Oklahoma’s Republican Senator Tom Coburn has published a list of 100 federally funded projects that he deems, “the most wasteful government spending of 2010.” On that list is a $900,000 stimulus grant recently received by the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation to pay for bikeway markings and signage.
Sen. Coburn seems to think that we already had enough signs on our bikeways and the new ones simply aren’t necessary. Here’s the mention of the signs in Coburn’s “Wastebook” (those are my photos, used without permission):
And the text reads:
“Why have one bike sign when you can have two? Portland, Oregon spent $900,000 in federal stimulus funds on a new bike signage project even though the city already has similar bike signs, which it plans to leave up. The new signs—which include arrows, distance, and travel times to key destinations— have a slightly different design than existing ones, according to a local biking website.”
The “website” Coburn’s report refers to is BikePortland.org. He also includes links to our story back in April about the signage project.
This isn’t the first time Sen. Coburn has trash-talked a bicycle project. You might recall back in April 2009 when he and Republican Senator John McCain issued a report calling out non-highway projects being funded with the Highway Trust Fund. In that report the Senators likened “bike paths” to “extraneous expenditures” like flowers and “road-kill reduction programs.”
As Republicans ready to take over control of the U.S. House of Representatives and try to look tough on what they deem as wasteful government spending, we’re likely to hear more of this rhetoric in the future.
UPDATE, 12/22 at 9:16am: Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) has issued a response to Coburn’s claims. Read it here.