Congress tends to think about things in separate buckets. It’s either a funding concern about the environment, transportation, healthcare, the economy. These issues tend not to be considered or funded together or holistically.
But the best way to think about transportation, for example, probably isn’t to consider what we need to do about our roads. Transportation is intertwined with so many aspects of our lives.
Take our healthcare: the Centers for Disease Control notes that at least six of the 15 leading causes of death in the U.S. in 2009 may have been influenced by transportation behavior:
1. Heart disease
Unfortunately, it appears our health will have to wait. The new transportation bill than becomes law on October 1 and will remain in effect for two years “will reverse years of progress on biking and walking policy and eliminate all dedicated funding for local safety projects such as bike lanes, bike paths and sidewalks,” according to the membership-based organization Bikes Belong.
The bill eliminates funding for the Safe Routes to School program. It also eliminates most of the funding for wildly popular programs that make streets less dangerous and boost local economic development. Spending by states on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure will take a major hit, which is ironic at a time when demand is growing for real estate located in bikable, walkable communities and fewer young people are bothering to obtain driver’s licenses.
Bicycling and walking levels fell 66% between 1960 and 2009, while obesity levels increased by 156%. Hopefully our leaders will find a way to take these numbers and turn them into an interconnected and repaired infrastructure grid that makes it easier for a healthier public to move around to all the places we need to go.
Photo by BC Gov Photos