Archive for September 14th, 2007

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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