“Safe Routes to School” Under Attack

From a press release sent by the League of American Bicyclists:

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) has targeted the federal Safe Routes to School program established under the 2005 Federal Surface Transportation Bill (SAFETEA-LU) as wasteful government spending in his weekly “YouCut program”.

Each week representative Cantor asks people to vote for which of five options they would cut from the federal budget. Republicans then hold a floor vote in the House of Representatives to try to eliminate the program that gets the most votes.

This week, the federal Safe Routes to School program is one of Rep. Cantor’s targets. He argues that SRTS duplicates other bicycling and walking programs, and that bicycling and walking infrastructure is a local government responsibility. We need your help making sure that Members of Congress understand the value of Safe Routes to School and support it.

Please take a few minutes to send a message to your Member of Congress to ask them to vote against any effort to cut Safe Routes to School.

Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter.

For more information and some defensive talking points associated with this proposal, please click here.

And, for a tool to let you easily contact your elected representatives on this matter, please click here.


  1. Iron_Man

    I have to say I agree with Cantor. Bicycle infrastructure has to be a community based solution working within the context of that community’s existing vision, not a top down mandate by faraway bureaucrats. With the top down approach you get goofy bike lane to nowhere nonsense and wasteful spending. Local communities working in conjunction with their local bicycle residents are better able to meet the necessary needs, make appropriate compromises, and often at far lesser cost to the taxpayer.

    Let the “dog-pile on the libertarian” commence. 🙂

  2. Ghost Rider

    While I agree with some of your sentiment, SRTS is administered on the local level with local “points of contact”. The only Federal influence is the money itself and the decision to make it available for the local projects.

  3. harry krishna

    in my community, they spent the money and nothing happened.

  4. BluesCat

    One of my senators is McCain, one of the Out of Gas manifesto co-authors, who doesn’t think federal money should be spent for ANYTHING bicycle related. Senator Kyl is no better.

    I have already sent messages to my Congressmen.

  5. Steve A

    Our SRTS failed to accomplish anything. Actually, come to think of it, nothing would have been an improvement over what got done. It’d be proactively dangerous if kids used it.

  6. @Growsomevalues

    There is so much waste in Washington it makes me sick. First I’m glad someone is looking into the waste. Second this program is just another prime example of Washington overstepping its bounds so that congressmen and Senators can play to their base and secure votes. If they would stick to the constitution like they are suppose to this wouldn’t be a problem. I agree it must be a local program. And for me that also includes the money. NO FEDERAL FUNDS! This program should be at the state level not federal. There is no basis in the constitution for it at the federal level and it should be eliminated. As a cyclist and a Father of 2 elementary school kids (who go to private school. Public School sux because of Special interests killing it but that’s another conversation). I also think the 2 mile rule should also be in effect for bus pick up. anyone living closer than 2 miles should walk or ride a bike. Plus this wouldn’t be a problem if school districts would stop building schools out of town on fairly busy roads. Stop building Mega schools, make em smaller and more local. Stop treating kids like a commodity. I place Mega Schools in the same category as feed lots. Keep schools smaller and in town where its more developed and you would have any “safe route” problems.

    I for one am sick of Congress Reps and Dems wasting my money in Washington. I am a cyclist and a member of the Tee-party. Not because Obama got elected but because Obama and McCain were both Progressive Statist idiots that didn’t represent my world view. Lets get back to Constitutional rule. Out with the Progressive Statists.

    Everyone should themselves a favor read the constitution and Federalist papers. Get out of Meville and this stinking habit of begging for federal funds that are non existent. Open your eyes to how we are all being screwed out of our Freedom and How China owns you/all of us because of the stinkin’ federal debt. Cut the fed budget in 1/2 now.

  7. BluesCat

    Hmmm. Don’t wanna get in a tooting match here, but “playing to their base and securing votes” is what has been going on for a LONG time in Washington (Andrew Jackson probably would have been a member of the Tee-party).

    Growsomevalues, there has ALWAYS been waste and corruption in Washington, the reason being is that there has ALWAYS been waste and corruption in private industry, and leaders as far back as the Founding Fathers have recognized that. It’s a simple fact of life. I don’t like it, but nobody can change it any more than someone can change their own genetic makeup. The most we can do is root out the waste and corruption when we can find it and try to add to our fund of laws those rules which will prevent it from happening again.

    The Constitution isn’t meant to be the sum total of laws and a complete blueprint for every government function. It is a list of basic, INVIOLABLE rules which supersede all of our other rules. It is a moral starting point, an ethical baseline and an intellectual foundation for government to address the old and new problems of our world.

    If it were not for the laws and programs which have been added to our federal law book, the only paved roads in this country would be the ones going from rich man’s house to rich man’s house on the Eastern seaboard.

  8. John

    Just because we ride bikes doesn’t give us the right to demand people to pay taxes. Demanding money from hard working people is wrong. No matter what side your on thinking that you are entitled to someones money is totally immoral. Taxes are getting out of control in this country and activists on all sides are looking to use other peoples money to promote their beliefs and force everyone to act they way they think the world should be. Plus we all know the reason for a need for “safe paths” is because it is socially acceptable to be a complete ass as long as you are driving a car. People are always on their worst behavior behind the wheel of a car. Cars suck but taxes suck more.

