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Editorial: GOP doesn't like bikes

Thursday, November 3, 2011
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Some $900 million, or 2 percent of the federal transportation budget, goes to build trails and lanes for bicyclists, sidewalks and other amenities for pedestrians. That’s not much — but still too much for conservatives like Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have sponsored legislation in the last two months to de-fund these so-called “transportation enhancements.” The money should be used instead to fix our crumbling roads and bridges, they say.

There’s no denying that many of our nation’s roads and bridges are in bad shape. But the conservatives are offering no new plan, no extra money, to fix them — in fact, they have proposed less. They refuse to consider raising taxes, including the federal gas tax, which has been stuck at 18.4 cents since 1993, its value being eroded by inflation.

For them, it appears, this is not really about economics. Somehow biking and walking, which more and more Americans are doing for recreation and transportation (thanks to the safety and convenience of those new paths and sidewalks), have become an ideological issue, like NPR and Planned Parenthood. The conservatives seem to view cyclists and pedestrians as do-gooder environmentalists and global warming alarmists.

The giveaway is the language they use in dismissing projects that give people more transportation options, make them healthier and safer, decrease traffic congestion, lessen the need for imported oil, save wear and tear on roads and bridges, promote smart growth, spur local economies and help the environment. Coburn calls them “silly priorities,” Paul calls them “craziness.” Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes said recently that Denver’s bike-sharing program — there are now similar programs in Washington, New York City, Chicago and a growing number of cities — was a “well-disguised” effort to turn the city into a “United Nations community.” Just so much socialist silliness, in other words.

Actually, there’s a conservative case to be made for bicycling and walking — including conservation, efficiency and freedom. They deserve at least a small piece of the federal transportation pie.

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November 3, 2011
7:07 a.m.
wmarincic says...

When your house is falling down around you, do you pave your driveway? Good Grief, somebody in America has common sense and you want to bash them.

November 3, 2011
8:12 a.m.
steveg says...

To fellow reader wmarincic:
Didn't you read this part?: "But the conservatives are offering no new plan, no extra money, to fix them — in fact, they have proposed less. They refuse to consider raising taxes, including the federal gas tax, which has been stuck at 18.4 cents since 1993, its value being eroded by inflation."

November 3, 2011
8:41 a.m.
1963 says...

I agree with the Gazette's editorial and steveg.

November 3, 2011
12:09 p.m.
albright1 says...

$900 million for bike trails and pedestrian amenities?That's not much??? are you kidding me?? 900 freaking million dollars?? Why on earth should the federal government fund bike and walking trails? The federal government has no constitutional authority or right to steal money from the citizens of this country to use in this manner. When the US is spending 4T/yr and taking in 2T/yr, you need to cut spending by 2T/yr. Get it??

November 3, 2011
4:21 p.m.
wmarincic says...

If you want to walk, find a park. Why should I pay for you to walk? Will you pay for me to golf? No, so cut spending and we can get back on track financially in this country. I would rather see less walking trails than school programs that get cut, good grief, our kids are dumb enough, have you seen how they wear their pants?

November 4, 2011
10:24 a.m.
biwemple says...

I really think it has little to do with whether GOP likes bikes and trails here, it's that the Federal Government should not be too involved in building & funding sidewalks and bike trails in local communities. The Federal government should involve themselves in transportation projects around interstate commerce like bridges, highways, canals, ports and railways. While sidewalks and bike trails are good things, they really do not affect interstate commerce and should be projects funded at more State and local levels, not the Federal government.

November 4, 2011
3:13 p.m.
robbump says...

Not all walking or bicycling is done for recreation. For many of us, it is our transportation. wmarinic asks, "When your house is falling down around you, do you pave your driveway?" -- well no ... in Schenectady, we repave streets and do nothing about our already deteriorated sidewalks.

Even if the sidewalks, trails and bikeways DO get used recreationally, so what? Is EVERY trip driven in a car non-recreational? I'll bet wmarincic DRIVES to the golf-course, or maybe to the lake in the summer for some boating or picnics. (Why don't you just flap your jaws and FLY to the golf course?)

Every mile traveled without driving a car is easily 4.25 ounces of gas (based on 30mpg) not used, another car not further deteriorating our streets, a bit less pollutants in our air, and a better physical condition to the ped/cyclists who is less likely to be a burden on our health system with cardio-vascular problems.

Want to cut 25% of ped/bike projects? Go ahead, IF you cut 25% of ALL transportation projects.

albright1: "$900 million for bike trails and pedestrian amenities?" -- that's 2% of the budgeted $4.5 billion for roadway facilities. Please don't be naive enough to think your fuel taxes are paying for roads. Yes, there is a commerce need for roads, and a societal need as well - but as pointed out above, not every trip driven is to deliver goods to the market. All that support for recreational auto use is stealing money out of the pockets of those who aren't driving, if your argument about stealing is justified.

November 5, 2011
8:32 a.m.
albright1 says...

the federal funds should be used for the National Defense Highway the interstate highways and bridges that you are familiar with....all other roads and bridges, bike trails etc. should be funded with state and local money...driving to the store or golf course should and does have nothing to do with the federal government

November 5, 2011
5:55 p.m.
albright1 says...

I would also like to state that it is very frustrating that the only newspaper available with local news for the Schenectady area has a editorial board (assuming there is one) that would entitle an editorial "GOP doesn't like bikes" on the basis that two Senators believe that funding bike trails etc. is outside the scope of the federal government. It is the classic liberal MO. You don't have a good argument, so you disparage the character of your opponent.

November 5, 2011
9:26 p.m.
wmarincic says...

I have you to flap your ridiculous jaws and it got nobody anywhere.....

November 9, 2011
8:52 a.m.
robbump says...

And that's the TAXPAYER owed MUNI golf course you want us to pay for that you're going to play golf on, right?

Just a bit hypocritical and rediculous to want us to spend money on wholly-recreational golf when you don't want funds spent on items that are transportation.

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