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'A New Direction'? U.S. House releases transportation bill proposal

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 7th, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Cover of the proposal.

Stay tuned for lots of scrutiny and action alerts from transportation advocacy groups — the U.S. House of Representatives has just released their long awaited proposal for the reauthorization of our nation's transportation bill.

And, despite 12% of our nation's trips being made by bicycling or walking, the proposal cuts dedicated funding to programs like Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and others on the grounds that they are "do not serve a national interest."

The proposal (download it below) was developed in the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which is controlled by Republicans and Chaired by Rep. John Mica (R-FL).

U.S. House T & I hearing-28
Rep. John Mica, Chairman
of the House T & I Committee.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Mica's bill touts an "end to bureaucracy, red tape and wasteful programs." To stabilize the Highway Trust Fund the proposal would authorize $230 billion over the next six years — an amount that's 30% less over six years than the current transportation.

The proposal calls an increase in the gas tax "not fiscally responsible or realistic."

The chapter on "Program Reform & Reducing the Size of Government" says that 70 (out of 100) existing programs that "do not serve a national interest" would be eliminated. In addition to the programs mentioned above, the proposal would also eliminate the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program. The NTPP was a cornerstone of the previous transportation bill and it provided $25 million to four communities to develop bicycling and walking facilities.

An image (and theme)
from the proposal.

The proposal also removes the requirement for states to spend highway funding on "non-highway activities" — which one can assume mean off-highway bicycling facilities. Instead, the bill gives states more flexibility to make spending choices themselves. This could turn out well for a pro-biking state like Oregon, but not so well in places where bicycling doesn't have a respected seat at the table.

States would get more than 90% of Federal Highway Program funding to spend at their own discretion; however, the proposal makes it clear that the flexibility comes with a new set of "performance measures and transparency requirements."

In summary, the proposal states that "nearly all" Federal Highway Program funding will go to states through programs designed to "preserve existing highways, build new highway capacity, and address congestion, freight mobility, and highway safety."

On rail transportation, the House proposal would cut 25% from Amtrak's federal operating subsidy and it eliminates a $100 million a year Intercity Passenger Rail grants program.

The proposal opens the chapter on transit programs with the ominous line, "The federal transit programs must do more with less." It would also remove existing barriers in order to allow more private corporations to offer public transit services.

There wasn't one mention of bicycling or non-motorized transportation (other than the part about eliminating that pilot project).

Not surprisingly, strong reactions to Mica's proposal are already coming in from national bike advocacy groups. The League of American Bicyclists has already issued an action alert to members, saying,

"Mica's 'New Direction' proposal in fact turns the clock back on decades of hard-fought progress towards a truly multi-modal transportation system that offers American's real choices. Even with a 'small' bill, returning to a 1950's highways-only mentality flies in the face of fiscal responsibility by guaranteeing more single occupant vehicle travel on ever more congested and dangerous highways that we can't even afford to maintain, let alone build....

"The League calls on Chairman Mica to reinstate dedicated funding for bicycling and walking in his bill. We also ask that the Senate resist the efforts of Senator Inhofe eliminate dedicated funding for bicycling and walking."

This is just the first step in what will surely be a long reauthorization process. Stay tuned for more coverage.

— Download the 22 page proposal here (PDF)

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Comments
  • Oliver July 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    "A New Direction" This is going to be the highway version of the "Clear Skies Act"

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  • Andycigarettes July 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Oh great. Yeah, cut Amtrak, too. They operate splendidly as is. A new direction being...driving cars like we always have?

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  • BURR July 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    forward into the past

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  • captainkarma July 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    When are people going to start getting mad. No really. Corporate insider bankers get billions (yes billions) to avoid self-inflicted collapse. Don't even get me started on war spending. We are allowing ourselves to be eaten from the inside out. This is what happens when citizens become comfortably numb.

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    • Joe Rowe July 8, 2011 at 8:26 am

      Hey CaptainK, email me. There's a grass roots group of 135 people in Portland called AROW. I'm one of the mad members who's attempting to push our lawmakers to spend less on war and poorly designed freeways. My current plan is to get Rep. Blumenauer to say it's good if we have a debate on the CRC and common sense alternative. I might even organize a mock debate if the pro CRC folks boycott. jrowe(att)) igc.org

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  • BURR July 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Just skimmed the document. holy crap that is one stinking piece of tea party propaganda.

