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Mica hints at slash to key federal bike funding

Posted by on May 6th, 2011 at 11:33 am

Say it ain’t so, John.
(Photo © J. Maus)

National advocacy groups are having a busy spring thanks to numerous threats to important pots of federal bike infrastructure funding.

From the Recreational Trails Program to Safe Routes to School, many crucial funding pots that have provided millions to bicycling and walking projects over the decades are in jeapordy of being slashed by lawmakers in D.C.

The latest threat is perhaps the most blatant and it comes from a very high-profile and important figure in deciding what is included in the forthcoming transportation bill.

Representative John Mica (R-FL) — who took over as Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee when Jim Oberstar lost his seat last November — is the latest in a long line of lawmakers who has compared “bike trails” to “beautification projects” and is now questioning their importance altogether. (The money in question is the Transportation Enhancements program. )

The Orlando Sentinel reported yesterday that Rep. Mica wants to “siphon away” money for “bike paths”:

“Millions of tax dollars set aside by law to build bike paths and sidewalks in Florida and elsewhere could be siphoned away for roads if U.S. Rep. John Mica and state transportation officials are successful in changing the rules…

He has the support of Ananth Presad, recently appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to be top administrator of the Florida Department of Transportation.

During a congressional hearing run by Mica in Maitland last month, Presad said, “We must give serious consideration to whether — when resources and dollars are at a premium — spending money on sidewalks, bike trails, beautification and other projects like this is the most prudent use of taxpayer money.””

Mica’s comments have quickly raised the ire of the Rails to Trails Conservancy. In a blog post this morning, they wrote,

“It’s time to get smarter about how we build our transportation infrastructure and move away from an outdated approach to transportation investment that can be best characterized as, “Drive, Baby, Drive!

With budget and fiscal concerns atop everyone’s mind on Capitol Hill, preserving existing pots of funding set aside for bike projects will be the major focus of advocacy groups all summer. Stay tuned.

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Chris I
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Chris I

Just another example of why we need to keep the feds out of transportation planning. I don’t want some hick from the other side of the country deciding where my tax dollars for transportation get allocated. We should be deciding this in our state.

JF
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JF

That is exactly what this bill does. There are advantages and disadvantages. It is allowing more freedom for states choose how much money to spend on bikeways/pedestrian enhancements and not mandate it.

Good: bike/pedestrian progressive states could continue the trend of putting money toward these projects and fund as much as necesary.

Bad: Some states may not have the foresight to fund pedestrian/beatification/bikeways and forget about them.

JF
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JF

Sorry for the followup to my note above, but this is all the more reason if this bill passes that the portland and southern washington residents need to stay involved to make sure funding still goes toward these projects.

Chris I
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Chris I

I don’t care what Florida chooses to do with their money. My concern is that (and as Jon points out) he is “hinting” that he does not support non-highway transportation at the federal level. This could mean that they remove this funding (recreational trails, safe routes to school, etc) at the federal level in the future. We never get the chance to decide where it goes, because it has to go to highways.

JF
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JF

The money does not have to go to highways. What he is proposing is to remove the federal mandated apportionment for the bike/ped/beaut of the transportation money allocated for each state. Therefore, the states still have the freedom to use the money as each state deems necesary.

Then you don’t need to care about what florida does with there money because they would no longer be obligated to put money toward these projects. It would be up to the people at each state in charge of the funding to allocate an amount to these other uses.

The scary thing is that some states may use this as an excuse to disolve departments that used to be in charge of this money. And bike/ped infrastructure planning could be gone for good. I do not see this happening in oregon/washington. But other states could lose this aspect of planning for good.

Mike
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Mike

Oregon hicks and hippies for Oregon Transportation decisions.

kerry
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kerry

Who puts a Floridian in charge of transportation? The whole state is a deathtrap for anyone not inside a reinforced bunker…you can get run over INSIDE a big box store, for crying out loud.

Ross Nicholson
Guest

This is a correct assessment. By all means, come to Florida, but don’t try to bring your bikes with you. It seems to be the policy here that all bicycles are to be crushed by motorists as quickly as possible.

peejay
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peejay

As bad as the Democrats are, do not EVER vote for a Republican again until such time as they are not controlled by people who are batshit insane.

BURR
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BURR

Florida is already in the running for worst state to ride a bicycle in, and now they want to drag all the rest of the country down to their level?

Ross Nicholson
Guest

True, so true. Not to worry though, republicans mostly live in old gated communities with sidewalks already in place.

Tony Columbo
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Tony Columbo

Pave the way. We need this guy in Oregon

Atbman
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Atbman

Courtesy of the Florida Bicycle Association. On 22nd October, 2010:
Congressman Mica stated: “The Safe
Routes to School Program is a great initiative
that encourages kids to walk or bike to
school. It is a win-win, benefitting the security
of our students and making our roadways
and bike paths safer for everyone.”
The event began with a video presentation
from a Walk to School Event held at Westside
on International Walk to School Day
(October 6, 2010). Following the video presentation
and remarks by the community
leaders, Congressman Mica presented a certificate
and flag that had been flown over the
U.S. Capitol Building to Westside Principal
Judy Winch. Chairman Frank Bruno presented
Principal Winch with a Proclamation from
the Volusia County Council for Safe Routes
to School Day on October 22, 2010.

Did someone mention the phrase “joined-up thinking”?

Merckxrider
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Merckxrider

peejay
As bad as the Democrats are, do not EVER vote for a Republican again until such time as they are not controlled by people who are batshit insane.

+100!

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

“We must give serious consideration to whether — when resources and dollars are at a premium — spending money on sidewalks, bike trails, beautification and other projects like this is the most prudent use of taxpayer money.”

Answer: YES, 100% YES.

JB
Guest
JB

The slant on this article is horrible. Do your research and you’ll find that Mica has brought tens of millions in federal funding to Florida to fund bike and pedestrian paths. He’s a HUGE advocate of alternative transit, and his comments are only made in light of the incredibly huge budget deficits/debt we’re facing…