Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Balancing Act: Bike + Ped Funding on the Line (again)

Heard the news lately? Some of the folks up in Washington have decided that they'd like to cut funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

I read a brief email from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) about the issue. I wanted to learn more, so I visited the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals (APBP) website. APBP is an organization for those involved with promoting, planning, policies, programs, etc. that have to do with pedestrians or bicyclists. You can choose to officially join the organization (pretty inexpensive, in the world of professional memberships).

What's going on, you may ask? Key members of the Senate and of the House have voiced their opposition to bicycle and walking funding. House Chairman Mica (R-FL) announced that his Transportation bill will eliminate all dedicated funding for bike/ped projects:  Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancement funds and the Recreational Trails program. In the Senate, Senator J. Inhofe (R-OK) who is key negotiator, has stated that getting rid of funding for these projects is one of his TOP THREE priorities. I really hope that the men and women that we elect to represent us can see how bicycle and pedestrian projects have benefited folks across South Carolina (and beyond!).

APBP has a great article on how this proposed cut in funding appears to go against the grain of growing acceptance and interest in bicycle and pedestrian programs across the country. They state the importance of these programs in support of the economy, job growth, public health, community development, recreation and public support. If there is growing interest in these programs, then why is this on the chopping block? Same thing happened last summer, as budgets were tight then, too. I am upset, though, because investing in bicycle and pedestrian programs promotes the use of more sustainable (financial, environmental, economical, the list goes on....) activities. (There has recently been several studies about the link between bikeways and job growth.) What harm is there in building more routes, systems and networks that enables people of all ages and abilities to get around without having to invest in a car, be at the whim of a bus system and/or be at the mercy of the gas pump? Additionally, this blog has kept up with the active, growing bicycle plan, programs and networks in just the Upstate of South Carolina. What about the rest of the country?

If you'd like to take this a step further than educating yourself (and your friends), contact your congressmen/women. Tell them, politely, how you feel and why you feel that way. The APBP article does provide a quick, handy way to contact your representatives via the world wide web (which I did). Although, I've heard that a written, snail-mail letter is better, please consider contacting them either way.

Keep your eyes and ears posted for more. Contact your representatives. And keep biking!

No comments:

Post a Comment