Senator Bond (MO) Defends Bicycle Spending
September 11, 2007
Senator Kit Bond (MO) made a strong statement of support for federal bicycle funding yesterday, as the U.S. Senate debated an amendment to prohibit spending federal transportation funds on earmarks until all structurally deficient bridges in the United States are repaired.
Proposed by Senator Tom Coburn (OK), the amendment stated: "To prohibit the use of funds made available under this [2005 Tranportation] Act for bicycle paths so that the funds can be used to improve bridge and road safety."
Coburn attacked bike spending as unnecessary "pork" that diverts transportation funds to recreational activities:
Coburn: "This amendment says that for the $12 million to $18 million in this bill, which is not clear how much is actually for bicycle paths, we should not be spending money on bicycle paths for our own leisure, comfort, and exercise when we have bridges that are falling down. It is very straightforward. It prohibits funding bicycle paths until we have our bridges and highways in order. Through the years, we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on bicycle paths. It is great, it is fun, they are enjoyable, but it isn't as important for us to have fun and enjoyment as it is for [us to have safe bridges.]"
Senator Bond responded by defending bicycle project spending, as he cited its important role in our nation's transportation infrastructure:
Bond:"Mr. President, the reason we put in a barrier on this bridge between north Kansas City, a vibrant growing community, and, of course, the heart of Kansas City, MO, is that many people cross that bridge on foot and on bicycles. The traffic is getting so heavy that there is great danger to the pedestrians and bicycle riders. For those who like exercise and like conserving energy, many people commute between north Kansas City and Kansas City, MO, by foot or on bicycles. But for them to continue to do that, they need to be separated from the traffic.
"But if we are going to have bicyclists using roadways, please, let's put a barrier to separate the bicyclists and the pedestrians from the traffic. If we are talking about safety, I believe this is one of the easiest points to understand, and that is why I object so strongly to saying that any earmark we put in our States that deals with bicycles should be struck.
"Where is the sense in this body to tell the people of Kansas City and north Kansas City they cannot have a protected pedestrian and bicycle means of ingress and egress between north Kansas City and regular Kansas City? It makes so much sense that I really hate to bring it up. That is what this amendment would do. That is why I will strongly oppose the amendment."
We applaud Senator Bond for recognizing the benefits of bicycling, the importance of safe cycling facilities, and the need for continuing federal investment in bicycling. His arguments helped defeat the amendment by a solid margin of 80-18.
(Note: Senator Coburn's amendment called for the reallocation of $12 to $18 million in federal bicycling project earmarks. This money represents less than one percent of all federal transportation earmarks for fiscal year 2008.)