of these funds are spent on bicycling and walking projects despite the fact that these two modes account for ten percent of all trips in the country and 12 percent of traffic fatalities each year.”
In his letter, Clarke urges Peters to stand by a statement she made at the 2002 Washington, DC bike summit:
“Many people in our country use bikes for more than recreation. For them, bikes are their vehicle for the commute to work and for the errands of daily life. We need every mode of transportation to keep America mobile. What modes did you use to get to your hotel? Very few of us depend on a single mode. I strongly agree with Secretary Mineta, bicyclists 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.”
The LAB also asks cyclists to send their comments to Ms. Peters to share their personal viewpoints.