Cycling, a mode of transport near and dear to us carectomy-patients, has been coming under some peculiarly intense fire from our government lately. I’m not sure exactly why the Democrat’s transportation bill is taking flak for including a paltry $1million to support cycling, or why U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters(above) decided to pick on cycling as an illegitimate form of transportation. Who in the administration drafted the memo that said: Vilify Cycling?
First, on August 9th, freshman U.S. Representative (R, North Carolina) had this to say about the Dem’s transportation bill:
"A major component of the Democrats’ energy legislation and the Democrats’ answer to our energy crisis is, hold on, wait one minute, wait one minute, it is promoting the use of the bicycle.
Oh, I cannot make this stuff up. Yes, the American people have heard this. Their answer to our fuel crisis, the crisis at the pumps, is: Ride a bike.
Democrats believe that using taxpayer funds in this bill to the tune of $1 million a year should be devoted to the principle of: "Save energy, ride a bike.” Some might argue that depending on bicycles to solve our energy crisis is naive, perhaps ridiculous. Some might even say Congress should use this energy legislation to create new energy, bring new nuclear power plants on line, use clean coal technology, energy exploration, but no, no. They want to tell the American people, stop driving, ride a bike. This is absolutely amazing.
Apparently, the Democrats believe that the miracle on two wheels that we know as a bicycle will end our dependence on foreign oil. I cannot make this stuff up. It is absolutely amazing.
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the Democrats, promoting 19th century solutions to 21st century problems. If you don’t like it, ride a bike. If you don’t like the price at the pumps, ride a bike.
Stay tuned for the next big idea for the Democrats: Improving energy efficiency by the horse and buggy."
Keep in mind that the portion of the proposed $14 billion transportation bill was $1 million. Not exactly the “major component” that McHenry claims. As the D.C. Cycling Advocacy group Washcycle states, “[The amount] is a trifling (though 8 times more than Christmas ornaments for the ‘Perfect Christmas Tree’).”
Several days later, on August 15th, Secretary Peters gave an interview on PBS’s "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" to rail against museums, lighthouses, bike paths, and trails. Apparently these fringe-causes are taking too much money away from important things. Like highways, which clearly need a greater piece of the pie. In effect, Peters was saying that bikes are not infrastructure and by extension, not transportation. It’s one thing when local cops don’t realize that bicycles are, in fact, “vehicles” and have a right to the road. It’s quite another when these words come from the Secretary of Transportation! Scary words indeed.
Salon.com hypothesizes that Peters’ words are aimed at derailing a proposed gas tax increase. However, it’s speeches like those given by Peters and McHenry that continue the all-too-American model of SUV’s, urban sprawl, obesity, diabetes, and a huge disconnect between people and their environment.
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