  9. BluesCat

    The fact of the matter is the world runs on money. If we want to get the bad guys in Iraq and Afghanistan, its gonna take money. If we want to roust the sleazy, greedy bankers on Wall Street, its gonna take money. If we want to solve the problem of the drug cartels along our southern border, its gonna take money. If we want to make sure another BP Gulf Oil Disaster doesn’t happen, its gonna take money.

    If you can think of another way of getting that money other than taxes, well, I wanna be on your campaign staff for the 2012 Presidential Election: I guarantee we’ll win and solve ALL the WORLD’S problems in our first term.

    I don’t mind taxes nearly as much as I mind allowing some people to not pay their fair share. If we closed all the loopholes which allow the rich to pay even less each year than I do (and I’m not talking percentages here, I’m talking ACTUAL DOLLAR AMOUNT), we could get along with a MUCH smaller tax burden.

  10. Iron_Man

    The fact is we are running out of money. If we hope to fight the bad guys, (though our troops need to come home), the disasters, or restart this economy of ours, we need to STOP spending so much money that we don’t have. These bike paths may be for my kids, but my grandchildren’s children will still be paying for them, plus interest (even though by that time they’ll need to be replaced). Again if a community wants to spend it, then they should invest in it, but it’s nearly immoral for folks in California, that can’t get their fiscal spending in order, to take money from the citizens through the federal government overstepping their bounds, to spend on yet another project that California can’t afford to begin with.

    I’m no fan of the rationale that goes “If I can merely point out equal or worse behavior, then it’ll justify my own just as bad or better behavior.”

  11. BluesCat

    I don’t think we’re so much “running out of money” as we are “misspending our credit line.” A small business gets a loan so that it can expand, make more money, pay back the loan with interest and be bigger and more profitable — and “better” — afterward. A lot of the loans, or “credit,” the federal government is signing up for will in no way make the nation “better.”

    The bailouts for Wall Street did nothing (as far as I can see) towards correcting the graft, greed and corruption present in all of these banks and insurance companies. I think the jury is still out on whether the auto industry bailouts are “good” loans or “bad” ones.

    However, every dollar invested in bicycle infrastructure returns many times that dollar investment (i.e. a 9-to-1 return on investment for the North Carolina Outer Banks improvements). These are definitely GOOD investments — a GOOD use of our federal credit line — just for the hard dollar return. They are ENORMOUSLY GOOD investments when the soft dollar benefits — such as health and fitness, pollution abatement, less fossil fuel consumption, etc. — are calculated in.

  12. Iron_Man

    That’s a very very subjective metric. I’m not buying a 9 to 1 return on something that generates no direct revenue at all. I agree that cycling does in fact do all those things you listed … for the people who actually ride significant miles and trips, but there’s no guarantee that folks will do that. European nations that have invested heavily in bicycle infrastructure still have rising obesity rates, rising emissions, and rising fossil fuel consumption. They don’t all match US rates, but they are on the rise all the same.

    Just to be clear I don’t support the bank bailouts. Never have. Nor the auto industry. Nor the unions. etc. etc.

  13. BluesCat

    Iron_Man, it isn’t subjective at all, it’s backed up by many studies and reports (Google “North Carolina Outer Banks bike infrastructure report”).

    And it DOES generate revenue via one of the most important revenue sources available to NC: tourism, in the form of bicycle tourism. Download and read the The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure Investments from the League of American Bicyclists site.

    Worldwide rates of obesity, emissions and fossil fuel consumption are on the increase because Big Oil and Big Auto have invested trillions of dollars over the years in selling big, gas guzzling cars to people everywhere as “progressive and modern” and characterizing bicycles as kid’s toys and transportation suitable only for poor people in third world countries.

    And they’ve done it with the help of members of our own government. Read just a few of the reports on The League of American Bicyclists Trash Talk web page.

  14. Iron_Man

    Well, we can clearly go back and forth on this ad infinitum. “Tourism dollars” is one of the most abused terms by those that feed off public funds looking to build their pet projects. From stadiums to civic centers, shopping districts to parking garages, they love “the tourist” that pays for all spending projects. Whenever I hear an elected official proclaim “It’ll pay for itself many times over thanks to the tourism it’ll generate.” I get a massive pain in my right pants pocket that seems to last for years as that project fails to bring in the dollars they projected. Those tourist studies are always based on massive amounts of “fill in the data” type assumptions, particularly here in the Midwest. We aren’t exactly Tuscany here you know. Sorry, but I’m still not buying it.

  15. BluesCat

    Clearly, you haven’t read any of that report, Iron_Man. None of the figures in it come from these “vapor tourism dollars” that I am also very familiar with, being from Arizona. Arizona depends on tourism for a good deal of its revenue, and the Phoenix metropolitan area especially has had its share of boondoggles financed by a public snookered by claims of how “this $300 million sports complex will bring BILLIONS into the economy.”

