$2 Billion for Bicycling in Stimulus Package?

blumenauer.jpgEarl Blumenauer. Photo: New York Times

The most tantalizing tidbit in today’s Times profile of Earl Blumenauer comes from fellow cycling Congressman James Oberstar:

With an eye on the potential stimulus package, cycling advocates "have compiled a list of $2 billion of projects that can be under construction in 90 days," Mr. Oberstar said, adding that prospects are "bright."

We’re putting calls in to congressional offices to find out more about how this potential funding would get distributed and what needs to happen to include it in the recovery package. The list Oberstar mentions may refer to the $3.4 billion in ready-to-go bike and pedestrian projects identified by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (click through for their petition).

Meanwhile, the House Republican leadership is making its transportation priorities clear. Here’s Minority Leader John Boehner, quoted in the Hill:

"I think there’s a place for infrastructure, but what kind of
infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion
for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are
necessary?" He stated. "But if we’re talking about beautification
projects, or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to
look very kindly on this."

Isn’t this the same GOP that wants to re-establish its fiscally responsible bona fides? That will be a tall order as long as it’s still the party of Patrick McHenry — mocking a cost-effective transportation solution that will help Americans save money, while supporting exorbitant highway expansions that commit us to more spending on gas and huge maintenance obligations down the road.

  • rex

    Why wouldn’t Americans look kindly on beautification projects and bike paths? Those projects create jobs and pay dividends to the community for generations. Just because the economy is heading into the pooper, does not mean that stimulus projects have to be ugly. Many CCC projects of the thirties were just that sort of project. Skilled carpenters and masons created many beautiful works that remain assets today.

    Congressman Boehner should realize that people are going flee the rust belt like the Okies and Arkies did in that Steinbeck novel. Even if he is too shortsighted to see bike paths as infrastructure, he should see that future of cities in Ohio is grim, and the cities will need every bit of beauty they can if they have any hope of thriving.

  • gecko

    One billion dollars for a New York City public bicyle system would transform this town into a showcase for practical and sustainable tranportation and transit that would service in excess of 8.5 million daily with minimal overhead and immediate savings by greatly limiting the $13 billion lost by traffic congestion and $1.5 billion in road accidents in addition to the increased income from the local tourist and other businesses.

  • Kaja

    > Why wouldn’t Americans look kindly on beautification projects and bike paths? Those projects create jobs and pay dividends to the community for generations.

    Occam’s razor.

    It’s as Tocqueville said: Americans give little thought to the past, none to the future following their own deaths. They spend their lives doing the best to forget the inevitability of death, distracting themselves (wildly successfully) materialist hedonism.

    We’ve even segmented our society to hide its ugly underbelly from us, so that we can _actually_ live in blissful ignorance, a la Eloi.

    A society which believes that the highest justification is enlightened self-interest, and which has access to collective credit with generational terms, would actually be altruistic, which means insane, to do anything other than to spend its’ childrens’ money.

    Why preserve a future you won’t be alive to witness? Why refrain from pilfering a man who can’t retaliate?

    This, the American boomer ethos. Their forefathers bequeathed the most prosperous and freest nation the world’s ever seen; then, they milked it for all it was worth. What portion of the bill they couldn’t cover, we’ll pick up.

    And – I insist on this – they are blameless under American principles.

    Americans need to change their principles.

    (As the invoices for the crimes of the twentieth century begin to land, I believe this is precisely what will occur.)

  • Kaja

    I should add that they are blameless under their own principles because they expected us to continue along the same lines; to grow the population, to invite our own children into the intergenerational Ponzi, to live off the fat, and to pass the buck.

    (I should also add the word “with” before materialist hedonism.)

    Said policies may seem demonstrably unsustainable, but that’s no matter to the Boomer given sufficient faith in technology. Faith which seemed – to those who aren’t engineers, and so don’t know how Things Actually Work – entirely warranted, from the World’s Fair through the Internet.

    It was “like magic”.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Is Kaja sort of a deeper, more metaphysical, Larry Littlefield?

  • da

    Are rails-to-trails really a good idea? I wonder if we need trails-to-rails instead?

  • The problem with the RtT proposal is that it, in my opinion, is focused on recreational bicycling, not city/urban/practical bicycling. The “Ideas for Making Cycling Irresistible in DC” vision paper that I produced in June 2008 was in response to the RtT proposal, and the DC Bicycling Advisory Committee (which advises the DC Dept. of Transportation) asked me to give them ideas…

    urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2008/07/ideas-for-making-bicycling-irresistible.html

    When I said that the response shouldn’t focus on recreational cycling/”trails” but on strengthening and extending the bicycling environment and infrastructure I got the response, “well, this is in response to a proposal being put forth by Rails to Trails and we should respect that” …

    Still, I’m glad that something has been submitted, it’s just that it’s possible to be amazing, say along the lines of the UK’s Cycling City and Cycling Town demonstration projects, or not, but spending $2 billion in the process. Like much of the stimulus plan, I see it doing stuff, but not amazing stuff.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/bristol/somerset/7462791.stm (Bristol)

    http://www.dft.gov.uk/foi/responses/2005/nov/cyclingdemonstrationtowns/

    http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/speeches/spchcycledemotowns

    http://www.cyclingengland.co.uk/cycling-cities-towns/

  • Forgive me for wasting bandwidth with this post, but…

    “Is Kaja sort of a deeper, more metaphysical, Larry Littlefield?”

    LOL.

  • Tempe, AZ (and most of the valley) has a fairly large biking community. I’m sure people here will be happy to read this.

  • Just to be clear on this, Rails to Trails worked with America Bikes, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and the National Complete Streets Coalition in developing that list. It covers a lot more than recreational trails.

  • Char Gnagi

    It would be wonderful to see both Rails-to-Trails and the roads benefit. The roads could be widened with bike lanes which are kept clear of debris and maintained.

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