How stupid and petty are the Republicans? At Crooks & Liars, karoli explains:
The Obama administration has made bicycle lanes and safe streets a priority. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood is an avid cyclist who understands the benefits of safe pathways. As one who has nearly been run down by distracted drivers who inadvertently swerve into very narrow bike lanes, every improvement made is one that I view as a lifesaver somewhere to someone.
Enter Rep. John Mica, our new Republican transportation appropriations overlord. Yes, our tea party Congress has proposed killing all guaranteed funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Back in July, when the House was busily carving out all sorts of little green projects from the budget, Mica and his crew decided bicycle paths and walkways for pedestrians were just extras we don’t need. Luckily, the Senate had our backs and passed a clean funding extension, but the two bills have not been reconciled yet.
President Obama’s new jobs bill includes spending on infrastructure, and the Republicans were objecting even before the president’s speech.
The 10 percent set-asides in surface transportation funds are to build bike lanes like the one that is being built along the Mussel Shoals corridor to protect cyclists from being rear-ended by trucks going 45 miles per hour. Those 10 percent set-asides are used to build bicycle paths in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Those 10 percent set-asides enable people like me to continue NOT to own a car and rely on my bike and public transportation to get from point A to point B.
But as President of the League of American Bicyclists Andy Clarke wrote last week, Republicans were already trying to strip the transportation bill:
Senator Coburn (OK) has said he won’t agree to an extension unless funding for bike projects is stripped out. Representatives Boehner and Cantor have basically said the same thing in the House. Yes, folks, they are willing to hold the entire transportation program hostage – infrastructure spending and millions of real jobs – to get rid of bike projects.
Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved their extension bill. It’s clean. Most likely, Coburn will try to force a vote on the floor of the Senate next week to strip out the popular transportation enhancements program…which funds the lion’s share of bike and pedestrian projects around the country. So, if you’ve ridden on a bike trail or bike lanes, or used a bike rack on the front of a bus in the last few years…the chances are you’ve seen the program in action. And if Coburn, Cantor and Boehner succeed, we’ll see a dramatic drop-off in bicycling safety improvements.
And of course it’s about even more than bike safety. It’s yet another attack on the attempt to develop and encourage a cleaner, more responsible lifestyle in the face of the most important issue humanity has ever faced. This nation just went through its second hottest summer on record, and from filibustering to protect oil industry subsidies to endangering the safety of bicyclists, the Republicans are trying every means to protect the industries most responsible for causing climate change.