    The numbers in that League report are drawn from hard, black and white accounting data pulled from the actual financial records AFTER the earnings were made and reported. Nothing there is the wet dream of some developer. The information is so beyond reproach that I am not aware of any politicians, who are in the back pockets of Big Oil and Big Auto, disputing it.

  16. Iron_Man

    Excuse me, but I did read them. Call me a curmudgeon, but I’m still not buying it. Your claim of hard numbers are not there. Merely statements such as “Studies show….” Well I’d personally like to see those studies first hand. The devil is in the details as they say. Plus they are using places like Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina as success stories, but forgive me they were already prime areas for cycling tourism. Any of the coastal states, mountainous states, and other scenic areas are of course going to be prime bicycle tourist areas, but that doesn’t justify federal spending. Each of those regions have their own state and local governments, whose voters can easily agree to fund those projects from their own pocketbooks. They will of course be the benefactors of the earnings, so they should be on the hook for the funding. There is no need whatsoever to take money out of heartland citizen’s pockets just so Maine or Colorado can get more bike routes.

  17. BluesCat

    C’mon, Iron_Man, if you REALLY read the League report, you needed to also have taken a look at the footnotes.

    Roman numeral footnote “iii”, for instance, refers to the economic impact of bicycling in Wisconsin; a report which, on page 6, shows the amounts DOWN TO THE DOLLAR.

    Roman numeral footnote “iv” is an executive summary of the impact of bicycle touring in Maine, and uses accepted financial modeling techniques to get the numbers.

    Check out some of the rest of them.

    Good Lord, man, we continue a war in Iraq on slimmer evidence than THIS.

  18. Willis

    I don’t understand how one can get on here to comment and claim to be a cyclist and state “cars suck but taxes are worse” without the realization of the fact that millions and millions of tax dollars are spent on just that, cars. When we realize that these programs aren’t a spending spree relative to the crazy subsidization of the auto that has been occurring in our country for decades. So in this regard I agree with you Ironman….let’s stop federal spending in one of the largest areas of waste that exsits, transportation and allow localities to foot the bill if they would like paved superhighways to distant areas of the metropolis but to claim that federal spending on cycling infastructure is wasteful pet projects seems disengenuous relative to the other issues you could be tackling whose dollar amounts over decades have greatly exceeded spending on cycling related costs.

  19. Willis

    Final though….Eric Cantor unfortunately is my Congressman….I will be contacting him today.

  20. Iron_Man

    Willis, I can claim to be a cyclist because I ride my bike everyday, rain, shine, and even snow. As far as I’m concerned if you swing your leg over a saddle and pedal regularly as I do you’re a cyclist. Being a cyclist does not entitle me to anyone’s money however, no matter how much it might benefit me. I don’t state cars suck. Cars and trucks are integral to our nation’s economy thanks to interstate travel and commerce. All those things need pavement to keep going, and they are mostly paid for by the users thanks to the taxes on fuel and goods. I would like to see all the bloat and waste that goes into making our roads get cut though. I’d even like to see many roadways privatized. I’d be willing to bet the private sector would do a better job with congestion than the government does. I’m not laser focused on just this either, all waste is up for slashing. This is merely ONE of the things that I’m getting tired of paying for. We should stop spending so much money on the wars (get our guys home already), military, bailouts, Freddie and Fannie, Wall St, entitlements, that healthcare nonsense, and yes even bike paths funded by federal dollars.

    BluesCat that Wisconsin study is so disingenuous for this discussion! You are arguing your case for bike routes based on a study that shows the economic impact on that state thanks in LARGE PART to it’s manufacturing and retail sales? You’ve just made the argument for more cars if that’s the case. Because the impact of auto manufacturing and retail sales on the nation’s economy is far greater than cycling could ever dream. I went to that PDF from the Wisconsin-DOT. Come on!

    The Maine article is a complete Strawman anyway. Maine has been a cycling destination for decades thanks to the beautiful scenery and the existing roadways. It will continue to bring in millions in tourism dollars even if it never built another bike lane or bike path. That study also claims that $5 billion was spent by tourists, thus cycling represents a mere 0.72% of tourism spending. You’re all jazzed about Maine’s success of less than 1%.

  21. BluesCat

    The manufacturing and retail sales figures in the Wisconsin study are directly related to the fact that Trek is based in Waterloo. The numbers ARE all about bicycles and NOT cars or trucks or wheelbarrows or any other kind of transportation manufacturing and sales. There is nothing at all disingenuous about using the figures in that report.

    You totally missed the whole meaning of the executive summary on Maine bicycle tourism: what they stressed was for NO increase in bicycle infrastructure expenditures, but just an increase in MARKETING, the models showed that economic benefit could be increased greatly. So you are invited to imagine the benefits if they DID increase spending for bicycling.

  22. Iron_Man

    Like I said ad infinitum.

  23. Moe

    Can you guys PM each other??? This pissing contest is going nowhere.

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