A Treehugger post led me to send this message to Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters as part of the League of American Bicyclist Action Alert.

Dear Secretary of Transportation Peters:

As a daily bicycle commuter, let me assure you that bicycle paths are indeed transportation infrastructure. I was extremely disappointed to hear you claim the opposite & lump money spent on bicycle trails into the category of wasteful earmarks during your recent interview on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. I am able to bicycle 5 1/2 miles to work nearly every workday, thereby promoting the social good by reducing traffic congestion, decreasing the demand for gasoline, & reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, largely because a well-maintained bicycle path exists between the city in which I live and the city in which I work.

While I am dismayed by the tragedy of the August 1st I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, and by what it may indicate about the state of automobile infrastructure in the U.S., and by the rising tide of self-serving Congressional earmarks in transportation funding and in general, I must take exception to your characterization of building bicycle trails as wasteful pork-barrel spending. There’s an enormous difference between repairing a lighthouse or building Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere” using transportation funds and building a bicycle trail with transportation funds. Multimodal transportation options, especially environmentally and socially friendly options such as bicycle transportation, along with viable public transportation, must be included in any comprehensive, sustainable transportation program.

I believe it to be irresponsible for you to insinuate that federal spending on bicycle trails is not transportation-related or in any way responsible for the I-35W bridge collapse. With Andy Clarke, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists, I urge you to publicly correct the misleading impressions your remarks gave and use this as an opportunity to promote the use of bicycling as a viable, inexpensive, and socially and environmentally responsible transportation option.

Keith Gillette