Here’s a roundup of several articles on the 2010 midterm elections, and how the outcome may effect cycling advocacy, and transportation infrastructure.
“Bicycle Retailer and Industry News” takes an agnostic view, and speculates that Democrats, if relieved of their chairs, might actually become more effective advocates for cycling projects:
Cycling’s two biggest supporters-Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.)-appear headed for reelection despite the headwinds buffeting most Democratic incumbents this year…
But if the Republicans take control of the House, Oberstar would lose his powerful position as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee-the committee that oversees the multi-billion-dollar federal transportation bill that has channeled billions of dollars into bicycle projects.
The next Congress will have to determine the fate of the $450 billion, six-year federal transportation bill, which also funds cycling infrastructure projects. The bill has been stalled for more than a year.
Oberstar’s likely successor as chairman is Rep. John Mica, a Republican who represents a district in northwest Florida.
Mica would have to accommodate the views of many Republicans who oppose spending on so-called “transportation enhancements,” which are projects for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Bureau of National Affairs views it as likely that a Republican-controlled house would seek to reallocate money currently intended for cycling infrastructure projects:
Mica himself said –other revenue that’s been diverted” is one of the ways to reach a $500 billion price tag for the legislation… Current law requires states use at least 10 percent of their highway funds on –transportation enhancements” such as sidewalks, bike paths, roadside beautification projects, or transportation museums. That funding totals more than $4 billion annually.
Of that $4 billion, about one-fourth is used on cycling infrastructure. To put this into perspective, is this recent post from The League of American Cyclists:
It is being used to create miles of bicycling facilities, countless bike parking spaces, hundreds of safer routes to schools for children, recreational trails, and other needed projects. However, it is still a drop in the overall transportation-bucket. Bicycling and walking make up 12 percent of all trips and yet receive less than two percent of federal transportation funding. To put the billion dollars in perspective, the amount of federal money spent on bicycle and pedestrian projects, nation-wide, in FY 2010 is equal to the cost of just one bridge in the Port of Long Beach.