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Peters Revisits Her Bikes “Are Not Transportation” Comment

3:30 PM EST on November 13, 2007

peters.jpgCourtesy of commenter Steve, we have an update on U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters and her anti-bike comments from this past summer.

As many Streetsblog readers no doubt recall, in August Peters made what looked like an attempt to score political points in the wake of the Minnesota bridge collapse by stating that Congress had been spending too much on frivolities such as museums, lighthouses, and bike routes, rather than transportation infrastructure.

Said Peters, during an interview on PBS:

Well, there's about probably some 10 percent to 20 percent of the current spending that is going to projects that really are not transportation, directly transportation-related. Some of that money is being spent on things, as I said earlier, like bike paths or trails.

About.com bike blogger David Fiedler posted the response he (and presumably others) received when he contacted Peters following that interview, in which she says her remarks "were part of a much larger critique of the processes by which
investment decisions are increasingly being made at the Federal level."

"Too often," Peters wrote, "political influence and power are guiding transportation spending priorities, instead of merit, competition, data, and analysis." No argument there -- and it must be noted that this controversy erupted just days after Peters pledged $354 million toward congestion pricing in NYC.

Peters also says in her letter that "bicyclists and pedestrians are legitimate and welcome users of our Nation's transportation system," and "a healthy part of the solution to congestion in our urban areas."

Fiedler remains unimpressed.

[T]hat statement is going to ring hollow until funding specifically for bicycle infrastructure is more than just a tiny fraction of the nation's massive transportation budget. I still think it is baloney that Peters pointed to all the wasteful spending on bike trails as the reason an interstate bridge fell down. Give me a break.

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