After repeated prodding, I responded to a League of American Bicyclists Action Alert with the following update to my standard active transportation diatribe:

Dear Representative Dold:

As one of your constituents, I urge you to vote for the Petri Amendment to H.R. 7, the Transportation Improvement Program. This bi-partisan amendment provides states the flexibility to create balanced transportation systems that include bicycling and walking. 

The United States must recognize that the automobile, while important, is not our only transportation option. We must work to create an integrated multi-modal transportation system with coordinated interconnection of sidewalks, bicycle paths, and public transit to create a safe and efficient transportation network for nonmotorized traffic. Investments in such “active transportation” projects have multiple benefits that serve our long-term best interests:

  • 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.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle traffic lanes reduce injuries and deaths. The Transportation for America report Dangerous by Design 2011 tallies more than 688,000 pedestrian injuries during the last decade and 47,000 pedestrian deaths (67 percent of which occurred on roads eligible to receive federal funding for improvements, making this a federal, not just state or local issue).
  • 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 imports supporting corrupt, totalitarian states.

I believe that going forward, our new investments should heavily favor making viable for more Americans healthier, less polluting, safer, 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 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 our transportation funds 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 in order to direct future growth in a healthier, sustainable, and systemically cost-efficient direction. 

Thank you for supporting the Petri Amendment to H.R. 7 and advocating for integrative, active transportation solutions.