The House Transportation Bill will be revealed today, and it already has alternative transportation activists across the country up in arms about the amount of funding being cut for federally mandated pedestrian and bike programs. In short, the bill funnels tons of cash into highway improvements and programs, cuts any federal obligation for programs “not in the federal interest” which includes bike and pedestrian programs, increases the size of trucks allowed on highways, cuts the time allotted for environmental surveys of highway projects, and is expected to be paid for in part by opening up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — a move that democrats say is a “non starter”. The bill has been called “a march of horribles” by representatives from the Sierra Club. Thankfully the bill is still in committee — it is expected to be voted out of committee on Thursday — and has quite the array of hurdles in front of it before it becomes law.

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“Americans are looking for transportation choices that can conveniently get them where they need to go without polluting the planet,” Jesse Prentice-Dunn of the Sierra Club told DC Streets Blog. “Today more than 12 percent of trips are made by foot or bike, yet less than 2 percent of our nation’s transportation funding goes towards biking and pedestrian infrastructure. According to the Alliance for Biking and Walking, bike commuting increased 57 percent between 2000 and 2009. Instead of increasing investment in transportation options that Americans want, the House bill appears to funnel more dollars towards roads, further deepening our addiction to oil.” Not only would they be supporting oil-dependent highway programs but they’d be paying for it by pilfering the largest protected wilderness in the United States in order to gain more oil to feed that addiction. The House guises their oily addiction by saying that their efforts to increase highway construction and open up new drilling spots will help create American jobs.

The House Transportation Bill, though far from being passed, is proof of the archaic view of the representatives in Congress on the future of transportation. It also ignores the ability of alternative transportation to improve aspects of American lives not related to getting from point A to point B. Supporting bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure has a huge benefit to the health of Americans who are increasingly becoming obese partially due to lack of exercise . So just to keep tabs here, our congressional representatives believe that pizza is a vegetable, that our kids should be playing with toxic chemicals all around them, that we should all be able to waste as much energy as we want with inefficient lightbulbs and that we should all hop in our cars instead of cycling or walking because drilling for oil puts people to work. So who, might we ask, builds bike lanes?

Via DC Streets Blog