Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on March 22nd, 2010 at 9:50 am
(Photo: Ethan Jewett/Stickeen)
Congress passed an historic piece of health care legislation last night. Will the vote lead to a strengthened Obama Administration that’s able to take on other big issues? Will the passage of health care melt some of the glacial gridlock in Washington?
Having just been in the capitol a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but wonder how this political milestone might impact another important issue — the overhaul of our nation’s transportation system. Like our health care system, our current transportation infrastructure leaves millions without coverage and many Americans are denied access to safe mobility options because of existing conditions.
We need to reform how the federal government allocates money for transportation projects and we need the Obama Administration to match their rhetoric with real, concrete legislation that makes it easier to build bike-friendly communities.
America has been unable to break the status quo of auto-centric spending and priorities since the dawn of the automobile age. Will Obama use his Democratic majority and this big win on health care to reform transportation and herald a new age where all Americans — no matter what type of vehicle they operate — have safe and equal access to our roads?
His Transportation Secretary sure seems up for the challenge.
[Remember those halcyon days back in May 2008 Obama proclaimed during a campaign stop in Portland that our “bicycle lanes” are the “kind of solution that we need for America!”?]
Many people understand that the current transportation system — both in how we fund it and how we build it — doesn’t work. But as we saw with the extreme partisanship shown thus far on bike-related legislation, and as we witnessed in the divisive debate on health care, it takes more more than knowing a problem exists for change to happen in Washington.
What do you think? Are the chances for transportation reform better today that they were before the health care vote?