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Well, is anybody shocked?

I thought most of the transfer of general money to highway TF in the past few years was also stimulus spending or the one-time interest payment. Also, is the drop off the failure to index/raise the gas tax, or has there been an actual decrease in the past few years (mostly due to non-tax related price rises)

The CMAQ money is too cute. Overall stimulus money was probably well spent.

Not shocked. Cantor has long been critical of bike sharing and unabashed about lying about it. So I'm not sure what the point of your question is.

The last HTF was made by the HIRE Act which technically is not "stimulus" money. I don't know about 2009. There has been a slight drop of in driving and more fuel efficient cars, but that could be compensated for with higher taxes. Theoretically, less driving should mean we'd save money by not having to widen roads.

Why is CMAQ too cute?

Dr. Gridlock takes up the recent issue of the GW Parkway/MVT crossing. Chris Eatough of BikeArlington recommends that "drivers be aware that there are crossings here and drive at the posted speed limit, but not stop for waiting cyclists and pedestrians in this location since it can cause confusion and even a crash."

You know, every time I hear some asshole complain that cyclists shouldn't have access to the road because many of them treat stop signs as yields, and red lights as stops, I will think of this GW Parkway situation.

The reason this situation is dangerous is that 85% of all drivers can't be bothered to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, and 99.99% of drivers dont' give a fuck about the safe, legal posted speed limit.

Seriously, y'all can go fuck yourself with a splintery stick. Your hypocrisy reeks.

Seems the Rs really want to get rid of most of USDOT and let states decide on policies. I'd honestly be willing to give that a shot since I think most states are more responsive to pressure from locals and mayors of their cities, who overwhelmingly support bike infrastructure. I'd also be interested in seeing what happens if they got rid of or greatly reduced federal gas tax. Presumably, this would open up extra taxable capacity at the state/local level, and whatever is collected could be spent locally.

Since metropolitan areas are under-represented at the federal level due to the structural bias of the Senate, localizing the taxation could be good for cities, and good for DC (remember, we have no federal reps).

The big losers would be "donee" states like Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, West Virginia, and I wouldn't be too sad about that.

I think caution on the part of cyclists and pedestrians at the GW Parkway/MVT intersection is well advised. No one should enter the intersection without making sure there is a gap.

That said, the assertion by posters in the Gridlock column to the effect that all burden for ensuring safety are on one side are ludicrous. Were that the case, it would not be a marked pedestrian crossing with mutual obligations. The ability to create dangerous circumstances for others does not in any sense absolve one from the legal and moral duty to proceed with one's vehicle with great caution in any setting where there is such a crossing and users near it who could enter the crossing.

the assertion by posters in the Gridlock column ... are ludicrous

Crickey7, I think you can pretty much add that to any Washington Post comment thread.

will, DC is pretty big donee state too.

There are two problems with just turning it over to the states.

1. States probably will invest less in biking and walking then they are currently mandated to do now. If pre-mandate funding and recission decisions are indicative of priority, most states don't value it. So, bike and ped funding will almost surely drop.

2. One problem with the federal model is that certain things don't make sense for states to handle. Each states doesn't handle it's own border policy or defense for example because that would be poorly handled and unfair. We've drawn up state boundaries rather arbitrarily and it creates some odd inequalities. States with a lot of land and few people have a higher road need/person ratio. So if they were left to their own devices they'd have to tax themselves at a high rate. DC has the unusual problem that it's roads are primarily used by non-residents who can (and often do) buy their gas outside the boundary where land and gas is cheaper. For these reasons it makes sense to divert money from one state to another, or from one county to another. There was a similar issue with school districts in Texas where some had 1/10th the money of others because of how the lines were drawn. So one school might have it's own natatorium and another has no working toilets. They passed a "Robin Hood" law to move money from rich districts to poor districts to try and balance things out a bit and people went insane. No one wins if some people are uneducated. And no one wins if some states have dangerous, failing or closed roads. When I drive across South Dakota I want to know that the interstate system won't just shut down west of Mitchel. Transportation policy really needs to be national, and that includes a biking and walking element. It also needs to be local. So I actually think we have a good mix.

Some states are going to be donors and some will be donees, and while that may not be "fair" it's still right. DC is a donor state to border patrols. It's a donor state to volcano monitoring. It's a donor state to agriculture (since there are no working farms here anymore) and mining. Etc... And that's as it should be.