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    • captainkarma July 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks for sayin' it for me.

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  • beth h July 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    the proposal cuts dedicated funding to programs like Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and others on the grounds that they are "do not serve a national interest."

    **********

    Propping up the dinosaur that is the automobile industry IS the national interest. Sorry, guys. More jobs still rely upon the auto and petroleum industries than upon any other industry; and I sure didn't need the Big Three Bailout or any of the other ham-handed ideas of the last three years to remind me of that reality.

    Dinosaurs take a very long time to die.

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  • captainkarma July 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    It's interesting that there are zero cars on the freeways depicted on the cover of the proposal.

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    • BURR July 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm

      all of the illustrations were carefully selected to illustrate the points they are trying to make.

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      • Chris I July 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm

        What a croc. I'm so glad that the republicans are looking to the 1950s for their "New Direction". These idiots can't retire fast enough.

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  • Biking Viking July 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    How does this work? Will this legislation get watered down by the Senate into something more palatable?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      Well, there are three branches of gov't and the House is just one of them. The Senate will have a whack it it and then of course the Obama Administration will weigh in. We're far from the finish line, but this is definitely an important step and the public reaction to it will set the tone.

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      • Schrauf July 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm

        Well, House and Senate are both Legislative Branch, but yes, the bill will be modified a hundred times before making its way to the Executive Branch. Not necessarily for the better.

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      • kww July 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm

        My expectation is that the Senate will nueter this bill. Just pray that the Senate isn't taken over by the Republicans in 2012.

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  • Robert Ping July 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Jon, thanks for posting on this major development! The Safe Routes to School Partnership is also taking action on this today, as are many other bicycle and pedestrian groups around the US.

    The House isn't the only place we have to worry, either, since Senator Inhofe from Oklahoma said last week one of his top 3 priorities is eliminating funding for biking and walking. They are pushing hard to keep it bipartisan in the Senate so we are concerned that he has sway.

    The numbers are even worse in the Mica/House bill summary, since Mica’s bill would be significantly less than SAFETEA-LU – about a 30% decrease to $230 billion over 6 years, and greater portions of the federal highway program funding will be dedicated to the national highway system (50%) leaving less money for states to spend on their own surface transportation priorities.

    So even Oregon will have to make choices about what to spend on - don't count on ODOT to maintain all of its current bike/ped and Safe Routes to School spending levels without at least cuts...

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  • Case July 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    "The proposal calls an increase in the gas tax "not fiscally responsible or realistic."

    -More like not electorally responsible from the guy representing Florida where there's no Ride to Work Day but instead a Drive Your Bike to Work Day.

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  • Tony Jordan July 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    More and more I think the Tea Party has it right, for the wrong reasons. Let's get rid of all federal taxes for transportation and get rid of all transportation funding from the federal government. Then we can raise our taxes locally and on a state by state basis and pay for our own infrastructure.

    Stop paying for freeways in Arkansas and build a west coast high speed rail line.

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    • jim July 7, 2011 at 9:08 pm

      Are you going to build a high speed raiway after amtrack fails and goes away? How would a high speed rail make enough money to survive? Ticket prices would make it too expensive for blue collars to ride it.

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  • Evan July 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    How is it in the "national interest" to force complete and total reliance on foreign oil for a functional transportation SYSTEM? Yes, we do produce some oil but not enough to mandate a system that depends on it for virtually all travel.

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  • eljefe July 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    The cover image pairs nicely with the retro thinking--it look like it was made with 1950's photographic technology

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  • Joe Rowe July 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    This report seems authored by a middle school student. It's a bunch of slogans. It lacks data. The cover was stolen off the internet from websites that no regard for copyright.

    http://www.deskbeauty.net/r-vista-wallpaper-21-longhorn-stay-the-course-bliss-2516.htm

    http://vistawallpapers.wordpress.com/2007/03/09/vista-wallpapers-various-4/vista-wallpaper-stay-the-course/

    use a google image search: stay the course

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    • BW July 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      Ha, ha! Great find. Just goes to show the kind of effort and thought this crowd puts into governing the country.

