It seems like every couple of weeks over the past year, some of our elected officials decide to tinker with things and put bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure funding in jeopardy. The League of American Bicyclists is sounding the alarm again about today’s announcement of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, introduced by John Mica (R-FL). As the LAB states in their email to us:
The proposed bill eliminates dedicated funding for bicycling and walking as we feared, and it goes much further and systematically removes bicycling from the Federal transportation program. It basically eliminates our status and standing in the planning and design of our transportation system — a massive step backwards for individuals, communities and our nation. It’s a step back to a 1950s highway- and auto-only program that makes no sense in the 21st century.
The bill reverses 20 years of progress by:
- destroying Transportation Enhancements by making it optional;
- repealing the Safe Routes to School program, reversing years of progress in creating safe ways for kids to walk and ride bicycles to school;
- allowing states to build bridges without safe access for pedestrians and bicycles;
- eliminating bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs; and
- eliminating language that insures that rumble strips “do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians or the disabled.”
On Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee will mark-up the bill and Representatives Petri (R-WI) and Johnson (R-IL) will sponsor an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School. Representatives Petri and Johnson can only be successful if everyone with a stake in safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways contacts their representative today.
The LAB has created a handy letter and contact tool so you can voice your concerns with your representative(s). Simply click on the Capwiz link, enter your zipcode and the system generates an editable letter for you.
Make your voice be heard…while we understand that the Federal Government cannot be expected to pay for everything, and that the states should be responsible for the bulk of bike/ped infrastructure, this proposed Act sets a dangerous precedent that jeopardizes decades of progress.
There are a few bike-related news stories in the news that we wanted to share with you:
1) Long Beach is aiming to become the most bicycle-friendly city in America. The article at The Atlantic Cities illustrates the achievements and future plans of Long Beach in making good on this proclamation. You may recall that we visited Long Beach back in 2008 for their Bike-To-Work Day. Also, former BC writer Russ Roca took photos of Long Beach’s bike share program when it launched in 2008. Take a look at those here.
2) Fullerton, CA to get a bike-sharing system…this one’s near and dear to our hearts as the West Coast HQ of Bikecommuters.com is in Fullerton. Currently, the city is seeking bids from contractors for a pilot installation of 150 bikes at 15 stations around the city. Details can be found at the OC Register.
3) A need for a bigger tax subsidy for bike commuters — here’s one that popped up in the Google newsfeed the other day — a comment on TaxProf Blog that links to an article in the St. Louis University Law Journal. If the Federal Government can encourage more people to use two wheels to get to work, I’m all for it…and the paltry tax break employers can currently (but don’t have to) offer is hardly enticing.
4) Most of you already know that we love “Portland East”, or “MPLS”, or The Mini Apple…we’ve mentioned something positive about their bike scene about once a month ’round these parts. Well, there’s more good news coming from the city…take a look at the D.C. Streetsblog’s coverage of Minneapolis’s first ever “Bicycle Account”, a compilation of cycling data.
Alright, that should give most of you a good bit of reading for the day. Enjoy!
Twice this week on my bike commutes home I have found myself humming a random tune. Each time the tune was one I had invented and made up as I rode along, yet both times I ended up singing this oldies tune:
Bobby Darin’s Dream Lover.
Biking usually clears my mind. As daily bike commuter Phil Day from Chicago’s PBS station WTTW said in this updated segment about winter biking: “All you think about is what’s right in front of you.” ….and nothing else matters.
He’s right. Yet I often find my mind straying to random tunes or to thoughts of the tasks I have to do or any other number of meanderings. Most of the time the thoughts are fleeting and gone by the time I arrive at my destination.
Unfortunately all it takes is one such thought to distract me and cause a split second of lost focus. In fact just last week I nearly wiped out when my front wheel evidently caught a crevice in the road and I found myself suddenly struggling to recover my balance and stay upright…. My mind had wandered to my work “to do” list and thoughts about the impending winter weather and pondering just how frozen the roads felt below my bike tires; my last thought before I was in recovery mode was “it would probably really hurt to go down on this frozen ground”. One moment and one bad move = a close call.
We’ve posted about making such mistakes in the past and I even alerted cyclists to stay alert back when I was profiled (I could use some of my own advice sometimes).
Yet, I will continue to daydream, hopefully not about what I have to do at work that day or what I have to do when I get home. RL has listed all of his random thoughts while bike commuting. I’ll just keep singing wistful songs to myself. Who needs an iPod and headphones when I can entertain myself? In winter, I don’t even have to worry about someone in a car hearing my off-key humming; their windows are closed up tight.
What do you “muse” about during your bike riding commutes?
Fellow bike commuters: We’ll be calling this and future such posts “Friday Musings”. Every once in a while on a Friday we’ll post some light-hearted musing for your TGIF enjoyment. (kind of reminds me of the concept of “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey“)
The Alliance for Biking and Walking just published their 2012 Benchmarking Report. As reported in the Los Angeles Times:
[The report] provides a look at commuting by cycling and walking in the U.S., how safe those commutes are, and where transportation funding is going — or not going — to promote these alternative means of local travel.
The report ranked states and cities on bicycling and walking levels (how many people commute by bike or foot) as well as fatality rates. Boston had the highest level of such commutes, and Fort Worth, Texas, the lowest. Vermont and Boston had the fewest fatalities and Florida and Fort Worth the most.
Some more brief (and sobering) highlights:
From 2000 to 2009, bicycling commuters in the U.S. rose by 57%. But the largest 51 cities in the country saw an average 29% increase in bicycle fatalities since the group released its 2010 report. That number may change if the planned 20,908 miles of bike facilities and 7,079 miles of pedestrian facilities across the country are funded.
It can be dangerous out there for those who travel by bike or foot: 12% of trips in the U.S. are taken via cycling or walking, but 14% of those involved in fatal traffic accidents are bicyclists and pedestrians.
Read the LA Times article by clicking here, visit the Alliance website here, or download the full (242 pages, 24MB) report by clicking here.
Our friends over at Bike Jax put up an interesting parody video about the sad state of bike infrastructure in the city of Jacksonville, Florida:
Hitler Advocates Bicycling in Jacksonville from Abhishek Mukherjee on Vimeo.
You may not identify with Hitler as a bike advocate, but if you’re a Florida resident, you can certainly identify with the anger and frustration at a state that simply falters when it comes to workable, intelligent bicycle infrastructure.
In other Bike Jax news, the 1st Annual Bike Jax Tweed Ride will be taking place on Sunday, March 4th:
Full details at the Jax Tweed Ride page.