By spokesman | February 9, 2009
In the debate over the economic stimulus bill, bicycling has become a hot topic. The House version of the bill included funding for bicycle paths. An amendment proposed in the Senate would specifically prohibit funding for bicycle related projects. In response, Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregan wrote a piece on the Huffington Post touting the economic benefits of biking. Below I have included a statement from the League of American Bicyclists trying to build a grass roots effort to fight the anti-bicycling amendment. I have also included an excerpt from Representative Blumenauer’s article. The economic benefits sighted in his article are impressive.
From the League of American Bicyclists - “Senator DeMint (R-SC) has offered an amendment to the stimulus bill to SPECIFICALLY prohibit funding for bicycles, walking and offroad vehicles. The amendment ONLY goes after bicycle, walking, and offroad vehicle funding. The Amendment has been offered but not introduced. We do not have a schedule for when this will be introduced and voted on, but we need to alert all Senators to urge them to vote against such amendments and ensure that funding for bicycle infrastructure remain eligible under the transportation funds provided in the stimulus package. “
From Representative Blumenauer’s article on bicycling - “Recent transportation surveys indicate that 52% of Americans want to bike more than they do now - but don’t, because of the lack of safe and connected bicycle facilities.
Think about it: More than 50% of working Americans live less than 5 miles from work, an easy bicycle commute. Already more than 490,000 Americans bike to work; in Portland, 8% of downtown workers are bicycle commuters. Individually, they are saving $1,825 in auto-related costs, reducing their carbon emissions by 128 pounds per year, saving 145 gallons of gasoline, avoiding 50 hours of being stuck in traffic, burning 9,000 calories, reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke by 50%, and enjoying 14% fewer claims on their health insurance.
Nationally, if we doubled the current 1% of all trips by bike to 2%, we would collectively save more 693 million gallons of gasoline - that’s more than $5 billion dollars - each year. From 2007 - 2008, bicyclists reduced the amount Americans drive by 100 million miles.”
While investments in bicycle paths won’t solve all of our economic woes, I have seen the benefit in my local area. The Capital Crescent Trail and the W&OD are two local rail trails. While they are used by many recreational riders, the number of commuters are impressive. Both paths provide safe bicycling routes from suburban locations to job centers. On a workday morning, you see a steady flow of bicycle commuters, each one representing a car that has been taken off of the road.
For more information on the stimulus bill and bicycling, look at the new blog Stimulus Bike. The blog provides the latest news and also has links to related petitions so you can influence the legislation.