It's a bit misleading to view DC as a donee "state" when that situation is largely because we aren't allowed to have a commuter tax or to tax federal land. That pretty much guts our potential tax income in a way no real state must deal with.

despite the plethora of numbers, I really doubt bikesharing will have an impact on congestion or air quality. The barcelona example you quoted the other day is an extreme outlier.

Bike share is good for:

1) mild subsidy for "car-free" living in cities
2) very positive PR for biking in general, which then has multiplier effects on reducing emissions
3) boosting tourism use. That part hasn't been predicted by the euro-models, but it a huge factor in DC.

DC bikeshare is on tract to almost break even this year on operating expenses. *Capital expenses could have been met with a loan, rather than looking at mini-goverment grants.

*one time Living Social money counted as revenue this year

I'd add a 4) to your list. Bikeshare is like Bikesnob's cultural mulch. It contributes to a vibe of urban energy, where youthful people can hop on a bike and move from one scene to another effortlessly and with panache. So it's PR for urban living, not just tourism or bike-centric life.

charlie, I think there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that bikeshare makes more bike commuters and studies out of Montreal, Paris and Barcelona all back this up. It moves some trips from car to bikeshare and so it reduces both emissions and congestion. Is it an enormous change? Probably not. But we're not talking about a lot of money either. I think it compares well to other CMAQ funded programs.

Capital expenses could have been met with a loan, rather than looking at mini-goverment grants.

Or we could've had a bake sale. But that isn't what happened. Trying to arrange a loan would have likely delayed implementation. CMAQ is designed to fund programs not unlike CaBi, so I don't see a problem in using CMAQ money to do that.

If Eric Cantor wants to kill CMAQ funding, then he's basically saying that gas taxes shouldn't try to mitigate any of the negative externalities of driving. As it is, he's just playing politics - which is something we totally have time for since there really are no problems to solve.

@washcycle, I fully agree with you on the Barcelona studies. However Montreal, Paris (to a lesser degree) I still disagree. When looked at the context of the entire metro area, bikeshare mode's is very very small.

There are plenty of good reasons to bring in bikeshare. Improving air quality? Not one of them -- and when you play tricks like that you give Cantor et al talking points.

SAying bikeshare is a subsidy for middle class white taxpayers, however, and I think Cantor would defend it to the death. Make sure the world knows Obama HATES bikeshare and expect to see you funding double in a year.

looked at the context of the entire metro area, bikeshare mode's is very very small.

I'm not sure why I would look at it in the context of the entire metro area. The question is how much congestion mitigation and air quality improvement does one get per dollar. It's a small amount of improvement perhaps, but it's also trivial amount of money... when looked at the context of the entire metro area.

It's starting to smell like the NPS will simply close off the crosswalks. It's the path of least resistance.

It would be great if Bill Line and all the Park Service decisionmakers got out from behind their desks one morning and watched these crosswalks -- including the outbound and inbound ones from the Memorial Bridge. Maybe bring Dr. Gridlock too. Just for kicks take a radar gun, and see how many motorists are driving anywhere near the speed limit.


DC is pretty big donee state too.

DC is a statistical anomaly: the Federal government spends a shit-ton on salaries and support infrastructure for government workforce. A tiny sliver of those government workers live in DC and have DC-taxable wages.

Sorry, anon beat me to it.

It's a bit misleading to view DC as a donee "state" when that situation is largely because we aren't allowed to have a commuter tax or to tax federal land.

I think this was just in reference to fuel taxes and the HTF. And that has nothing to do with a commuter tax.

oboe, same comment. I'm talking about only the fuel tax/HTF issue. We're actually the biggest donee state by percentage I think (and by a long shot), but you're right tha we're a statistical anomaly. That's my point about state lines being somewhat arbitrary and so an odd way to divide every thing up.


So are traffic models around light timing, left turn lanes and other car trip inducing 'improvements' really any better for air quality? Feel free to call out how well CMAQ achieves it broader goals, but don't fall for Cantor's petty political posturing by singling out bike projects. If anything, many CMAQ funded projects reference removing 'car equivalents' from the road as a measurement when bike projects actually remove real cars.

CMAQ is routinely under-obligated by the states. Of what is spent, bike/ped only makes up 5% despite being very cost-effective given the current measurements. To single out bike sharing, which is a teeny tiny amount, is just the same sort of childish antic Cantor is becoming known for. I hope VA voters are taking note.