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      • Joe Rowe July 7, 2011 at 9:05 pm

        Ha ha. Thanks. The irony is just too deep here >>> "stay the course" and "a new direction" <<< The report is really about going backwards in transit methods. I love the fictional empty freeway.

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        • Zmapper July 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm

          I love how the picture is taken facing the opposite direction on the freeway, with the I-10 sign turned around. Way to really show how you are going backwards!

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  • Mark Kaepplein July 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Bicyclists need user fees to participate in funding, much like transit riders pay user fees (fares). Increasing transportation costs, via gas tax or oil price hikes have a strong recessionary impact on the economy, hence opposed, not to benefit fat cats or sheiks. Inadequate transportation infrastructure to meet demand already cripples our economy and raises the price of food, clothing, staples, everything.

    "The foundation of the nation’s system for funding highway and transit projects is the Highway Trust Fund. User fees — gas taxes — are deposited into the Trust Fund and distributed to states and transit agencies by formula." (p. 5 of the pdf)

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    • Oliver July 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      The transportation infrastructure is inadequate due to underinvestment over the last 50 years because those that benefit most from it (notice I did not say most reliant) are not paying enough for it.

      This argument has been made over and over. The portion I pay though my general taxes more than covers my use and impact.

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    • Randall S. July 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      Fun fact: we already have them. Why do you think people who ride bicycles don't pay taxes?

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    • Chris I July 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      Cyclists pay more than their fair share. The majority of local road spending comes from non-user fees, which we all pay. Bicycles induce a small fraction (less than 1%) of the road wear that a car creates. Google it. We're saving the city money.

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      • Mark Kaepplein July 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm

        While driving or cycling our taxes are helping to fund public transit we aren't using at that moment. What is the marginal cost of a passenger on a city bus, subway car, or rail car? Likely about as much as a bicyclist, motorcyclist, or compact car on the road, yet fares are collected from users to support the expensive infrastructure. Cyclists are not paying into the Highway Trust Fund. They are only paying in general taxes supplementing the fund.

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        • 9watts July 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm

          Mark,

          some more for you to ponder: http://moderntransit.org/cashout/vta-request.html

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          • Mark Kaepplein July 7, 2011 at 6:33 pm

            Interesting but then encourages employers to flee out where there isn't this regulation, public transit, nor bikeable/walkable commutes. Parking needs subsidy at transit stations to increase ridership and decrease road congestion. Funding could come from the property taxes employers already pay for their employee parking spaces.

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        • Chris I July 8, 2011 at 8:01 am

          You don't seem to understand... the highway trust fund exists to maintain and construct highways. More and more, it is being used for maintenance rather than expansion. And they are not expanding highways to accommodate bicycles. Why should cyclists pay a tax for highway expansion that is not intended for them. And why should cyclists pay a tax when bikes induce less than 1% of the damage that cars induce, given that more than 1% of the highway trust fund comes from general funds?

          http://subsidyscope.org/transportation/highways/funding/state/

          Pay close attention to the "non-user revenues" portion. Cyclists pay more than their fair share because they are taxpayers and they induce a minuscule amount of damage on the roads.

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          • Mark Kaepplein July 8, 2011 at 8:46 am

            I get it. I should jump the subway turnstile because I add virtually no cost to the train traveling anyway. Cyclists display teen attitudes in both funding and riding. States and some cities collect gas taxes (user fees). Fed and state user fees are applied to many roads cyclists use. Most (2x) federal "highways" are undivided and used by cyclists. Unless you still have a paper route or rickshaw bike, bicycles don't move goods (hence imperceptible road wear).

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          • wsbob July 8, 2011 at 10:30 am

            "...I get it. I should jump the subway turnstile because I add virtually no cost to the train traveling anyway. ..." Mark Kaepplein

            Why don't you think you add virtually no cost to the train traveling anyway? In using the subway, passengers generally occupy the space required to stand on two feet or take up one seat on the train. In terms of the train's construction, weight variances between passengers isn't significant. If you're a subway passenger jumping the turnstiles, you're a fare cheater.

