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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy will drop over 50,000 signatures on AAA’s doorstep Monday

Posted by on December 10th, 2010 at 3:29 pm

The op-ed in AAA World that started it all.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has spent over three months gathering signatures on a petition to persuade the automobile advocacy group AAA to support the continued federal funding of bicycling and walking programs. On Monday, their campaign will culminate when they bike over 50,000 signatures right to the doorstep of AAA’s national headquarters in Heathrow, Florida.

RTC’s campaign began back in August when the leader of a regional chapter of the AAA, Don Gagnon, argued in AAA World magazine that federal Highway Trust Fund spending on non-motorized transportation was leading to an, “increasingly deteriorating highway system.” Highway money should only pay for highways, AAA said. (Download Gagnon’s original article here. (PDF))

Ironically, RTC discovered that there’s a nice, big trail right outside Mr. Gagnon’s office building that was paid for by none other than the federal Highway Trust Fund. RTC paid it a visit and made this video…

Since 1991, the Highway Trust Fund has been used for all aspects of our nation’s transportation system. RTC estimates that more than 19,000 miles of rail-trails and other active transportation projects have been built with those funds. RTC Director Keith Laughlin calls those trails “the lifeblood of our movement.”

To join the signature delivery event tomorrow, follow @railstotrails on Twitter.

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  • peejay December 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Does this AAA guy realize that every dollar spent on non-motorized transit can increase the life of our roadways? Fewer people driving == longer lasting roads. So, his argument doesn’t even make sense for what he wants, let alone what’s actually better for the country.

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    • rigormrtis December 13, 2010 at 8:46 am


      more people driving = higher revenues from gas taxes = more money to pay for upkeep.

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      • lothar December 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm

        Your logic reminds me of the SNL parody The Change Bank – a parody of banking service commercials, advertising a bank that only makes change. How are they able to be successful? “Volume.”

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  • 9watts December 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    This is all so 20th century. Pretty soon gas taxes will cease to pay for much (as if an $89 billion shortfall weren’t enough), and asphalt will cease to be so cheap, and we’re going to have much bigger worries like growing food without petroleum. But…the wear on our deteriorating infrastructure from all those cars will also be much less or even cease. Who knew there would be a silver lining to the post-Peak Oil world we’ve now entered.

    Didn’t you get that memo, Monsieur Gagnon?

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    • matt picio December 11, 2010 at 8:17 am

      Asphalt has already ceased to be cheap – the price varies directly with the cost of oil.

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      • q`Tzal December 13, 2010 at 10:55 am

        As the price of crude went up the refineries found ways to refine more high end products (gasoline & diesel) from the same amount of crude lessening the amount of tar waste byproducts left over to cheaply make asphalt.

        Supply down => $ up

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  • CaptainKarma December 10, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Thomas Kuhn, in “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, pretty much said that for any new vision to be accepted, the old generation just about has to die die off. Literally.

    I’m not advocating anything proactive here, just quoting Kuhn 😉

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    • bobcycle December 11, 2010 at 7:20 am

      hopefully he was defining “old generation” as those who embrace outmoded ways… as opposed to those of us over 60 years of age who embrace change on many fronts. When my mother in law recently passed away at 82 years old the world lost one of the most progressive advocates for change around.

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  • Keith Laughlin December 11, 2010 at 10:16 am

    AAA’s current vision of the future seems to be limited to what they can see in their rear view mirror as they barrel down an interstate highway. If they were to expand their vision to help redefine the role of the automobile in a truly multi-modal transportation system of the 21st century, they could be a force for good. But if they continue down their current road, they are not only a negative force, but they endanger their own existence. The product they are selling was made in post-WWII America and has a rapidly diminishing shelf life. Unless they fundamentally change, I would not be surprised if they have gone the way of the dinosaur in the next 10 years.

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  • Dave Thomson December 11, 2010 at 11:37 am

    AAA has been busy trying to Greenwash themselves, but they have always been against any money or road space for anything but cars. Check out Better World Club if you need car (and bike) roadside assistance.

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    • rigormrtis December 13, 2010 at 8:48 am

      In all fairness, they are an automobile organization. I would not expect an environmental organization to lobby for relaxed emission standards, either.

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    • Joe December 13, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      Agreed. Member of Better World and though I don’t get maps and such, I’m totally satisfied for the times I’ve needed a tow (ok – many times with an old VW Vanagon)

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  • Chris December 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Most insurance companies include Roadside Assistance with their car coverage(I think mine comes to just over $1 per month). And maps or triptiks from AAA is outdated with GoolgeMaps, BingMaps, MapQuest, etc… not to mention smartphones and in car GPS. AAA is doing anything they can to stay alive…

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  • Robert December 14, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Take a good long look at Don. In fact, do a google image search on him. He is much of what is wrong with transportation today. He is suffering from obesity, no doubt feeling the effects and having to take medication after medication. I fail to see how he feels the “freedom of the open road” with that body. The current transportation system has wrecked his body and he asks for more. Weird.

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