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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