            In contrast, people willing and able to ride bikes for transportation, actually save the nation's taxpayers money, simply by taking up far less space on the road than do single occupancy vehicles. Overwhelming use of single occupancy motor vehicles is a prime source of highway congestion, and the reason ideas about making freeways bigger and wider...even though it's basically a lost cause...are ongoing.

            Communities would be generally a lot more livable, with road infrastructure that might be less expensive to maintain, if so much roadwork hadn't been dedicated to use by motor vehicles.

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          • Tacoma July 8, 2011 at 10:54 am

            From wsbob's comment: "Communities would be generally a lot more livable, with road infrastructure that might be less expensive to maintain, if so much roadwork hadn't been dedicated to use by motor vehicles."

            This is the idea that some of our leaders (as well as many in the general populace) are not wanting to explore or understand. That and the idea that motor vehicle use is "subsidized" - that those using motor vehicles do not pay the full "cost" of the ramifications of their use.

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          • Mark Kaepplein July 8, 2011 at 11:22 am

            By jumping the turnstile, I am doing a service by not driving, taking a car off the road! Sound familiar? BTW, far more people carpool even, than bicycle to/from work! Yet, we see disproportionately more bike racks than carpool parking spots...

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          • Tacoma July 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

            Thank you for your question, MK. No, you are "doing a service by not driving" through use of the subway. By jumping the turnstile, you are a "fare cheater". But you probably already knew that.

            Assuming that they pay some kind of tax (income,sales,property) into the general fund, cyclists pay their fair share (of roads and streets) but without getting the full benefit. In fact, if you care to search, bikeportland has commented on and posted numerous links to studies about how motor vehicle use is subsidized by people that don't use them.

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        • Alan 1.0 July 8, 2011 at 2:14 pm

          Perhaps Mark's point is that intra-urban public transit should run on the "fareless square" principal. That would help appropriately redistribute the the 35% subsidy that automobile users receive for their use of federal highways (& more for local roads).

          Judging by Mark's blog, I don't think that's his point.

          Just because public transit users are getting charged twice for the same thing car users only get charged once for is not a good reason to start charging bike users twice.

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          • Mark Kaepplein July 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm

            Bicyclists and pedestrians are the only ones getting charged just once via tax subsidies. Motorists pay user fees in the form of gas tax and tolls, public transit via fares. Walking isn't optional, its a right. The bicycle is one choice of vehicle, though similar to how cars are most often used -selfish, single-occupancy transit to a personal destination paradigm. Mass transit has common endpoints. Cyclists maintain the selfish paradigm, only substituting the vehicle. Motorcycles (motorbikes) would be another substitution that offers space, fuel, road wear superior to autos and time efficiency for longer distances than bicycles with lesser weather impact (better in very hot weather); all without need for special road accommodations. The US trails much of the world on using motorbikes for personal transit, even lower than the average 0.6% bike to work mode reported by the US Census from American League of Bicyclists data. I get that you guys (73% of US riders are male) and Pee Wee Herman love your bicycles as others love their pick up trucks, big rigs, cars, SUV, motorcycles, ATVs, planes, boats, and ski mobiles but most of the population considers them just vehicle / mode choices.

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          • Tacoma July 8, 2011 at 3:24 pm

            "Bicyclists and pedestrians are the only ones getting charged just once via tax subsidies. Motorists pay user fees in the form of gas tax and tolls, public transit via fares. Walking isn't optional, its a right.

            The bicycle is one choice of vehicle, though similar to how cars are most often used -selfish, single-occupancy transit to a personal destination paradigm. Mass transit has common endpoints.

            Cyclists maintain the selfish paradigm, only substituting the vehicle. Motorcycles (motorbikes) would be another substitution that offers space, fuel, road wear superior to autos and time efficiency for longer distances than bicycles with lesser weather impact (better in very hot weather); all without need for special road accommodations.