As for bike sharing, it doesn't have the same mode shift away from single occupancy cars as say a new transit system would, but the investment also isn't nearly as costly. I'm not sure what modeling DDOT/MWCOG is using, but I would hope its factoring in savings from the over capacity transit system during peak hours. Bike share also for easier, faster and cheaper connections that transit does not make.

It is appropriate to ask what modes CaBi rides supplanted. I suspect the greatest shift was from Metro, walking and cabs, with personal auto trips behind these three.

To the extent it supplanted walking and Metro, it's close to zero-sum. Two of these four do lessen congestion (both along the travel corridor and for personal auto use, in looking for parking) and air pollution in precisely those areas where it has the greatest impact.

In the final analysis, I think the data would show actual quantifiable impact on traffic and air quality is pretty modest so far.

I think the data would show actual quantifiable impact on traffic and air quality is pretty modest so far.

As is the cost.

Of course.

The point remains that to justify expenditure of public funds for CaBi, one should not overstate certain purported benefits. It might be better to view these as expednitures that boost the quality of life in the denser urban areas at this point, with indirect benefits from encouraging people to live in a more sustainable way.

Not that "sustainable" or "diversity" will ever leave Cantor's lips without one corner being curled up in disdain.

The point remains that to justify expenditure of public funds for CaBi, one should not overstate certain purported benefits.

Sure. But I don't see anyone overstating. For CMAQ projects, I see CaBi comparing very well on a cost-benefit bases on both congestion and air quality.

If we're going to go for a separated crossing can we at least make sure that its the cars that have the most uphill to deal with?

Honestly, we should ride our bikes to his district, Richmond, and show him what it means to share the road.

As for all federal spending, Washington DC ranks quite a lot lower than people think. http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/11051/how-much-federal-money-does-dc-actually-get/

If you factored out the Federal Presence, DC would be even lower. Biggest winners are MS, LA. The South should be careful what is wishes for.

Sorry this is so late.

Some numbers:

Bicing (barcelona): 9 million kg of CO2 reduced. Bicing has about 6000 bikes, so it is about six times larger than DC.

(I've been suspicious of these numbers, because it is impossible to quantify whether a car trip/bus trip/metro trip has been displaced. But go with it)

cost: again, let me stupid and say 6 times that of DC. 5 million x 6 = 30M capital. Operating: again based on DC about 10M a year.

Denver light timing: cost $4M (one time)


reduce CO (carbon monoxide) by either 600,000 KG or 1.4M kg. Also reduce travel time by 2.2 Million hours. They don't have a CO2 estimate, but if you assume 1 gallon of gas for each hour, that would be something like 40M kg of co2.


These numbers are a fool's game. feel free to attack them.

My point again is that bike sharing isn't low hanging fruit for air quality. Bike trails may be since they have much larger usage models. defend bikeshare and demand it, but don't look at these funny potts (federal transit subsidies and air quality) to fund them.


you're not reducing the travel distance, just the travel time. There is probably some increase in fuel efficiency related to that (just as highway driving is more efficient than city driving, but nothing like what you've estimated).

My point again is that bike sharing isn't low hanging fruit for air quality.

I disagree, but so what? There is also the CM part of CMAQ funding. And arguing that this isn't the very best use of CMAQ money because there may be a better use which you can't identify is not a particularly strong argument.

If your point is that government doesn't always make the perfect decision then you've wasted our time.

What's important is that bike sharing mitigates congestion and improves air quality - which is the goal of the program - so it's a fine use of the money. And DC considered other goals as well (health, mobility etc..) that elevated this above other CMAQ programs. What's wrong with that? FHWA doesn't seem to think there's anything wrong with that. You're the only one who thinks FHWA should hold out for the ideal program and basically nullify the local governments ability to choose it's own goals and own uses.

And the Denver light timing project only last for 3-4 years before it has to be updated again. CaBi should last longer than that without any additional federal support.

As I said, the numbers are a fools game. But I suspect no matter how you slice it, the Denver program comes out better.

My point isn't about FHWA. It is about local leaders stepping up and saying, yes, bikeshare is worth a million. Or two. Looking around for federal grants is the silly part. As you have consistently said, it is cheap, and the benefits aren't linked to air quality.

So local leaders should have pulled money from some other place to fully fund Capital Bikeshare. And then, what happens to the CMAQ money? Do we just forfeit it? Or do we then find more money to create a match for the CMAQ money? And what project do we then do? What should we defund to make all this happen?

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