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Is it realistic to believe that given the current administration in Annapolis, Maryland biking might not be hurt so much by this? In other words, the problem, as I understand it, is that it allows states to gut bike/ped funding. Most states are quick to succumb to that temptation. But O'Malley has been pretty committed to non-motorized transportation.

Hmm, I see this was discussed yesterday. OK, I'll have hopes for how things turn out locally.

Fort Belvior is an ideal place for bike sharing. It's mostly flat. Car traffic is sane. Major roads have paved shoulders. (No need to ride on US 1 either.)
BTW, it's a pretty good place to ride through but you neeed a government issued ID (driver's license works) to get in.

I looked at the statutory formulae but I have not run accross how they are actually applied. It appears that there has been a change in how the statutes deal with interstate lane miles.

But one thing that really jumped out was that SAFE-T-LU allocated 10% of the money based on the ratio of lane miles to population. That seems insane. So: If one state had 5% of the lanes and 1% of the population, while the other state had 95% of the lanes and 99% of the population, the state with 5% of the lanes would get 85% of the money because its ratio would be 5 while the other states is about 1. I think that this formula is only 5% in the new bill. But talk about reversed priorities.

More generally, alot of the formula is based on lane miles, rather than VMT. Clearly what we need to do is see whether US DOT could count bike-lane miles in the formula, in which case bike lanes really would pay for themselves.

Jim, that sounds like a good idea. I'd settle for a bike lane or sidepath counting for half a regular traffic lane in the calculations. Or a quarter, if that's the best fraction that could be done. Just get them in the formula somehow as a transportation "lane" somehow, and let things happen. Argue about the fractions each time the bill is revised.

It's supposed to be a transportation funding bill, after all, and bike lanes or sidepaths are an important part of the road transportation network, where they exist.

On other sites, I read about how some people who live in small cities/rural areas can't run or bike outside of their towns because of the way the roads are built (i.e., only highways and high-speed thoroughfares). That means that despite mile after mile of open space, they are forced to get into a car and drive if they want to move around outside of the town center. That is completely backward.

That situation forces people to drive or remain shut-ins, other than for short trips in town. I get the impression that it's much easier to bike in some of the major cities than in some rural areas based on comments and reports I've read from people across the country.

The D.C./Arlington region has pretty good bike infrastructure when compared to most of the country. I think people in some suburban, rural and exurban areas will be affected the most if the House bill becomes law without substantial modification. While that won't affect me personally, I don't think it's right to force people to drive for almost every trip. And the lack of infrastructure will continue to keep many people sedentary and unhealthy, further driving up the enormous healthcare costs in this country.

It's no secret that we as a country waste hundreds of billions of dollars a year treating avoidable conditions that are primarily caused by bad diet, inactivity and yes, smoking too. It's short-sighted to cut out or enable the dismantling of bike funding in order to have a little more money for road building. That so-called savings will contribute to the massive health bill because of inactivity. Those health costs are borne by everyone who pays for private insurance and everyone who pays into government insurance plans. That's a big part of the reason why health premiums go up every year, why total health spending has gone up most years in the last 3 decades, and why onset of diseases like Type II diabetes has skyrocketed over the last 3 decades.

Sure, I'd like to see the government be more efficient, but in general terms. Saving some dollars on cutting bike funding while we continue to throw away hundreds of billions of dollars to treat avoidable obesity-related conditions like Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, early onset of heart disease, etc. is insane.

Non-political comment:

Padma Lakshmi is pretty. Pee Wee Herman looks old. And creepy.

An interesting side story: President Obama announced the creation of a Veteran Jobs Corps conservation program at an appearance in Pentagon City today. The program would employ 20,000 military veterans to work on conservation projects as well as the repair and rehabilitation of trails, roads, levees, recreation facilities and other assets.

It sounds like the VJC could spend some of their time and money working on bike trails across the country. Hopefully this could help to alleviate the damage done if bike funding is gutted by particular states. Even if VJC doesn't build new trails, they could rescue neglected trails, bringing some of those back into use.

Michael, I would not read purposefulness into the fact that it's hard to get around without a car in rural areas. Things are just farther apart and rural roads usually lack shoulders. Even those roads that predate cars are the same--they're just built to the minimum width necessary, for cost reasons.

I'm not only referring to commuting. Some people say that they can't run outside of their rural towns because of lack of pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

Agree with Michael that rural areas more difficult to run, jog, walk, bike. Roads narrow, speeds high, no sidepaths.

Heck even a dirt path alongside the road right of way would be OK for jogging or mountain biking, but those are often impossible to create due to ditches, fences, guard rails, lack of mowing.

Michael H. -- it depends on shoulders. If arterials in more rural areas have shoulders then there is no problem riding, except for distances, e.g., there is an article somewhere on Davis, CA and why people in the county don't bicycle much (distances between activity centers).

In Maryland, Talbot County has an extensive set of wide shoulders on many state roads and the County tourism department pushes bike tourism very heavily. But it also supports intra-county bike transportation by residents.

- http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/4684349813/

I think one of the reasons I wasn't kept around in Balt. County to do the phase 3 bike plan in the rural county is that I wanted to push the issue of wide shoulders, which the Valleys Planning Council is dead set against (the county's rural road guidelines already reflect this) because they see adding shoulders (promoted by FHWA as a safety measure)as road widening and promoting more traffic.

- http://www.ruralsafety.umn.edu/clearinghouse/

- http://www.naco.org/programs/csd/Pages/RuralRoadSafety.aspx

The shoulders thing that Richard mentions does play a factor. The problem here is that the states all have different standards when it comes to shoulders. Some, including Virginia, rarely (if ever) include paved shoulders on their 2-lane highways. Others, like Maryland, do include paved shoulders on much of their state highway system. Then there are others like Iowa that have shoulders, but they're gravel instead of paved.

Virginia's saving grace, which also exists in some other states, is their extensive network of paved secondary routes.

Don't forget that Bill's father Bud Shuster -- king of pork barrel transportation projects -- has a highway named for him in Pa.

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