Four wheels good, two wheels bad

This may astound you, but there are times when I fear that our elected representatives don’t have our best interests at heart.

Take Rep. John Mica (R-Big Oil). The American Energy and Infrastructure Act, scheduled to be marked up on Thursday by Mica’s House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has been described by Ben Goldman of DC.Streetsblog.org as “a return to 1950s-style transportation policy” that is “particularly unkind to transit and bike/ped programs.”

No-bike routeAndy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists has penned a list of the top-10 problems with the proposed legislation, and I expect there are many more than 10.

Andy told my colleagues over at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News that the legislation undoes 20 years’ worth of progress made toward including cycling and walking in the national transportation plan.

“We were expecting the funding would be under attack but were surprised at how carefully they want to take bike/ped out of the bill altogether,” Clarke said. “There were sections of the bill that we didn’t know they knew existed. They’ve gone out of their way to attack the bike/ped portions.”

It truly boggles the mind. Self-described “conservatives” who don’t bat an eyelash at starting wars that run into the trillions of dollars take the greatest possible umbrage at the pennies required to create and maintain sidewalks, bike lanes and pedestrian/bicycle trails that provide safe havens for the folks who’d just as soon not crank up the family tank for short trips to school, shopping or work.

Jesse Prentice-Dunn of the Sierra Club told Streetsblog that the bill represents “a significant step backwards for safe biking and walking.”

“Today more than 12 percent of trips are made by foot or bike, yet less than 2 percent of our nation’s transportation funding goes towards biking and pedestrian infrastructure,” Prentice-Dunn continued.

“According to the Alliance for Biking and Walking, bike commuting increased 57 percent between 2000 and 2009. Instead of increasing investment in transportation options that Americans want, the House bill appears to funnel more dollars towards roads, further deepening our addiction to oil.”

Addicted to oil? Say it ain’t so! I’m certain the only reason we want to keep the Strait of Hormuz open is to defend the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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11 Responses to “Four wheels good, two wheels bad”

  1. Arnold Says:

    I am aghast!! :0 There are no words for a betrayal of this magnitude! *weeping with frustration and ager* :( D:

  2. Khal Spencer Says:

    So glad you have joined this fight, OG.

    I penned this to a UK blog about bicycling as transportation.

    Anyone following the current U.S. Congressional re authorization of our transportation bill will see that car is seen as king by the Republican Party, and this could have a profound influence, given its coming from the biggest economy in the world. I hope the Senate sends this back where it belongs, and then flushes twice to be sure.

    Its not that the car doesn’t have its place, simply because we have built our civilizations around the automobile for a century and its going to take time and effort to change that. But short trips and urban centers are not its place.

    What is truly bizarre is how the reactionary politics one sees in the U.S. has somehow decided that transportation alternatives are the enemy. The virulence with which programs like Safe Routes to School and Complete Streets are being rejected suggests to me this is not about saving money. Its about an ideological rejection of conservation and controlled growth. Its simply mind-boggling how stupid these people really are.

    When Obama bailed out the auto industry, I was a little ambivalent, given my stepfather was a career General Motors machinist and relies on his pension and health care plan in his old age, as do many others. And, to be quite honest, I am a closet motorhead, like many in my generation (that doesn’t mean I drive the car to the mailbox in the morning!). But really, should we be rescuing car companies, or letting other forms of transportation compete on a level playing field?

    Major industries like the car companies exert profound influence over national and world economies. There is, quite simply, too much money to be made and too many jobs at stake and these industries and their banker friends will circle the wagons. We will need to re-think what we consider successful economies before we replace jobs whose purpose is to drive consumerism. But we can’t simply continue to consume. Its going to kill us, just as cutting down that last tree killed the Easter Islanders.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Aw, this sort of shit just drives me insane. It has to be a deliberate strategy: Target bike/ped, NPR, PBS, et al., etc., and so on and so forth, and keep the progressives so busy pissing out little fires that they ain’t got nothing left for the big ones.

      Their base is a comparatively simple one: Slash spending and taxes. Feeding that lot is like slopping hogs, or feeding goats. They’ll eat damn’ near anything and thank you for it.

      There will be a place for the infernal combustion engine for quite a while yet, and the hybrid and electrical options that will supersede it. But there should be room for human-powred transportation, too.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Slash spending – except for corporate welfare and defense of course….these TaxedEnoughAlready Party morons are easily manipulated by their corporate masters like Romney and the Koch bros. The 99% need to go on strike, all of us, for just one day to show the 1% that without us there would be nobody for Romney to fire, Newt to philander with or anyone to help Donny Trump with that squirrel on his head! What good will all that money do them if the rest of us won’t be their slaves? They can’t eat it!

  3. Opus the Poet Says:

    Oh it goes much worse than you even think, there is a section of the bill that outlaws bicycle-friendly rumble strips on highways. So they want not just a total lack of bike friendly infrastructure, they want actively bike-unfriendly highways.

    • Khal Spencer Says:

      Kill those fuckin’ liberal bikers, eh?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s also a great opportunity for an election-year shakedown. The National Bike Summit is coming up in late March, and I would be shocked — shocked! — to learn that the very public servants who hold us in such low regard might try to give us a friendly little pat on the wallet pocket, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more, say no more. …

  4. Grumbly Says:

    “What a pack of liars cheats and thieves” said my 100+ year old mother “count you fingers before and after you shake hands with them too!” when she finally stopped the protest against the wars in Afganistan and Iraq. “no blood for oil”.

    She still is a role model for me and many of my friends.

    I only hope I can get to be even a bit as effective as she is.

  5. Larry T. Says:

    Is anyone TRULY surprised by this? Think of who these “lawmakers” see in their tiny brain when they imagine a cyclist or pedestrian – it’s that illegal alien or poor, homeless citizen grinding along on a Sprawl-Mart special or someone pushing a rusty shopping cart with all their worldly goods inside. THEY don’t vote or pay taxes so who cares about them? Certainly not the Repuglicans in Congress. They can look like heroes to their KK…oops, Tea Party constituents by slashing the measly budget for these projects (probably not even enough to buy a dozen fighter jets!) when they get a chance. If the 99% let the White House and Senate become controlled by these folks ALL 99% of us (including the nitwits that vote for ‘em) will be in deep, deep, doodoo.

    • Khal Spencer Says:

      Trouble is, in the States, almost ANYONE riding a bike is portrayed as a little bit off-camber. Well, I wonder if that includes well groomed House Majority Leaders riding on well groomed D.C. area bike paths. The Repubs have been pushing a message denigrating bicycling, global climate change, and other issues associated with progressives in parallel for a couple years now.

      I wonder if Mr. Cantor will give up his bike path first. We can probably add a new traffic lane to his route.

      We are as easy to target as that Elitist Kenyan Socialist Negro President. Divide and conquer.

  6. Davet Says:

    Who needs safe routes to school anyway? Maybe the answer is to incorporate some driver ed training in preschool, presto problem solved. Another generation lost to the internal combustion engine and type II diabetes. It’s just sad.

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