I sent the following recycled text to Governor Pat Quinn as part of the League of American Bicyclist’s Transportation Enhancement Funding Action Alert.
As an Illinois resident whose regular bicycle commute to work is made possible by bicycle trails and sidewalks, I am writing to urge you to allocate the Transportation Enhancement funding that the U.S. Congress has provided through the economic recovery bill not only for repairs to our existing roads and upgrades to our public transportation systems, but in active transportation alternatives by significantly expanding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Such active transportation projects provide compelling benefits both in the short-term and long term.
In the short-term:
- Pedestrian & bicycle projects can get money into the economy quickly due to their smaller scale. Furthermore, projects are more likely to benefit local engineering and construction firms, as well as the local “Main Street” economy.
- Because the ratio of labor to material is greater in bicycle and pedestrian transportation infrastructure than in automobile infrastructure, these projects net more jobs per dollar spent, making them a more efficient in terms of job-creation, which is so vital to stem our increases in unemployment.
In the long-term:
- Sidewalks, pathways, and bike lanes create traffic patterns favoring downtowns as destinations for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Building pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure helps local businesses and is an investment in local economies.
- Active transportation promotes energy efficiency, stronger communities, and healthier citizens. It decreases greenhouse gas and other pollution, traffic congestion, suburban sprawl, and dependence upon oil from corrupt, totalitarian states.
While I support the use of stimulus funds to repair and improve existing roads, bridges, and highways, I believe that going forward, our new investments should heavily favor making viable for more Americans healthier, less polluting, and more energy-efficient transportation. As a regular bicycle commuter, I know first hand the value of having a dedicated pedestrian and bicycle trail within a block of both my home and office. I am further fortunate enough to live within walking distance of commuter rail service, giving me a public transportation alternative when bicycling is not viable. We must use this opportunity to open these transportation alternatives to the majority of our citizens, rather than a fortunate few. We must increase investments in beneficial alternatives to our current automobile-centric system. To do otherwise by simply throwing money at traditional automobile-centric transportation projects may provide short-term benefit, but wastes the opportunity to direct future growth in a healthier and more sustainable direction.
Thankfully, we do not have to sacrifice our short-term economic recovery for our long-term best interests. Funding for this category of transportation infrastructure provides just the kind of high-impact, job-producing projects we need now, while also serving the long-term best interest of Illinois and our country. Thank you for directing Transportation Enhancement funding toward bicycle, pedestrian, & other efficient multi-modal transportation infrastructure.