Wednesday, January 25, 2012

State of the Union for Bikes?

Beyond bikes, music, and home brewing, politics is my other big hobby. So like most political junkies, I was glued to my TV last night to see the President's State of the Union. When the president of the executive branch of the U.S. government talks about something, it gets on a lot of people's radar. It doesn't mean that things will immediately start happening, but it does give legitimacy to any issue. That's why my biggest wish for this speech was for bikes and bike infrastructure to be mentioned.

Not surprisingly, it didn't happen. But I believe it deserved a mention, if only to increase visibility for the issue. Politicians always talk about how the roads are crumbling, bridges are almost falling down and rail needs big bucks, but in many places, bike lanes don't even get to be in disrepair because they don't exist yet. That seems like the lowest-hanging fruit out there. I think it would show great vision for the president to link bike infrastructure with other things like rail, bridges, roads, etc, and mention them together in the future.
I understand that protected bike lanes, bike boulevards, bike parkings, etc, are more of a city issue. But the federal government can still play a big role (Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has taken many steps in the right direction), both in setting a national agenda and by creating broad incentives that will encourage cities and states to do more and do it faster.
So how about it, Mr. President? Are you looking for a relatively cheap way to improve the U.S. infrastructure base? To improve public health, quality of life in cities, reduce air pollution and oil imports? Save money by reducing wear & tear on roads and reducing lost productivity due to congestion?

Sounds like a good deal to me.

You can read the text of the SOTU speech here.

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