            The US trails much of the world on using motorbikes for personal transit, even lower than the average 0.6% bike to work mode reported by the US Census from American League of Bicyclists data.

            I get that you guys (73% of US riders are male) and Pee Wee Herman love your bicycles as others love their pick up trucks, big rigs, cars, SUV, motorcycles, ATVs, planes, boats, and ski mobiles but most of the population considers them just vehicle / mode choices."

            MK's comment with spaces for easier reading. My comment to readers is that I'm not sure I understand the points he is trying to make here. Can you help me?

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  • 9watts July 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    From The Telegraph, 11 Dec 2009:

    "But the age of the automobile is coming to an end and it looks like the Danes have got it right.

    The Danish Cycling Federation says the world can look “backwards” to countries like America that have dumped the bicycle and are struggling with rising obesity and CO2 levels as a consequence or “forwards” to countries like Denmark where the bike is taking over."

    taken from here: http://tinyurl.com/yew2gq7

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  • John Lascurettes July 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    So where does LaHood fall in influencing this? Bleumenhauer? Would it do any good to contact them?

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    • Chris I July 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      The best they can do is publicly denounce this plan. We have to rely on The Senate and Obama to neuter or kill this plan.

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  • Mark Kaepplein July 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    What many don't acknowledge as putting us in our current road congestion crunch is that while the boom of Interstate highway building was ending in the 1970's, a surge in women joining the workforce and buying cars was happening. Cars/household was much lower when women stayed at home. More road building was needed to satisfy increasing demand, but wasn't. Or, we can use a Danish model and have women stay home.

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    • 9watts July 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm

      Mark,

      what makes you think more women stay at home in Denmark? According to this article, 75% of women in Denmark are employed in the workforce, compared with 64% in the US:
      http://www.economist.com/node/15174418

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      • Mark Kaepplein July 7, 2011 at 5:27 pm

        I did not research my comment on Denmark, I relied on my impression of Denmark highly valuing children and raising them well. I suspect many women work part-time everywhere in order to also do the majority of domestic work. The article mentioned that 51% of US professional workers are women. They can't show up for work with helmet hair and sweaty bike togs, nor take the time to shower, primp, and put on a wrinkled outfit from their backpack. Dressing at home and driving to work is simply more time efficient for most in a world of not enough time.

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    • BURR July 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      car buying has been encouraged to support the US economy, and cars and trucks are sold as extensions of their owners' lifestyle choices. The rise and proliferation of the private automobile can be linked directly to these false claims and advertising pitches.

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    • wsbob July 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm

      "...More road building was needed to satisfy increasing demand, but wasn't. ..." Mark Kaepplein

      Building more roads for motor vehicle use can reach a point of diminishing returns, and in the U.S., this seems to have happened. The nation already has more road infrastructure than it can afford to sustain. In some places, roads have already been built out to practical limits (Hwy 217 between Hwy 26 and I-5 being one example.).

      Same thing in states with big cities like L.A. and NYC, Atlanta, home to nightmare highways. So that line from pg. 16, the 'Summary of Proposal': "...build new highway capacity...".

      What's that supposed to mean? Bigger, wider highways capable of moving greater volumes of motor vehicles? It's very expensive to build or rebuild highways for more motor vehicle capacity, and energy consumptive. And what exactly will the payoff for doing that be?

      The line "...do more with less..." (pg. 7, bottom paragraph), is a good thought if it means improving existing infrastructure to support walking, biking, mass transit. If what it means is making highways bigger so more people can be stuck on them in their cars, moving along at 10mph-15mph during rush hour, that's hardly 'A New Direction'.

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      • Mark Kaepplein July 7, 2011 at 7:58 pm

        Unfortunately building roads fosters development, jobs, housing, and increased property values. Road expansion then becomes more expensive. Many transportation problems are housing problems. Housing near jobs is often too expensive so people commute from cheaper, less congested areas. The Soviet solution was big apartment buildings so people could live close to work and more efficiently utilize public transit. NYC makes great use of public transit combined with high parking garage rates, tunnel and bridge tolls to discourage driving. Spending money on bump outs, bike tracks, downsizing roads, wider sidewalks, and landscaping benefits design firms with little transportation value compared to a travel lane.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I love the cover of the report - a very factual 'vision' of its authors.

