What they said:
The Washington Examiner’s “Daily Outrage” attacked Senator Menendez Wednesday, February 24 for supporting, along with his fellow senator from New Jersey, a $2.3 million upgrade to bicycle paths that will connect New Jersey to Pennsylvania. The editorial states that, “the grant comes from $1.5 billion in transportation funds awarded as part of the federal stimulus. Unless the new economy means we’re using rickshaws for shipping, it’s unclear how bike paths will ‘stimulate’ the economy.”
What’s the issue:
The paper fails to recognize bicycling as a legitimate form of transportation for starters, but also misses the point of theTIGER grants. According to Secretary LaHood the purpose of the TIGER funds was to:
help build high-priority innovative transportation projects that were difficult to fund through traditional programs – projects that create jobs, stimulate economic activity and help develop livable communities…From freight rail to streetcars, from roadways to waterways to bikeways, we are affirming the truly multi-modal nature of American transportation.
What are the facts:
The bicycle industry supports nearly 1.1 million jobs and generates an estimated $17.7 billion in federal, state, and local taxes. This includes the over 140 bike shops and major bike manufacturer in New Jersey. Bike facilities are great at stimulating the ever more competitive tourism dollars. For example, the Outer Banks area of North Carolina saw a 9 to 1 return on their investment in bike paths and widened shoulders.
TIGER grants were also about sustainable, innovative designs that improve livability. Something that increases lanes on existing highways doesn’t do enough.
What they could have said:
The Washington Examiner should be promoting the new direction of the Department of Transportation in taking livability and multi-modal initiatives into consideration. It is a (literal) breathe of fresh air. Not only could they have applauded the funding award, but they should have urged Senator Menendez to join the Senate Bike Caucus to further become involved in making America bicycle-friendly.
We urge New Jersey League members to contact Senator Menendez to thank him for his support of the funding and to continue to support future pro-bike economic stimulus initiatives. Also, contact Washington Examiner editors to let them know that bicycling is important to our economy.
Jeff PeelPeel joined the League in March 2008 as a Program Specialist for the Bicycle Friendly Communities program. Peel has a BA in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi.
State and Local Advocacy Coordinator