Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

News

Bush Administration: Biking and Walking Is Not Transit

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

5b2bbb434488b30009269581-original.jpg

It seems the Bush's appointed Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters, has something in common with Mayor Villaraigosa's appointed Department of Transportation head, Gloria Jeff: both are for goods movement, but not always for the people. Luckily, Jeff has not started any major wars with bicyclists like Peters' has, according to an article in Salon, with her current political rhetoric:

In an Aug. 15 appearance on PBS's "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," Peters spoke against a proposal to raise gas taxes to shore up the nation's aging infrastructure. The real problem, the secretary argued, is that only 60 percent of the current money raised by gas taxes goes to highways and bridges. She conveniently neglected to mention that about 30 percent of the money goes to public transit. She then went on to blast congressional earmarks, which dedicate 10 percent of the gas tax to some 6,000 other projects around the country. "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," she said. The secretary added that projects like bike paths and trails "are really not transportation." [snip]

"... The guy in his Humvee taking his videos back to the video store isn't any more legitimate a trip than the guy on the Raleigh taking his videos back," says Andy Thornley, program director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

In fact, only about 1.5 percent of federal transportation dollars go to fund bike paths and walking trails. In the meantime, 10 percent of all U.S. trips to work, school and the store occur on bike or foot, and bicyclists and pedestrians account for about 12 percent of annual traffic fatalities, according to the Federal Highway Administration... with problems like global warming, the obesity epidemic and energy independence, shouldn't the U.S. secretary of transportation be praising biking, not complaining about it? What really drives cyclists around the bend is that while they're doing their part to burn less fossil fuel -- cue slogan: "No Iraqis Died to Fuel This Bike" -- they're getting grief for being expensive from a profligate administration. "War spending, tax cuts for the rich, and gas taxes are all big sources of funding. Bike spending is not," fumes Michael Bluejay, an Austin, Texas, bike activist, in an e-mail.

For Los Angeles, funding for ten full-time bikeway engineers and a couple other bicycle positions are filled. Are they producing the results needed for this city?
Support for LAist comes from

Photo on the LA River bike path by Clinton Steeds via Flickr