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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Republicans Threaten San Francisco Pedestrian and Bike Projects

Posted By on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 9:15 AM


It's not news that America has a lot of problems, foremost among them cyclists and pedestrians being coddled too much by the government.

Or at least that seems to be the view of our Tea Partying lawmakers who are trying to gut federal spending for road improvements for pedestrians and cyclists -- even if that means holding hostage the entire federal transportation program.

In July, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) introduced a bill that would strip from federal transportation spending all monies set aside for creating safer pedestrian routes -- which would trickle down to San Francisco, hampering the city's efforts to make the roads safer for everyone.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose says Republicans do this every budget cycle:  Bloviate about the evils of nonautomobile transport spending. Republicans feel about funding bike lanes like many Democrats feel about having funded a war in Iraq.

It's worth noting that during the past year or so San Francisco has become a vastly easier city to get around sans the automobile, thanks to new bike lane projects everywhere. The latest such improvement includes two-way access on the east end of McAllister Street for cyclists, buses, and taxis. After we tried it out Wednesday morning, we can tell you that it does hasten the trip from the outer neighborhoods to downtown by a couple of minutes while allowing cyclists to avoid two very dangerous left-hand turns.

But are projects like these now  threatened by Republican saber-rattling in Washington? Rose responded to our inquiry via e-mail:

It is our understanding that following House approval of a six-month extension of safetea-lu, Republicans in the Senate are threatening, led by Sen Tom Coburn, to eliminate funding for "transportation enhancements" including bike ped projects. This has been proposed by Congress in the past, but has failed. It is unclear specifically how any approved legislation would affect San Francisco, but it is something we will closely monitor and work with our representatives to prevent.

But it seems with Republicans in the driver's seat, they could succeed in running cyclists and pedestrians off the road.

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Matt Smith


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