Earl Blumenthal, a Congressman from Oregon, writes a superb memo to the nation on the Huffington Post, about the GOP's all too successful attempt to strip funding for bicycle paths from the economic stimulus package. The whole post is worthy of your attention, but here's the gist:
Republicans have once again demonstrated how out of touch they
are with their pathologically short-sighted attacks on bicycles. To
their detriment, they are continuing their trend from last Congress of
using the most economical, energy-efficient, and healthy forms of
transportation as their whipping post. Investment in bike paths will
not only improve our economy, and take our country in the right
direction for the future; it is exactly the kind of investment the
American people want.
Moreover, bicycle and pedestrian paths are precisely the kind of
infrastructure projects our country needs. These projects tend to the
most "shovel-ready" and are more labor-intensive than other projects–
therefore putting more people to work per dollar spent.
We might have understood these attacks a decade ago, but today they
ignore the explosion of bicycling in this country in recent years that
has been nothing short of phenomenal. There are tens of millions of
American cyclists and even more who want their children to be able to
bike and walk to school safely and therefore support bicycle and
pedestrian infrastructure projects.
Blumenthal goes on to quantify what a difference just a tiny amount more bicycling could make:
Nationally, if we doubled the current 1% of all trips by bike to 2%, we
would collectively save more 693 million gallons of gasoline – that's
more than $5 billion dollars – each year. From 2007 – 2008, bicyclists
reduced the amount Americans drive by 100 million miles.
In Los Angeles, a project to create a bike path the length of the Los Angeles River is underway, backed by city and Federal funding, and it's shockingly nice…and could be spectacular. It's also the sort of shovel-ready project that supposedly the nation is looking for. Here's a pic from the local site: