Mica Wants to Abandon Federal Commitment to Bike-Ped Funding

A few final notes before we all head home for the weekend…

Jonathan Maus at BikePortland just brought our attention to a recent comment we wish House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) hadn’t made. As the Orlando Sentinel reported yesterday, Rep. Mica is making noises about “siphoning away” money for bike paths. The Sentinel says Mica “wants to add flexibility to how states spend their share of federal gas taxes by cutting back on mandates. He added that states still could spend on bike paths and sidewalks if they were a priority.”

Rep. John Mica wants to leave bicycle funding up to states. Photo: ##http://bikeportland.org/2011/05/06/mica-hints-at-slash-to-key-federal-bike-funding-52613?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BikePortland+%28BikePortland.org%29##Jonathan Maus/BikePortland##

State DOTs are notoriously stingy with active transportation projects, often preferring to spend money on highways. Without federal insistence that a certain amount of money go toward bike and pedestrian programs, advocates worry that many of them will be underfunded right out of existence.

The Rails to Trails Conservancy quickly responded to Mica’s statement, saying. “It’s time to get smarter about how we build our transportation infrastructure and move away from an outdated approach to transportation investment that can be best characterized as, ‘Drive, Baby, Drive!'”

Mica will have all the support in the world from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s new transportation secretary, Ananth Presad, who questioned last month whether “spending money on sidewalks, bike trails, beautification and other projects like this is the most prudent use of taxpayer money.”

In more news from Florida’s transportation backwater, it looks like Sec. Ray LaHood is ready to announce the final winners of the rail money Gov. Scott decided not to take.  The USDOT has announced that LaHood is headed to New York and Detroit next Monday to make “a major announcement about high-speed intercity passenger rail.” We already know Illinois got $186 million of the $2.4 billion Florida was allocated. Four hundred million of that was eliminated in the FY2011 budget but USDOT still had $2 billion to play with.

  • Keith Laughlin

    The Orlando Sentinel ran a poll next to the Mica story to see how many people agreed with his anti-active transportation position. The result: 6% Yes; 92% No.

  • Nevadared

    Here’s an idea…we keep the funding for R/T and stop ALL funding to the Senate/Rep! No more sedan service, no more free hair cuts, no more air travel etc.

  • Jmt1969

    I wish that Secretary La Hood makes this a bit more low profile. By making this one of Obama’s legacies, the Administration has made rail into a target by those who wish to oppose the Administration’s agenda.

  • John Wetmore

    If states are given one big pot of money for all transportation projects, the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011 (just introduced by Rep. Matsui) will be incredibly important. Whatever roads states build must automatically include appropriate provisions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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