Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Image via Bike Portland(Update: Cantor's office responded below that the reason the "Safe Routes to School" funding cuts can't be found on the site was because the vote on this proposal ended and that it could be a YouCut proposal again in the future. Streetsblog will monitor YouCut to see when it comes up again. To see the original post, and the text of Cantor's response, click on after the jump.- DN) It's no surprise that Republican House Whip Eric Cantor would target bicycle and pedestrian funding as "wasteful." Earlier this month, he proposed"eliminating federally funded transportation 'enhancements like landscaping, preservation of historic facilities, and pedestrian and bike facilities' at a savings of $833 million to the federal government." In his list of proposed areas of saving highways were not included. At YouCut, Cantor proposes five ways the federal government can save a lot of money, and urges people to vote on which program is most deserving of being cut. The Whip promises a floor vote on each "winning program." However, when Cantor proposed saving the government $183 million by cutting funds to make children's commutes safer; the reaction wasn't what he expected. By this morning, the option of voting to eliminate Safe Routes to School was missing from the site. Wielding e-mail lists, blogs and social network websites, advocates beat back Cantor's attack. Almost immediately, The League of American Cyclists sent a letter to supporters urging them to contact their Member of Congress in case a Safe Routes cut actually made it to the House Floor. Their letter was picked up by blogs ranging from Bike Portland to Virginia Bikes, which also urged Cantor's constituents to give him an earful. In addition, the League's letter was forwarded by an untold number of groups. Personally, I received five copies of it: from Bikes Belong, the Caltrans Bike Advisory Committee, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Ciudad de las Luces and the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership. However, just because this attempt at cutting Safe Routes to School's funding was beaten back, it doesn't mean that it's not going to rear its ugly head again. In his justification for cutting Safe Routes, Cantor calls the project "duplicative' because other funding sources exist for bicycle and pedestrian projects and blasts the requirement that every state have at least one Safe Routes coordinator. This sort of Car Culture reasoning, that funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects is wasteful without ever thinking that our federal subsidy for car-driving is far more costly and wasteful, isn't going to go away because of a bunch of angry email from cyclists.