Wednesday, September 22, 2010

AAA Pushes to Cut Bike & Ped Funding. Speak Up Now!

The below message comes from the good people at the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy via our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. You should also know that the impetus behind this push to cut bike/ped planning is coming from the AAA Mid-Atlantic Offices which has an unfortunate history of opposing spending on bike/ped projects.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) wants Congress to cut long-standing programs that support trails, biking and walking in order to divert those funds to the highway system. (Read the background.)

These programs have played a major role in the development of more than 19,000 miles of rail-trail across the country, most likely including your favorite local trail. These trails and other walking and bicycling facilities allow individuals across the country to enjoy the outdoors and safely and easily travel without a car for many short trips—while saving money and gas, and getting exercise in the process.

AAA has forgotten that bicyclists and trail lovers drive, support AAA, pay gas taxes and want balanced transportation systems that provide the choice to get around in a variety of ways.

Help us help them remember! Sign the Petition

Petition sponsored by the Rails to Trails Conservancy

8 comments:

Kati said...

Hi there, I work for AAA Mid-Atlantic and I wanted to clarify that they are not for cutting funds but for changing where they come from.


• In Don’s July-August AAA World column entitled “Use The Highway Trust Fund to Pay Only for Highways”, Don discusses the huge annual shortfalls this trust fund is suffering--$89 billion just to maintain our existing roads and bridges.
• The gist of his comments are that since Congress has been unwilling to increase the gas tax to fund for all that is now being paid for by the trust fund, it time to consider limiting the things the Fund pays for--to stop making the federal highway trust funds “more flexible” and have them just pay for highways and related expenses as was originally intended.
• He does not say that other modes should not be funded, but suggests they should no longer be funded from the Highway Trust Fund, but should be funded from the general fund.
• He says:

What Rep. Oberstar’s (bill) version is expected to do, is further expand the scope of projects on which federal Highway Trust Fund money can be spent.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what each federal reauthorization since 1991 has done—make federal highway funds more “flexible.” That so-called flexibility means using gas taxes not just for highways, but for “non-motorized” transportation as well – including sidewalks, hiking and bike trails—as well as for transit and even completely unrelated projects such as museums.

All of this flexibility over the last two years dovetails—not coincidently—with an increasingly deteriorating highway system…

He concludes this by asking: “So why not let the Highway Trust Fund pay for our highway as intended, and let general revenues address the other expenses.”

• Does he blame bikes for the $89 billion shortfall? No, bike trails are just part of a list along with several other things including transit, which is the huge non-highway expense.
• Do we think bike trails, hiking trails, sidewalks, museums and transit ought to be funded? Of course.
• Don did not in any ways suggest we should stop funding any of the list of items, but simply change the federal account from which they are paid to improve road conditions and motorist safety
• But Don’s column proposes a realistic answer to better fund our highways, given government’s steadfast refusal to increase gas taxes, which AAA has supported. If we’re not going to expand revenue, then let’s reduce the number of things the Highway Trust Fund is expected to pay for.
• It is critical to remember that when road and bridge conditions deteriorate, motorists die, bridges collapse, cars hit potholes causing billions of dollars in damage collectively, etc. Poor maintenance of highways is a very real contributing factor.
• To suggest Don’s comments represent an anti-bike tirade, or is anti-bike at all, is just patently not true. Over the years AAA has been a leading advocate for pedestrian and bike safety, with AAA School Safety Patrols, crossing guard training, bicycle rodeos for children, etc.
• In response to Keith Laughlin, president of Rails to Trails Conservancy, who wrote AAA President Bob Darbelnet about Don’s column, Darbelnet noted:

AAA’s positions are clear: seek support for a transportation system that provides choices and multi-modal opportunities, which is affordable and accessible for all users and facilitates personal travel needs.

• Don and AAA Mid-Atlantic completely concur. The question is, how to pay for them and, clearly we disagree with Mr. Laughlin’s proposed means of paying for bike trails, but we don’t disagree with building them at all.

Kati said...

Hi, I work for AAA Mid-Atlantic and I want to clarify this matter as no where did AAA say to cut these programs.

