On February 2, 2012, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Jean Schmidt & Bob Gibbs, two Ohio members of the House of Representatives, ticked off MILLIONS of Ohio cyclists – how? By voting to KILL funding for bike and pedestrian projects.
As many readers of this blog were aware, the Transportation bill pending in the House has become a political hot potato. There is a small slice of that bill which dramatically effects bicycling and pedestrian safety and bike/ped projects. This little slice was over-stated by Speaker Boehner on his blog. Boehner said taxpayer dollars are being “siphoned off” from transportation projects for “…non-economic projects – such as beautification and bike paths – which currently receive 25 percent of Highway Trust Fund expenditures…”
Wow… really Mr. B - 25% for bike paths – check your facts – that’s NUTS.
However, Reps. Schmidt and Gibbs, members of the key committee voting last week, voted with the Speaker and voted to KILL funding for bike/ped projects – all 1.6% of it.
Bicycle advocates have fought for many years to try to secure some federal recognition of the importance of cycling to society. Cutting emissions, reducing reliance on foreign oil, improving traffic conditions by cutting down on the number of cars on the roads, decreasing childhood obesity, increasing fitness, decreasing long term medical costs – these have all been cited to the House as rational reasons to support and encourage cycling.
The current Speaker, however, has decided to use “bike paths” as his poster child for misspending of transportation dollars – and in the process has alienated millions of Ohio cyclists…
Jean Schmidt is my House Rep. She’s had her issues, but I thought she might have some personal insight here. I’ve met Rep. Schmidt many times – mostly during trips to Washington for the National Bike Summit. She’s a runner and, in 2008, was smacked by a car while jogging. I wrote a long letter to Rep. Schmidt urging her to vote FOR an amendment to the bill which would bring bike/ped safety spending back into the bill – I never heard back from her - and found out the other day that she and Rep. Gibbs voted to KILL BIKE MONEY in the bill. The “Petri Amendment” failed … by 2 votes…
I don’t “do” politics here… usually… but this smacked of a much larger anti-bike bias which I have seen first-hand here in Ohio and now at the national level…Be READY for a FIGHT my friends….