Secretary Peters Says Bikes “Are Not Transportation”

peters.jpgWe’d expect this kind of thing from some people, but not U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters.  On PBS’ "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" this week, Peters stated that instead of raising taxes on gasoline to renew the nation’s sagging infrastructure, Congress should examine its spending priorities — including investments in bike paths and trails, which, Peters said, "are not transportation."

Some excerpts:

  • You know, I think Americans would be shocked to learn that only about 60 percent of the gas tax money that they pay today actually goes into highway and bridge construction. Much of it goes in many, many other areas.
  • There are museums that are being built with that money, bike paths, trails, repairing lighthouses. Those are some of the kind of things that that money is being spent on, as opposed to our infrastructure.
  • Well, there’s about probably some 10 percent to 20 percent of the current spending that is going to projects that really are not transportation, directly transportation-related. Some of that money is being spent on things, as I said earlier, like bike paths or trails.

PBS has the full transcript, along with video of the interview.

ADDENDUM: A tipster sends along this link to a prescient STPP report from 2003, debunking the myth that bridges are in ill repair because of spending in "other areas":

Why has bridge safety declined in some states while it improves in others? Although the bridge program is designed to put federal dollars where they’re most needed, many states fail to take full advantage of the funding available to them. Overall, the states have spent only 73% of the bridge funding allocated by Congress over the last decade

Photo: FHWA

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