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    • Mark Kaepplein July 7, 2011 at 7:25 pm

      It is their vision, funding highways and pushing costs of smaller roads on states and local communities. States rights and responsibilities, local action etc.. States squeezed again.

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    • Paulie July 8, 2011 at 11:02 am

      Those freeways look under-utilized, don't they? Why are we expanding capacity again? ;o)

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  • Joe Rowe July 7, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    It seems that most images were just lifted off the internet.

    http://curiosociety.wordpress.com/2008/02/22/things-for-sale-that-i-will-mail-you/

    Look at the dollar bills photo. The pixels are the same, just cropped. The 375 pixel image seems to be used hundreds of times on the internet.

    I seriously think a congressperson had their 7th grader create the report. As a teacher I looked at this report and it wreaked of plagiarism and weak slogans. There is very little data or citations. Someone needs to give congress the grade of F for pLagIARism. LIAR is part of plagiarism.

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  • jim July 7, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Why not put an import tax on goods from china to pay for our roads and bikepaths

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    • jim July 7, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      And tax the snot out of those trucks coming in from mexico. they are getting of cheap right now

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  • Joe Rowe July 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    The red tape picture is most likely downloaded without purchase from the author.
    http://us.fotolia.com/id/370340

    The lack of work in this report is very obvious. I've had over 9 years with education writing standards from Oregon and California. This report fails on so many levels. It's an Epic Fail. It's full of general statements with no detail. It reads like it was plagiarized out of Time magazine the Tea Party version.

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  • Chris I July 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Mark Kaepplein
    I get it. I should jump the subway turnstile because I add virtually no cost to the train traveling anyway. Cyclists display teen attitudes in both funding and riding. States and some cities collect gas taxes (user fees).

    And you display infantile levels of cognition. Every time we disprove one of your rants, you simply change the topic to something completely unrelated (subways? Are you serious?) And are you claiming that vehicles that "don't move goods" should not be funded? I don't understand your last comment. Cars would fall firmly into that category, and they do wear down roads.

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    • Mark Kaepplein July 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      I provided the sophomoric argument against paying user fees for a subway I already pay for with tax dollars as being very similar to arguments made by cyclists for private (taken from motor vehicles) bike lanes and paths. Both are fallacious. I am for matching supply and funding sources with demand. Cycling provides no funds and minuscule demand, yet has disproportionately higher funding currently. Feds slashing funding is thus appropriate. Lobbying for government handouts is a weak funding model. Generate your own, preferably private, funding model to pay for what you want. You can't because there simply isn't the demand and value associated with your favorite transit mode for users to reach into their pockets. I also hope section 1411 of the old bill gets deleted - funding for bike lobbies.

      I threw in goods transport to distinguish adult forms of transit from those used by children and those with childish, often whining attitudes towards funding or road rules. Its a common perception cyclists need to overcome with better, consistent, behaviors in order to earn respect.

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      • Tacoma July 8, 2011 at 2:09 pm

        "Cycling provides no funds and minuscule demand, yet has disproportionately higher funding currently." I'm curious if you can cite studies about this claim. I will state that your claim is "fallacious". Do you actually know how roads and streets are funded? It's not through "user" fees.

        If you care to look, there are studies available about how motor vehicle use is actually subsidized by people that don't use motor vehicles.

        You did state one thing that was right - "Its [sic] a common perception [misperception?] cyclists need to overcome...in order to earn respect."

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      • wsbob July 8, 2011 at 11:19 pm

        "...the sophomoric argument against paying user fees for a subway I already pay for with tax dollars as being very similar to arguments made by cyclists for private (taken from motor vehicles) bike lanes and paths. ..." Mark Kaepplein

        No way. First of all, whether you pay the fare or jump the turnstile, you're taking up the same amount of space to ride the subway or the train.

        That's not the case when traveling the road, where the choice of travel mode can make a big advance towards doing more with less (as suggested by the House Committee proposal.), as in the example of riding a bicycle, rather than driving around a big motor vehicle (as opposed to a dinky one like a Smart car.) with only the driver as occupant, which is known to be a very common practice.

