Posts Tagged ‘Rep. John Mica’

Petri dished

February 2, 2012

The Petri amendment to restore Transportation Enhancements to the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act has failed by just two votes, 29-27.

Arguments that walking and cycling are legitimate modes of transportation worthy of federal support fell on deaf ears in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

No funds for you!Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.), noting that his amendment was supported by the National Association of Realtors and the National Heart Association, said bike and pedestrian projects “add value to our neighborhoods” and provide “a balance to our national transportation program.”

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) added that increased walking and cycling would reduce congestion on American roads.

“This is not just throwing something out for recreation. This is truly transportation,” he said. “We have to recognize that we’re never going to build enough roads to accommodate everyone. We need to encourage people to be taking other forms of transportation.

But Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) said the cuts to bike-ped funding were “fundamental” to reforming the nation’s transportation program.

“Spending money on bike paths is nice, but it’s a community-based function,” he said. “It’s not for the federal government up here in Washington to tell states that they must spend these monies.”

Uh huh. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va), ranking Democrat on the committee, noted that the 845-page bill was introduced just a few days before markup and asked for those who had read the entire measure to raise their hands. Asked how many hands he saw, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) replied, “I can’t count that low.”

So just what is it that the federal government is supposed to do? Beyond straining at gnats and swallowing camels, that is?

• Results of the vote on the Petri amendment

Four wheels good, two wheels bad

February 1, 2012

This may astound you, but there are times when I fear that our elected representatives don’t have our best interests at heart.

Take Rep. John Mica (R-Big Oil). The American Energy and Infrastructure Act, scheduled to be marked up on Thursday by Mica’s House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has been described by Ben Goldman of as “a return to 1950s-style transportation policy” that is “particularly unkind to transit and bike/ped programs.”

No-bike routeAndy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists has penned a list of the top-10 problems with the proposed legislation, and I expect there are many more than 10.

Andy told my colleagues over at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News that the legislation undoes 20 years’ worth of progress made toward including cycling and walking in the national transportation plan.

“We were expecting the funding would be under attack but were surprised at how carefully they want to take bike/ped out of the bill altogether,” Clarke said. “There were sections of the bill that we didn’t know they knew existed. They’ve gone out of their way to attack the bike/ped portions.”

It truly boggles the mind. Self-described “conservatives” who don’t bat an eyelash at starting wars that run into the trillions of dollars take the greatest possible umbrage at the pennies required to create and maintain sidewalks, bike lanes and pedestrian/bicycle trails that provide safe havens for the folks who’d just as soon not crank up the family tank for short trips to school, shopping or work.

Jesse Prentice-Dunn of the Sierra Club told Streetsblog that the bill represents “a significant step backwards for safe biking and walking.”

“Today more than 12 percent of trips are made by foot or bike, yet less than 2 percent of our nation’s transportation funding goes towards biking and pedestrian infrastructure,” Prentice-Dunn continued.

“According to the Alliance for Biking and Walking, bike commuting increased 57 percent between 2000 and 2009. Instead of increasing investment in transportation options that Americans want, the House bill appears to funnel more dollars towards roads, further deepening our addiction to oil.”

Addicted to oil? Say it ain’t so! I’m certain the only reason we want to keep the Strait of Hormuz open is to defend the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.