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Tag Archive: alternative transportation

Bike Paths are Unconstitutional?

I hadn’t seen this covered on many other bike blogs, so I thought I’d share the following with you to get your opinions on the issue:

In a recent interview with Streetsblog Capitol Hill, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) puts forth his opinion that federally-mandated bike paths are unconstitutional. Here’s a bit of the back and forth:

STREETSBLOG: I was just in an [Environment and Public Works] Committee hearing and there was some talk about the fact that some small amount of money in the [transportation] reauthorization historically gets used for things like bike trails. Some people think that’s waste; some people think biking is a mode of transportation. What do you think?

HUNTER: I don’t think biking should fall under the federal purview of what the Transportation Committee is there for. If a state wants to do it, or local municipality, they can do whatever they want to. But no, because then you have us mandating bike paths, which you don’t want either.

STREETSBLOG: But you’re OK with mandating highways?

HUNTER: Absolutely, yeah. Because that’s in the constitution. I don’t see riding a bike the same as driving a car or flying an airplane.

STREETSBLOG: How is it different?

HUNTER: I think it’s more of a recreational thing. That’s my opinion.

Read the full interview with Rep. Hunter by clicking here.

I’ve heard the argument that it should be a state-by-state decision to develop bicycle infrastructure and shouldn’t be a federal initiative, and I can understand that line of thought…but to me, Rep. Hunter’s comments just smack of being out of touch with the needs of the American people and dangerously adhering to a very narrow interpretation of the Constitution. Also in the interview, Rep. Duncan takes a “well, people drive to work and I’m not particularly interested in finding transportation alternatives for them” view. Troubling…

Your thoughts? Let’s hear ’em.

TransForm’s Car-Free Challenge

The folks from TransForm recently sent us their announcement for their “Car-Free Challenge” to be held between June 1 and June 7, 2010.

They even made a cute video to help advertise it…although bicycles aren’t featured, I was pleased to see bike-carrying racks on the bus used in the video:

As an aside, way back in the late 90s, I attended a wedding in my hometown, and the bride and groom left their reception on his-and-hers mountain bikes with cans and streamers attached. That SCREAMS classy — screw the gas-guzzling limo; try a great alternative!

Is the U.S. Finally Getting Serious About Alternative Transportation?

The Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced at the National Bike Summit that:

Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.

We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

LaHood went on to unveil his Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations.

Obviously, it’s too early to tell what this all means for transportational cyclists and pedestrians, but to me it looks like a VERY positive step in the right direction. About time, too…

From the Bikeleague.org blog via Bicycle Stories (thanks for the tip, Alan!)

Green Tuesday — Book Review: “The Urban Homestead”

For this week’s Green Tuesday article, I’ve got something a little different…a book review, but not a typical book that gets reviewed here…

A couple months ago, I spotted an intriguing book in my library’s new nonfiction display. It is The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen (Port Townsend, Wash: Process Media, 2008). This book is the third in the “Process Self-Reliance Series.”

urban homestead cover

The Urban Homestead is a handy guide to a variety of projects and techniques for living greener even in a dense urban area. The book covers a lot of bases, from gardening, composting and canning to saving electricity and encouraging alternative forms of transportation (including bicycles). Coyne and Knutzen fill the book with easy projects, personal success stories and a host of references to other Web and print resources.

It’s best to think of this book as a good springboard toward more advanced projects and techniques — it is not intended to be a “one-stop” complete guide, as such a book would be thousands of pages long. Instead, this book allows someone interested in reducing their personal environmental impact to get started without a whole lot of time or financial investment. The authors have made this book easy to stomach, with peppy writing and a good dose of humor…and it is laced with common sense tips and many “why didn’t I think of that?” moments.

Overall, if you are interested in living a greener life by growing some of your own food and saving money on electricity costs, this book would be a great place to start. It’s a fun read and can be really eye-opening in the sense that some of the mystery behind smart environmental living has been removed. I recommend this one!

Commuter Choices Week in Tampa Bay

Commuter choices week header

All this week, Bay Area Commuter Services is having their annual “Commuter Choices Week“, with festivities and bike rides throughout the Tampa Bay area. On October 1st, I attended their “Party on Poe Plaza”. There were representatives from local bike shops, bicycle/pedestrian planning organizations, the area’s two municipal bus services and many others in attendance.

part of the crowd

Even better, this event was attended by folks from the national, state and local governments. It was a veritable “who’s who” of Senatorial staff, Congresspeople, County Commissioners and planning chiefs — someone from U.S. Senator Mel Martinez’s office came and made a speech, our U.S. Congressional Representative Kathy Castor said a few words, and Hillsborough County Commissioner and all-around great lady Rose Ferlita gave the keynote address to the gathering.

Here’s Rose Ferlita (behind the podium at left) addressing the folks in attendance:
Rose Ferlita

Everyone in attendance seemed to agree that more work is needed in the Tampa Bay area to get people to use alternative forms of transportation. Although there was a lot of talk about “light rail” solutions, plenty was said about building bicycling infrastructure throughout the area. As this is the event’s 11th anniversary, it is apparent that the Tampa Bay area is really looking to change for the better — the event is better-attended every year and with all the politicians and planning professionals mingling with the crowd, good things CAN happen if we’re patient (and vocal!).

Oh, did I mention that Thunderbug, the mascot of NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning (2003 Stanley Cup Champions) also came to the event on his custom-made trike? Here he is:
Thunderbug

Going to this event also gave me the opportunity to talk with the organizer of Tampa Bay’s upcoming Bicycle Bash By the Bay, which the Bikecommuters.com team will be participating in. Stay tuned for more info on that event, which will take place on November 4th at the Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg.