by Rebecca Schmitz

Salon.com has an interesting article today about the Bush Administration blaming the Minneapolis bridge collapse on…wait for it…bike paths.  Yes, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters claims that money wasted on bike paths nationwide, as well as other projects, could have saved those poor commuters’ lives last month.

“There are museums that are being built with that money, bike paths, trails, repairing lighthouses. Those are some of the kind of things that that money is being spent on, as opposed to our infrastructure,” she said. The secretary added that projects like bike paths and trails “are really not transportation.”

I think it’s relevant in light of the ongoing debate in Missoula about bike paths, sharing the road, traffic congestion, the Broadway Diet, and the battles in Ward Two over moving that stretch of Broadway in and out of the larger neighborhood plan created by the local residents. Most of the City Council candidates specifically addressed transportation concerns in the questionnaires published in the Missoulian. Our town has to keep traffic flowing smoothly if we want to be a regional hub with a thriving economy. However, can government officials and private citizens seriously argue that spending money on bike paths endangers commuter safety? This is my favorite quote from the Salon article:

“The guy in his Humvee taking his videos back to the video store isn’t any more legitimate a trip than the guy on the Raleigh taking his videos back,” says Andy Thornley, program director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

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  1. noodly appendage

    Add Bozeman’s parking garage to the list of things being blamed.

  2. noodly appendage

    One caveat in the observation, humvee vs bike. The humvee driver is paying for the roads with his fuel taxes. Bikes are free loading. (I now expect to hear all the claims of greater morality for bike riders–that still doesn’t build roads.)

  3. Oh, you’ll hear it alright.

  4. Widowmaker

    Rebecca, I’m going to have to correct the Salon article, its one of those things that bother me. I don’t know why. Its like when people say jelly instead of preserves.

    I have never seen a Humvee return a movie to a video store. I wouldn’t. The armor would get in the way, and those things are Kidney bashers. Doesn’t seem like a good use of government funds and time. Rather, a HUMMER would. The civilianized version of the military HUMVEE. Which, btw, would never had hit the civilian market if it wasn’t for the Governator calling the military during Desert Storm and wanting some. Arnold bought 5. The HUMMER was born. Which is the little sister of the HUMVEE.

    Thats my rant, sorry, it just bothers me.

  5. No problem. I can certainly understand your irritation, Widowmaker.

    No matter who’s paying for the majority of road maintenance, Noodly, there’s more than enough money to repair crumbling infrastructure. From the article:

    “It’s hard to argue that walking paths and bike trails are robbing federal coffers when states can’t even spend all the federal money they’ve received to repair bridges in the first place. In 2006, state departments of transportation sent back $1 billion in unspent bridge funds to the federal government, according to the Federal Highway Administration.”

    You can blame Bozeman’s parking garage for something else. El Niño, maybe.

  6. ayn rand

    I want to have the “bike brake repair station” at the bottom of Hillview Way. That may not be a profitable business since there may be no more that three bike per day coming down.

  7. Francisco d'Anconia

    Noodly, I wonder how many bike riders also have motor vehicles that they fuel up (and thus pay fuel tax for like the Hummer driver you note) but choose not to use all the time. In a sense, these bikers are subsidizing Hummer driver and other good citizens on top of getting exercise and otherwise attracting noterity. I am also thinking that fuel taxes do not pay for roads in their entirety. Finally, perhaps a civil engineer, or other objective dignitary, can inform us how much wear and tear the proverbial bike and rider inflict on this great city’s infrastructure compared to Humvee the Blameless.

  8. My father was a civil engineer. He died last year, but I can remember for years his complaints about the lousy job done by the city of Missoula and the companies it contracts to maintain the streets. I wish I could recall some of his rants. He held one particular private company in complete disregard.

  9. matguy

    The fuel tax thing again? My bike doesn’t build roads, but neither does your gas tax, at least not entirely. We’ve been there before, cut paste and learn:

    http://4and20blackbirds.wordpress.com/2007/04/22/earth-day-cycling-thoughts/

  10. Give me an old cool bicycle, and I’ll ride around the city for days.




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