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Take action: Transportation Secretary says “Bike facilities are just pork”

by Richard Masoner

(Apologies to Tim for pre-empting his excellent article on the Simple Bike Commute, but this news is too important to delay.)

Headless  Panda on the Golden Gate Bridge

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.

 
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7 Responses to “Take action: Transportation Secretary says “Bike facilities are just pork””

  1. Warren T says:

    Excellent post Fritz! It only took a few minutes to fill out the form and send the e-mail with the LAB link that you provided. As I told Ms. Peters, I commute by bike on a bike path almost every day (94 work days so far this year) and have only used the trails for recreation ~5 times this year. I’d count that as transportation use…

  2. beerorkid says:

    Whoa. I watch the news hour every night. unfortunately I went out on a bike ride the 15th and missed this. Thanks for sharing this on FFL I will spread the word as well.

  3. CJ says:

    I use our local trails in Lincoln, Ne almost daily. They (the trails) are a great part of living in Lincoln. Beerokid..I thought that everyone that looks at FFL should see read this article. I hope that a vast majority of them write a response to Ms. Peters.

    BTW, I am the guy who rides the green Moncog 29er on TNWR’s. I haven’t been on a ride in quite few weeks as I am taking a college course on Tuesday evenings.

    Peace out

    See ya around

  4. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the post. I forwarded this information about Ms. Peters to the activists in town. I wouldn’t have known about it if it hadn’t been for the site.

  5. Tim says:

    Thanks Fritz. I send Ms. Peters an email with my feelings on the subject and sent email to a group of like-minded bikers in Eugene.

    Tim

  6. Jett says:

    Every now and then, something burns me and this is one of them.

    I changed jobs for one reason: so I could ride my bike to work. I’m sure that is probably outside of 2-3 standard deviations, but saying that bike paths are not transportation infrastructure is outside of 5-6 standard deviations.

    The other part that gets me is there are people in this country who will believe what she says. It’s irresponsible for her to make those statements and it’s irresponsible for the public not to question her.

    I thought writing my letter would get it out of me, but I think it has only gotten me more fired up. That might be a good thing ;-).

  7. [...] facilities was an example of inappropriate, non-transportation use of the federal gasoline tax. We urged you to send your comments to Ms. Peters. I wrote a polite, but pointed comment to Ms. Peters via the link that The League of [...]

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