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Highwayman Inhofe Still Wants to Rob Bike/Ped Funding From Transpo Bill

10:38 AM PDT on June 3, 2011

Last week, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) briefed reporters on the points of consensus reached by the four leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee with regard to the transportation bill. In answer to a question by Streetsblog, she said that guaranteed federal funding for bike and pedestrian programs would be in the bill. She made it clear that bicycling and walking were important modes of transportation that deserve “good attention” in the bill.

Some advocates doubted she was speaking for all members of the committee, especially ranking Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who has repeatedly attacked bicycle funding and othertransportation enhancement projects as wasteful and inappropriate recipients of federal money.

Those skeptics appear to be right. A Tulsa newspaper reported earlier this week:

Differences also cropped up between [Boxer and Inhofe] on projects such as bike paths and walkways.

Boxer said all modes of transportation should be covered, while Inhofe made it clear the committee should keep its focus on projects such as bridges and highways.

“She was not speaking for me,” he said.

Committee staff had followed up Boxer’s comments with a disclaimer that the bike/ped section was still being written, though they didn’t overtly dispute her assertion that active transportation funding would be preserved in the bill. They won’t give any further comment since the issues are still under negotiation.

“We hope the federal government will continue strongly investing in safer and more livable streets,” said Michael Murphy of Transportation Alternatives. “We don’t think that street safety is a partisan issue and we hope it won’t become one.”

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