Transportation Bill Extended for Six Months with Bike/Ped Funding

The Senate passed an extension of the Transportation Bill yesterday (Sept. 15, 2011) with a margin of 92-6. All current transportation funding and programs, including funding for cycling and pedestrian projects, will continue for six months.

I happened to be in the right place at the right time: at Interbike, near the Bikes Belong booth when they got the news. Executive Director, Tim Blumenthal came bouncing jubilantly to the booth high-fiving all of the Bikes Belong staff members. He even offered me a high five, which I awkwardly declined because I didn’t yet know what all the celebrating was about.

It was about the removal of the amendment from Senator Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, which would have blocked funding for just about anything that didn’t benefit cars.

Blumenthal said that a six-month extension was not only a reprieve for cycling and pedestrian projects.

[I]t makes it more difficult for him or anyone else to come back with the same kind of message.

His message was this government running this deficit can’t afford cost-effective investments in bicycling; every dollar needs to be put into roadway construction and roadway repair.

But we know that four billion bike trips are made a year here in the United States. And we’re talking about 13 percent of the trips that Americans make are either on foot or by bike, and only requires one point five percent of the money to support them, so it’s very cost effective. It’s real transportation. This is a solution. Individuals who ride bikes save money. Governments at every level save money when people ride bikes.

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12 thoughts on “Transportation Bill Extended for Six Months with Bike/Ped Funding”

  1. BluesCat says:

    Ya got the names of those six villains, Ted? I’ll bet our (Arizona’s) John McCain was one of ’em, eh?

    I feel another email coming on which will no doubt elevate me on McCain’s Bike Terrorist list!

  2. Tom Bowden says:

    You bet wrong, BluesCat – see The nays were:

    Coburn (R-OK)
    DeMint (R-SC)
    Johnson (R-WI)
    Lee (R-UT)
    Paul (R-KY)
    Toomey (R-PA)

    Not saying he won’t do differently on re-auth in 6 months, but fair is fair and preconceived notions of where people stand or how they will vote are never useful, from either side, IMHO.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      I think it’s one thing to second guess how a politician has voted based on his previous positions, statements, and record. It’s another thing to second guess based on party affiliation.

      There are 47 Republicans in the Senate. That means 41 did vote for the extension.

  3. Isn’t it odd that only 13% of trips Americans make are on foot or bicycle? That explains quite of bit regarding the health and fitness of American people. ugh…

  4. BluesCat says:

    Wow, thanks, Tom.

    McCain took a lambasting from some of his constituents at a town hall he held a month or so ago. Folks were REALLY displeased with the fact that some of his actions hurt jobs creation in Arizona rather than help it. I’ll bet that’s why both he and Kyl voted for this extension: keeps a bunch of important airport projects going in our state.

    Notice that the nays are uniformly Republican. It figures.

  5. Jim DeMint! Does he realize that bike infrastructure (the wonderful Swamp Rabbit Trail) is just one of the jewels that makes downtown Greenville, SC shine and attracts urban planners from all over the country just to come and bask in its loveliness. It’s in his hometown! Wonder what Mayor Knox White thinks about that? Just sayin’. Oh, well, I’ve heard he wasn’t the brightest bulb.

    Paul might want to consider that Louisville is gonna need that the Big Four pedestrian and bike bridge over the Ohio since it looks like the Sherman Minton will be closed for quite a while.

  6. Steve A says:

    Considering the relative amounts of dollars, it seems like most of the Senate voted to build more car facilities. Personally, I think cyclists would be better served if the tap were turned off for a while, until a rational discussion could begin. Cyclists could certainly wait longer than the motorists…

    In the final analysis, we have enough roads to commute by bike. What is the offer for us to support anything more?

  7. Tom Bowden says:

    BluesCat – selective use of statistics can be very misleading. I am reminded of the old joke about a race between a Russian and an American. The American won. Pravda and Tass accurately reported the results “Russian takes Second! American – Next to last!”

  8. Gene @ BU says:

    “Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, the ranking member on the committee, voted for the clean four-month extension, saying it will buy the time needed to craft the two-year bill. He says he won’t support Sen. Tom Coburn’s push to kill transportation enhancement funding, which includes bicycle and pedestrian projects – for now. But when it comes to the two-year bill, Inhofe would like to say goodbye to all bike/ped projects.

    “I’m all for totally cutting the transportation enhancement funding,” he said in an interview with Streetsblog. “I’ve talked to Senator Boxer about it and I think we can come up with something where we do away with those enhancements.”

  9. BluesCat says:

    Tom – It ain’t statistics … it’s more like poker: I’m betting the guy across the table from me — the one wearing the “Reagan Was God” button — refuses to play with Bicycle brand cards.

  10. Bob P says:

    Why does the federal government control state and local spending? It would seem that getting transportation decisions and funding out of their hands would allow local areas to tax and spent what they want for infrastructure.

  11. BluesCat says:

    Bob P. – Because if it WERE left to the states, those 48 contiguous fiefdoms would have our nationwide transportation system in a confusing, disjointed and inefficient mess; it would take forever to get products to market by truck, increasing costs for EVERYBODY.

    Without a federal transportation program, the only six-lane, 70 mph paved roads you’d have in the entire country would be from rich-guy’s-house-to-rich-guy’s-house over on the East Coast. (The same type of thing you have in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia.)

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