Conservative Congressional leaders have had bicycle and pedestrian projects in their cross hairs for years. This has led to some serious policy concerns, such as a Republican Bill to reauthorize the transportation trust fund that has no bicycle or pedestrian funds. And less serious ones, such as online polls designed to create populist anger against green transportation spending.
Just last year, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor proposed eliminating the federal Safe Routes to Schools programs in his YouCut program, where people vote on their least favorite projects on a special website. While Safe Routes to Schools didn’t “win” that election, Cantor is now proposing to eliminate federal bike share subsidies.
Even if the federal government eliminated funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs altogether, it wouldn’t do much of anything to reduce the federal deficit. Note in Cantor’s proposal there are hard figures for savings if the grants to Worstel Wool Manufacturers or a scholarship and research program to promote green technologies were eliminated. That’s because there’s no line item in the federal government for “bike share” programs, which is probably why bicycle and pedestrian projects are blamed for the bankruptcy of the federal transportation trust fund.
In the 2011 fiscal year the federal government granted $53 billion in grants through the transit and highway trust funds. Less than 2% of that was spent on bicycle and pedestrian programs, and barely any of that was spent on bike share programs. The expansion of Washington D.C.’s program was the big bike share expenditure at $1.9 million.
I suppose it could be worse. At Cantor he didn’t refer to bike sharing as a communist plot.