Since when did biking and walking become controversial activities?
They’re good exercise, fun to do and help us save money and the environment. And at a time when one third of our nation’s adults and 17% of our nation’s children are obese, it just plain makes sense for people to be exercising more. That’s one of the reasons I wrote my book, Get Out!, which promotes healthy outdoor activity for kids and their parents.
Biking, Walking More Popular Today In Cities
Both biking and walking have become more popular for transportation and recreation today, and they are easier to do in cities, thank to federally-funded trails, bikeways and pathways that make getting around on two wheels and two feet safer and more convenient.
Two Republican Attempts To Take Funding Away From Biking, Walking Paths
In September, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn proposed stripping all designated federal funding for bike and pedestrian projects from the pending Transportation Bill. After an outpouring of opposition from citizens coast-to-coast, Coburn withdrew his amendment.
Now bicyclists and pedestrians are under attack again, this time in an amendment from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. He wants to redirect every last penny of money dedicated to bicycling and walking to bridge repair instead. His proposal is scheduled for a vote next Tuesday.
It’s not a question of bridges vs. bike paths. Obviously, they are both important. Bridges need to be safe, as do the millions of kids and adults that bike and walk every day. In 2009, there were 630 bicyclist deaths on the road, and 4,092 pedestrians lost their lives. We shouldn’t have to choose between safe bridges and safe streets.
Three Reasons Congress Shouldn’t Be Choosing Between Bike Paths And Bridges (from Shareable):
1. First of all, Senator Paul’s amendment will not even come close to fixing America’s bridges. Biking, walking and other so-called “transportation enhancements” that Paul wants to kill account for less than two percent of the total Transportation Bill. It would take 80 years using money saved from scrapping these programs to finance the backlog of current bridge repairs—not to mention future needs.
2. States are not spending the money already allocated for bridge repairs. Last year, they returned $530 million to the federal government. That represents a big chunk of total bike and pedestrian projects.
3. Federal money to make biking and walking safer and more convenient is a great investment in America’s future that pays off in safer streets, reduced environmental damage, greater energy security, improved public health and more resilient, neighborly, pleasurable communities.
What is it that so irks Republicans about biking and walking? I have to admit that I am baffled.
Photo Credit: Canadian Dragon