A historical election this week, and bicyclists should be reminded that regardless of our political leanings, come January, there will be someone in the top office who has spoken in favor of general infrastructure improvement not only to bridges and highways, but also to transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities:
If we are going to solve our energy problems we’ve got to think long term. It’s time for us to be serious about investing in alternative energy. It’s time for us to get serious about raising fuel efficiency standards on cars. It’s time that the entire country learned from what’s happening right here in Portland with mass transit and bicycle lanes and funding alternative means of transportation.
Time will tell whether economic realities and the vagaries of the process allow this to become reality. I would offer this, though: pumping billions of dollars into economic institutions operating on Gordon Gekko’s ideology may not provide any better chance of long term benefit than passing out $600 checks to every American did.
What will, then? How about reinvestment in our infrastructure? How about moving forward with alternative transportation modes and providing real funding? Surveys have suggested that Americans support spending on these projects, but the reality is that 79% of transportation dollars go to roads, 20% to transit and 1% to walking and bicycling. Contrast with what Americans would like to see (see figure) and there is a vast disparity.
So stay tuned, as the next stimulus package may include some of this and if not, the renewal of the Transportation Bill is coming in 2009, and we will be watching closely to see whether the words translate into deeds.