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Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding (still) at Risk

by Ted Johnson

I looked at the homepage of this site and could hardly believe what I saw. The most recent stories, stacked three high, featured black and white photos of Hollywood entertainers.

Commute by Bike Celebrity-Mongering Homepage 1/26/12Well, the celebrity mongering is over.

For now.

Let us return now to the lofty topics for which this blog is known. No, not liquor stores. Not pareidolia either. I’m talking about advocacy.

Stop! Don’t leave! This will be interesting.

Did you know…

  • Biking and walking make up 12 percent of all trips, but only 1.5 percent of federal funding.
  • Two out of three pedestrian deaths take place on roads built with federal funding.  Ensuring funds for sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways help end preventable deaths and make roads safer for everyone.
  • When town centers are biking and walking friendly, business and economic development improves.

Those handy bullets come from The League of American Bicyclists latest alert on the state the Transportation Bill, “House Bill Threatens to Eliminate Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding.”

Transportation Bill Heats Up Again in Congress | Streetsblog Capitol Hill

Transportation Bill Heats Up Again in Congress | Streetsblog Capitol Hill

Reportedly, the new and “improved” version of the bill will be unveiled on Friday, or maybe Monday.

What is in it? We’ll find out.

But, brace yourself. The House and Representatives and Senate have been entertaining versions of the bill that would “completely wipe out dedicated funding for biking and walking.”

When the bill is released, it will get worked over in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for about two weeks before being sent to the floor for debate.

If you care about funding for biking and walking in the Federal Transportation Bill, contact your Representative and tell them so. If you like, use those interesting bullet points from up top.

Contact Your Rep with this AmericaBikes.org form

If we can make the case to Congress that bikes are transportation, and deserved to be funded in the Transportation Budget, then maybe we can find time to talk about movie stars again.

 
BOB Trailer Sale

6 Responses to “Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding (still) at Risk”

  1. Did it! Used to argument for providing citizens with options allowing them the abilty to exercise personal responsibility over making ends meet by reducing auto dependence.

  2. Kevin Love says:

    I am somewhat ambivalent about a federal transport bill. That’s because I’m a US citizen living in Canada where the central government spends almost zero on roads. And yet the cycling mode share is three times higher in Canada than in the USA.

    Aside from a few small exceptions such as Canadian Forces bases and some Indian Reserves, Canada’s constitution states that roads are a provincial government responsibility and railways are a Dominnion government responsibility.

    This has worked out very well. If (as in the USA) the central government was picking up 90% of the cost of urban car expressways, it is safe to predict that there would be a lot more of them. In particular, the proposed post WWII expressway network for Toronto (Spadina Expressway, Richview Expressway, Crosstown Expressway, Scarborough Expressway, etc, etc) may have actually been built. What a disaster!

  3. BluesCat says:

    Kevin – I can see your point, but what you must remember is that the governments of Canada and the United States are vastly different, and the citizens of each have vastly different mindsets about getting around.

    Unlike in the United States, the citizens of Canada did NOT buy into the whole “automotive culture.” Canadians, and their governments, have always realized the importance of rail and water as keys to a complete system which will “eliminate economic or geographic disadvantages.” After WWII, U.S. citizens settled on private automobiles as the most prevalent form of getting around; over 82% of Americans get around in private automobiles as their primary means of transportation, while less than 50% of Canadians use a private car as their primary transportation.

    The American states are much more independent from their federal government than the Canadian provinces are from the monarchy. As a result, the Canadian provinces cooperate more on issues that affect the entire country and are less interested in so-called “states rights.”

    Put all these things together, and what it means is that Canada doesn’t need to have the national government managing a high level of financing of a nationwide system of transportation; the governments of the provinces and the citizens everywhere simply “get it.” Whereas here in the U.S. if we didn’t have a strong, federally funded transportation system the gridlock would stretch from sea to shining sea!

  4. Kevin Love says:

    BluesCat –

    I certainly agree with you about Canadians not buying into car culture. I’ve “gone native” to the point that whenever I return to the USA there are always a few things that boggle my mind.

