Bike-Ped Defunding Proposal Sparks Mutiny in Mica’s Home District

The residents of Florida’s 7th Congressional District must contend with some of the most dangerous pedestrian crossings in the country. And it’s beginning to sound like they’re tired of it.

Crossing the road can be a dangerous undertaking in Congressman John Mica's home district in Florida. But his proposal could make less money available to protect pedestrians. Photo: ##http://www.cfnews13.com/article/news/2011/april/237471/Volusia-Countys-busiest-beach-lot-to-get-new-crosswalk?cid=rss## CFnews13##

But is their powerful Congressman listening? Rep. John Mica, chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has put forward a proposal that would eliminate dedicated funding for pedestrian and cycling projects. During tough economic times, Mica has stated, states should have more “flexibility” on how they spend their transportation dollars.

Meanwhile, back in Florida, Mica’s idea has sparked a revolt.

“In his own backyard, and among his own constituents, he is now surrounded by opposition,” said Jake Lynch of the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

It all started in April when Volusia County, in the heart of Mica’s 7th District, unanimously passed a resolution opposing the congressman’s plan. Since then, other communities have piled on, including nearly half a dozen from within Mica’s turf.

Putnam County, the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization and the communities of Palatka, New Symrna Beach, Daytona Beach and Holly Hill [PDF] have all voted unanimously for resolutions that decry Mica’s plan and support dedicated funding for programs like Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, and the Recreational Trails Program. And more local communities are coming forward with resolutions by the day. The Volusia regional planning agency is preparing a similar resolution for passage, as are the counties of Flagler and St. John’s.

“The people down here are taxing themselves to pay for these amenities,” Pat Northey, vice chair of the Volusia County Council. “This is not just about providing trails and pathways for people to get around in this county – this is about ‘heads in beds.’ This is an economic engine.”

Nor is Mica’s plan earning accolades in the Florida media. The Orlando Sentinel has been editorializing against his proposal, under the headlines of, “a wrong turn” and “danger ahead.”

On May 25, the paper wondered: “What’s attractive about living in a place where it’s dangerous to even walk?”

And on May 11: “What meager money now goes to sidewalks and bike trails could become rarer still if Rep. John Mica, chair of the House transportation committee, gets his way.”

All of this has been underscored by Florida’s recent last-place ranking in Transportation for America’s annual survey of pedestrian safety, the “Dangerous by Design” report, released last month.

Ken Bryan, the Florida director of the Rails to Trails Conservancy, points out that in the last decade more than 5,000 pedestrians have been killed on Florida streets [PDF].

Rep. John Mica pictured last year in Volusia County at a Safe Routes to School Event. Just one year later, he wants to eliminate funding for the program. Photo##http://www.volusiatpo.org/press-releases/congressman-john-mica-supports-safe-routes-to-school-at-westside-elementary-daytona-beach/## Volusia TOP##

To address this major public health problem, many local communities have developed long-term plans that include incremental improvements. But Mica’s proposal could render them obsolete.

Florida’s newly appointed state transportation secretary, Ananth Prasad, has said that he does not think transportation money should be spent on sidewalks and bikeways during periods of budget crisis. Without dedicated funding, local governments in Florida are convinced the dollars available for the state’s most vulnerable travelers will be curtailed.

Bryan said he is especially disappointed to see Mica take a position against pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Traditionally, the Congressman had been a big supporter of local trail projects, Bryan said. Florida advocates were excited when he was appointed to chair the Transportation Committee.

Now Mica’s loyalties seem to have shifted.

“He’s more interested in doing the bidding of congressional leadership than what his constituents want,” Bryan said.

  • Rambo Wildcat

    Let the Right Wing get their way…….it will spark a new revolt in a few years towards true balanced approaches to transportation in America.  As more people die, get fat, lose their jobs, and drive in total gridlock, only then will a truly progressive transportation bill be possible.  In the meantime, we are stuck with old, crusty men like Mica to rule our nation. 

  • Lee Jane Ream, PE

    Pedestrian accidents are typically the predictable result of jay-walking as you illustrated in your article. If money is not spent on most cost effective measures there will be none left to do anything.

  • Lee Jane Ream, PE

    Pedestrian accidents are typically the predictable result of jay-walking as you illustrated in your article. If money is not spent on most cost effective measures there will be none left to do anything.

  • JCH

    LJ Ream, please back up your assertions with data. Also, please define what “jaywalking” is. It is a catch-all phrase that is over-used and often innacurate based upon common misunderstandings of whos is afforded the ROW. Not that peds aren’t responsible foor many crashes, but a quick search revewals you are in the Houston area, one of the worst when it comes to traffic and bike/ped safety. And as a PE, it is time to get on board with the proeper terminoloogy; they are crashes, not accident.

  • Lee Jane Ream, P.E. City of PasadenaTroll?
    http://www.h-gac.com/taq/commitees/RSC/default.aspxWhat's more cost effective – grade-separating a roadway to prevent pedestrian access and then building pedestrian bridges or providing crosswalks?

  • Lee Jane Ream,

    There were pedestrians and bicyclists long before there were automobiles. Since when do prior users deserve to be kicked off our streets? Jaywalking would be far less frequent if adequate crosswalks and speed limits were installed and enforced to save lives. And those are FAR cheaper than the separated (“roadway apartheid”) approach that you suggest, which is impractical – and costs far more money to boot- than simple ped safety measures.

  • Pedestrian- and bicycling projects are BS because they let the automobile culture continues unabated. Our problem is not too few bike paths, but too many motor vehicles. EVERY street should be a bike path. Bicyclists and pedestrians should stop being such cowards, and call a spade a “spade”.

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