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Memo to Rand Paul: Want Bridges in Better Shape? Invest in Cycling

10:05 AM PDT on October 28, 2011

Forget that it represents a tiny fraction of the transportation budget. Or that it improves health and safety. The major source of federal funding for better bicycling and walking — Transportation Enhancements — is the program Republican senators love to hate.

First Senator Tom Coburn sought its elimination. Then Senator John McCain targeted it for restrictions. NowRand Paul is attacking the popular safety program as “frivolous,” saying the money should be transferred to bridge repair. But if these senators really care about maintaining America’s bridges, maybe the smarter move would be to invest more in bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland explains how increasing the share of biking and walking trips can actually reduce maintenance costs and extend the useful life of road infrastructure:

With all this talk of bridges and funding, I think it’s a good time to recall a story we did in April 2010about the impact bicycling has had on the Hawthorne Bridge. The story was based off an analysis by Portland Bureau of Transportation’s bike coordinator Roger Geller. Geller’s theory, which he backs up with statistics and analysis you can see below, is that the Hawthorne Bridge has been able to carry more people with less traffic and at lower costs in infrastructure investment because of one major factor — bike traffic.

Maus goes on:

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