Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dear Secretary Peters, You Are Wrong.

I've been following this story since Streetsblog picked it up. Since Secretary Peters doesn't think that biking and walking is transportation, then what is? In her mind, and the mind of the Oil Industrial Complex, anything that doesn't serve cars is worthless to them. Salon had an article recently discussing the issue and seems to support the cycling community.

So why is Peters suddenly taking on bikes and pedestrians? Her comments are especially odd since she sang the praises of bikes as transportation in a speech at the National Bike Summit in Washington, in March 2002. Has she simply forgotten the glory of two wheels? One theory: Peters is on a campaign to quash the idea of raising the gas tax, as she editorialized recently in the Washington Post. A key proponent of raising the gas tax to fund bridge restorations in the wake of the Minneapolis bridge collapse is Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, who has advocated for bike and pedestrian paths in his district. By putting a culture-war spin on the bridge collapse, Peters is hoping to run his gas tax proposal off the road.
So once again its about money and the conservatives are going to their old fall back of fiscal responsibility which is a laudable goal, but recently has been used to block programs they don't like. Raise it up 5 cents Mr. Oberstar. Even Mr. Greenspan agrees because as he says in this New York Times article from 2006:

Until now. In late September, as he spoke to a group of business executives in Massachusetts, a question was posed as to whether he’d like to see an increase in the federal gasoline tax, which has stood at 18.4 cents a gallon since 1993. “Yes, I would,” Mr. Greenspan responded with atypical clarity. “That’s the way to get consumption down. It’s a national security issue.”
A national security issue. Seems like cyclists are doing their part, so why are they so maligned by Peters and the other road warriors? Well because like they said, walking and biking aren't transportation, and in their mind, transit isn't either. It just takes money away from their dream of a concrete covered wasteland.

Note: As I was typing in the tags for this I was about to use the term alternative transportation. However this seems to me like a negative frame that gives biking, walking, and transit second class status. So what do you all think, should we change it to primary transportation? Since walking is the first thing we do, even to get to our cars, our bikes, and our trains and buses?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To me the car is the (less desirable) alternate form of transportation. We must re-frame the debate and stop using the label alternate to describe anything that is not a car.