Should biking advocates be angry that Senator Tom Coburn included two bike paths in his latest list of stimulus "waste?" Or thrilled that the Senator singled them out?
As reported by The Washington Times, Coburn said, "When we run $1.4 trillion deficits, the money we spend ought to be a high priority for the American people as a whole."
What he really means is that, because he doesn't get bikes, no one else does either.
His report calls-out an extension of Minnesota's Cedar Lake Bike Trail that would allow people to commute to and from downtown Minneapolis all the way to the new Minnesota Twins stadium. It's a project supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I guess a better bike connection to Minneapolis's central business district doesn't count as infrastructure to some folks.
And he calls-out the Meridian Bridge conversion to bike and pedestrian use. A newer bridge now carries automobile traffic over the Missouri River between Yankton, SD, and Nebraska. Hmm...demolish Yankton's signature landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places? Or use Recovery Act money to connect an extensive network of trails on the Nebraska side with a similarly extensive network of trails on the South Dakota side?
As Liz Oxhorn, a spokeswoman for Vice President Biden put it:
"The real question here is whether Recovery Act critics will at long last acknowledge that well over 99 percent of the projects are sound, effective and working as promised."
I couldn't agree more. We've worked hard this year to get our Recovery Act dollars out to the states quickly and effectively. Yes, some of those projects include bike paths, a key ingredient in our livability initiative to allow people to live, work, and get around without a car.
We don't call that waste; we call it progress.