In case you haven’t heard, there’s a battle royale going on in the U.S. Congress over the transportation bill right now. Members of the House and Senate are in negotiations to come up with some sort of agreement about how to actually pass a bill, instead of just extending the current one for the umpteenth time.
Included in these high-level talks are, once again, threats to change how cities and states fund projects that improve biking and walking. House Republicans and some Senators say they want to take away local control over spending on key programs like Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails.
Suffice it to say, League of American Bicyclists president Andy Clarke isn’t taking it well. He’s pressing California Senator Barbara Boxer to reject the Republicans’ “small-minded and vindictive attacks” against bicycling and keep her promise to maintain these programs and retain local control over them. In a blog post this week, Clarke listed his top 10 reasons why Congress should not mess with biking and walking programs.
The one that caught my eye had to do with, “military readiness”. That’s new to me. I have never heard a national bike advocate bring that up as an argument. But I like it. Here’s more from Clarke:
“Military readiness? Yes, we can even play that card. The U.S. military is so concerned about the general lack of physical fitness among kids that they are big supporters of the Safe Routes to School program as one way to get our children moving again. Really, who wouldn’t be in favor of Safe Routes to School?”
Clarke links to Mission Readiness, a non-profit made up of retired military leaders who work to ensure our national security by calling for, “smart investments in the upcoming generation of American children.”
One major factor that keeps young people out of the military is the obesity epidemic. Mission Readiness says it’s “one of the top disqualifiers for military service” and that one out of four young adults between the ages of 17-24 are too overweight to serve. One way to combat that obesity problem is to get them biking and walking to school. Here’s how they put it:
While not a silver bullet to this multifaceted problem, one way to increase physical activity and promote weight control is increasing options for more students — and adults for that matter — to safely bike and walk.
…Alone, such investments are not going to solve the nation’s child obesity problem, but they should be included as part of our ongoing community efforts to ensure that our child obesity crisis does not become an even more serious national security threat.
So there you have it. More cycling, more soldiers, more security.