    One of those is the strength of the car lobby that prevents government officials from simply telling the truth about the harm that cars do. For example, Toronto’s Public Health Department, led by Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, produced a report that concludes that the air pollution produced by cars:

    Kills 440 people per year in Toronto;
    Injures 1,700 people so seriously they have to be hospitalised;
    Causes children to have 1,200 acute bronchitis episodes;
    Causes children to have 60,000 asthma symptom days, and;
    Imposes mortality costs of $2.2 billion per year.

    See:

    http://www.toronto.ca/health/hphe/pdf/air_pollution_burden.pdf

    Needless to say, neither the USA’s Surgeon-General nor any other public health official has come out with anything similar in the USA. At least as far as I am aware of. Please prove me wrong by coming up with a counter-example.

    Instead, US politicians and government officials all have to bend the knee before the car lobby and seldom to never criticise car drivers for the harm that they do.

  5. Kevin Love says:

    BluesCat,

    It is also my observation that the USA’s federation is far more centralised than Canada’s confederation. Starting with the fact that Canada is a confederation in which the provinces have a right to separate. Twice Quebec has held referenda on this subject, and separation was voted down both times.

    The US federal government exercises authority over the states that greatly exceeds anything allowed in Canada’s constitution, particularly in the areas of social and cultural policy. For example, US Social Security is universally mandatory, whereas the government of Quebec has opted out of the Canadian equivalent and runs its own pension system.

    Another example is the US government’s educational schemes, such as “No Child Left Behind.” Education is an exclusive provincial juristiction in Canada.

    Or even having a national drinking age at the absurdly high age of 21 years. What’s with that? Canadian provinces set their own age, and in no case is it higher than 19 years.

    See:

    http://www.cbc.ca/thisisthat/blog/2011/10/07/quebec-lowers-drinking-age-to-14/

    Warning: “This is that” is a fake news show, somewhat like Jon Stewart in the USA. Making fun of Quebec’s government doing things just to prove that they are different from everyone else is a common thing.

    And I love the “Alain Rousseau” French accent. He’s got perfectly the Jean Chretian “incoherent in both Official Languages” style of speech.

  6. BluesCat says:

    Kevin – (chuckle) We’re kinda straying off-topic, but as long as Ted doesn’t mind us being the only ones posting on this article’s thread, let’s go for it!

    Totally agree with you about the U.S. Government’s seemingly lack of interest about the health consequences of the automobile, or the willingness of the Government to tell the lobbyists to take a hike. I’m convinced that the reason for this is the money that Big Oil and Big Auto contribute to politicians on BOTH sides of the aisle. Heck, even Obama talked about GM and Chrysler being “too big to fail.” What kind of nonsense is THAT?

    Also am in total agreement with you about some of the silly laws which are on the books in the U.S.; especially that drinking age law of 21. So, an 18-year-old kid can go into the U.S. Army, and within a few months be on a battlefield overseas, making life and death decisions for himself and the others in his unit, and when he comes home he isn’t “mature enough” to go into a tavern and have a beer with Dad?!? Ridiculous.

    Now, I have to edit one of your statements to make it something I can agree with; please bear with me, I think you’ll understand (my modifications are in italics): “The US federal government exercises authority over the states that greatly exceeds anything allowed in Canada’s constitution, particularly in the areas of social and cultural policy, when it identifies a vacuum in the law which fails the American people.” See, the 10th Amendment restricts the U.S. Government to having control only by way of enumerated laws; if it isn’t spelled out in some federal law somewhere, it is the province of the States.

    This is why the Religious Right is so hot for an Amendment which would define marriage as something between only a man and a woman: it would nullify all those state laws which allow same-sex couples to marry.

    The system isn’t perfect, there have been some spectacular failures. The big one that comes to mind is the 18th Amendment: Prohibition. Really, though, there have been some Constitutional changes, which have overridden the wishes of some of the states, to make the United States the envy of freedom-loving people everywhere: the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude) and the 15th Amendment (prohibiting the denial of suffrage on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude).

    Which brings us back to the whole transportation issue. Without the Federal Government’s Transportation Program, getting products to market in the U.S. would be a nightmare because the only adequate roads would be from-rich-guy’s-house-to-rich-guy’s-house over on the East Coast!

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