        Bicycle use makes far more efficient use of the roadway than so single occupancy vehicle. Bicycle use helps to stave off having to pay for bigger, land eating higher motor vehicle volume capacity highways. Does the Republican Congressman from Florida, Rep. John Mica recognize and appreciate this simple fact?

        Bike lanes aren't private: They're public. Anyone on a bike is entitled to ride them...even you, Mark. That would be smarter than jumping subway turnstiles.

        Operating a motor vehicle is not a condition for being a member of the public. Roads have been built to accommodate motor vehicle use, but roads, with the exception of freeways, generally are not conceived to be exclusively used by motor vehicles. In some places in the U.S...like Pennsylvania, people find that a horse pulling a buggy still works just fine for getting around. I suppose some would say the honest, hardworking Pennsylvania Amish are taking space on the road from motor vehicles, since the horse doesn't drink gasoline, but instead, only eats oats and hay.

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        • Mark Kaepplein July 9, 2011 at 12:07 am

          By private, I meant for exclusive bicycle use and not shared with, say motorcycles. This is unlike full width travel lanes which motorists and bicyclists share.

          Yes, there was a time when horses dominated roads and a few cars were the ones sharing with them and subservient. So, being first, they still have a right to the road. Bicyclists can thank motorists for smooth road paving because the horses didn't need it. Gravel was better for draining horse urine and excrement. In SecondLife.com or other virtual worlds, perhaps you can have bikes grow to outnumber cars as cars did to horses.

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          • Alan 1.0 July 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm

            Another data point from the Bishop of Ussher's historical timeline.

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          • tacoma July 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm

            MK says "Bicyclists can thank motorists for smooth road paving...."

            I guess it depends on your perspective.

            http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/2011/07/road-surfaces-chip-seal-rolling.html

            See reference to "Good Roads Movement". Maybe we can thank and respect each other and work together to do "more with less" in the future.

            On a side note, when you say stuff like the sentence above, it makes me suspect other points you are trying to make because I can't trust that you've done your research.

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          • Mark Kaepplein July 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm

            Wow, so bicyclists are responsible for all the black asphalt everywhere while motorists get the blame! I also had no idea farmers were such bicycle advocates also fighting for better roads. I stand corrected! BTW, many more roads used to be concrete, which has lower rolling resistance and is safer in the wet with better grip, but noisy from expansion joints, and expensive.

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          • tacoma July 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm

            Not everywhere, just in New York and Connecticut. But I digress. The point I'm hoping you will understand is that cyclists were there at the beginning "lobbying" for good roads. I suppose though that if motor cars were invented first, their owners would have been pushing for good roads too.

            Good roads make sense for everyone. So what I'm saying is that people on bikes got it started and then the wider spread use of the automobile helped roads get built everywhere. I hope there is thanks to go all around. And to our elected officials. And to those that pay taxes to build our roads for all users. And farmers.

            As for the blame, where are you picking that up from? I didn't mention it. Kent isn't blaming motorists. Joni Mitchell? And what are you thinking motorists are being blamed for? Paving paradise? I suppose if thanks goes to all, then blame can go to all also. BTW, thanks for the info about concrete. Good to know.

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          • wsbob July 10, 2011 at 1:36 am

            "By private, I meant for exclusive bicycle use and not shared with, say motorcycles. This is unlike full width travel lanes which motorists and bicyclists share. ..." Mark Kaepplein

            That phrase, referring to bike lanes...'exclusive bicycle use': Well...that's classic. Speed capability, not gasoline consumption, accounts for why so much area of our roadways have been designated for motor vehicle use, rather than horse and buggy or bicycle use.

            It's only motor vehicles that really need roads supporting travel over 30mph. Horses would just as soon walk or run on hard packed dirt. On road bikes, people that ride bikes certainly make the best of asphalt and concrete paved roads, but...no news here: something called 'mountain bikes', or 'off-road bikes' will pretty much let people on bicycles go anywhere...in fact, more places than most motor vehicles could ever go.

            U.S. taxpayers have dumped billions of dollars towards creating very expensive to maintain oil consuming asphalt paved roads, that have precipitated sprawl and overpopulation. And as always, the encouragement of excessive use of automobiles to the point that as soon as a new stretch of highway or freeway is built...it's clogged with more rush hour motor vehicle traffic chugging along at 5mph-7mph.

            Any House Committee transportation budget proposal that doesn't aggressively support meeting the nation's travel needs by means other than motor vehicle use, is not really 'doing more with less'.

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  • David Parsons July 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Mark Kaepplein
    BTW, far more people carpool even, than bicycle to/from work! Yet, we see disproportionately more bike racks than carpool parking spots...

    You would be hard-pressed to find a business that has more bike racks than carpool parking spots. I'm sure there are some (bicycles do take up much less room than automobiles, and a small business could more easily shoehorn in a 5x8 slot to park 4-6 bicycles than it could find a 8x15 slot for a single automobile) but as a general rule if the business has the capacity for bicycle parking they'll carve that out of a slot or two in their dedicated parking lot, which will still be 95% dedicated to automobile (and motorcycle, if you're lucky) parking.

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  • Atbman July 8, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I agree with Mark about matching supply and funding sources with demand. For example, only parents should pay for school and other education facilities and only sick people should pay for medical ones.

    The use of health insurance as a means of funding hospitals, etc., is a terrible burden upon those people who look after their health with proper diet and exercise and who therefore subsidise those people who take little exercise, e.g. who drive everywhere, including taking their children to school (see childhood obesity crisis up more than 300% in last 30 years http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/)

    People with more than one child should not have any tax allowance, aka subsidy, for them, but should be penalised an amount which meets the additional cost of providing schooling for them.

    Similarly, if the cost of goods rises because employers will have to provide more carparking spaces as a result of this farseeing proposal, then employees should pay for their daily parking provision, rather than customers. Why should Joe Bloggs subsidise an employee's decision to drive, rather than cycle to work?

    And my dear, the cost of sidewalks! Provided by the taxpayer! Anyone who does his banking/fastfood purchases by drivethru and who buys his daily necessities via the internet must, surely, get a tax rebate from the city, for not using them.

    Then again, all freeways should become toll roads so that those who do not use them, whether they be drivers, cyclists or others do not bear the cost.

    And, of course, the existing subsidising of the car driver (I'm sure one of BikePortland's readers can point us in the direction of the published evidence for that) should cease forthwith.

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    • Mark Kaepplein July 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Atbman, are you writing about public or private health insurance? I actually favor public as this can reduce the cost to businesses who fund it as an untaxed benefit (like parking, but far larger). For now, purchasing health insurance is still a choice. If you're living on tofu, go without. Transport mode is also a choice. I'll agree with cutting the tax benefit for prolific breeding. We used to have more toll roads, though gas taxes are already a use fee (MA law even allows submitting gas/toll receipts for gas tax refunds on the Mass Pike so drivers are not charged a use fee twice).
      I don't support Cadillac (or your favorite lux bike brand) public health or education, the private sector can supplement those who want it. Special Education is approaching Rolls Royce costs and needs addressing - mostly due to administrative, consultant, and legal costs, not pay for direct service providers!

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  • Alan 1.0 July 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Mark Kaepplein
    Bicyclists and pedestrians are the only ones getting charged just once via tax subsidies.

    I'm not sure what "charged via tax subsidies" means (makes no sense to me) but people who use motor vehicles less subsidize those who use them more. That's how highway funding has been structured for a long time. Are you against collecting fees proportional to the costs?

    Motorists pay user fees in the form of gas tax and tolls

    But they don't pay as much in those fees as the costs incurred by their usage, i.e. they are subsidized to drive by those who do not drive.

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  • JPDX July 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Things would be so much better if OR, WA, and CA were our own country! The issue is not democrat, or republican. Both parties are morons for different reasons. People are either too far left and blind to the reality of finance and business (most of Portland), or too far right to see past their stupid ideals and morals to make real change (idiots in the Senate).

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  • k. July 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Too hell in a hand basket we go. Thanks tea party.

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