A bit of background: In Don’s July-August AAA World column entitled “Use The Highway Trust Fund to Pay Only for Highways”, Don discusses the huge annual shortfalls this trust fund is suffering--$89 billion just to maintain our existing roads and bridges.
•The gist of his comments are that since Congress has been unwilling to increase the gas tax to fund for all that is now being paid for by the trust fund, it time to consider limiting the things the Fund pays for--to stop making the federal highway trust funds “more flexible” and have them just pay for highways and related expenses as was originally intended.
•He does not say that other modes should not be funded, but suggests they should no longer be funded from the Highway Trust Fund, but should be funded from the general fund.
To quote: "What Rep. Oberstar’s (bill) version is expected to do, is further expand the scope of projects on which federal Highway Trust Fund money can be spent.

"Unfortunately, this is exactly what each federal reauthorization since 1991 has done—make federal highway funds more 'flexible.' That so-called flexibility means using gas taxes not just for highways, but for 'non-motorized' transportation as well – including sidewalks, hiking and bike trails—as well as for transit and even completely unrelated projects such as museums.

"All of this flexibility over the last two years dovetails—not coincidentally—with an increasingly deteriorating highway system…"

He concludes this by asking: “So why not let the Highway Trust Fund pay for our highway as intended, and let general revenues address the other expenses.”

•Does he blame bikes for the $89 billion shortfall? No, bike trails are just part of a list along with several other things including transit, which is the huge non-highway expense.
•Do we think bike trails, hiking trails, sidewalks, museums and transit ought to be funded? Of course.
•Don did not in any ways suggest we should stop funding any of the list of items, but simply change the federal account from which they are paid to improve road conditions and motorist safety
•But Don’s column proposes a realistic answer to better fund our highways, given government’s steadfast refusal to increase gas taxes, which AAA has supported. If we’re not going to expand revenue, then let’s reduce the number of things the Highway Trust Fund is expected to pay for.
•It is critical to remember that when road and bridge conditions deteriorate, motorists die, bridges collapse, cars hit potholes causing billions of dollars in damage collectively, etc. Poor maintenance of highways is a very real contributing factor.
•To suggest Don’s comments represent an anti-bike tirade, or is anti-bike at all, is just patently not true. Over the years AAA has been a leading advocate for pedestrian and bike safety, with AAA School Safety Patrols, crossing guard training, bicycle rodeos for children, etc.
•In response to Keith Laughlin, president of Rails to Trails Conservancy, who wrote AAA President Bob Darbelnet about Don’s column, Darbelnet noted:

AAA’s positions are clear: seek support for a transportation system that provides choices and multi-modal opportunities, which is affordable and accessible for all users and facilitates personal travel needs.

•Don and AAA Mid-Atlantic completely concur. The question is, how to pay for them and, clearly we disagree with Mr. Laughlin’s proposed means of paying for bike trails, but we don’t disagree with building them at all.
Thanks

Kati said...

HI, I work for AAA Mid-Atlantic and would like to clarify the company's stance on the matter.
• In Don’s July-August AAA World column entitled “Use The Highway Trust Fund to Pay Only for Highways”, Don discusses the huge annual shortfalls this trust fund is suffering--$89 billion just to maintain our existing roads and bridges.
• The gist of his comments are that since Congress has been unwilling to increase the gas tax to fund for all that is now being paid for by the trust fund, it time to consider limiting the things the Fund pays for--to stop making the federal highway trust funds “more flexible” and have them just pay for highways and related expenses as was originally intended.
• He does not say that other modes should not be funded, but suggests they should no longer be funded from the Highway Trust Fund, but should be funded from the general fund.
• He says:

What Rep. Oberstar’s (bill) version is expected to do, is further expand the scope of projects on which federal Highway Trust Fund money can be spent.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what each federal re-authorization since 1991 has done—make federal highway funds more “flexible.” That so-called flexibility means using gas taxes not just for highways, but for “non-motorized” transportation as well – including sidewalks, hiking and bike trails—as well as for transit and even completely unrelated projects such as museums.

All of this flexibility over the last two years dovetails—not coincidentally—with an increasingly deteriorating highway system…

He concludes this by asking: “So why not let the Highway Trust Fund pay for our highway as intended, and let general revenues address the other expenses.”

Kati said...

Additionally,


• Does he blame bikes for the $89 billion shortfall? No, bike trails are just part of a list along with several other things including transit, which is the huge non-highway expense.
• Do we think bike trails, hiking trails, sidewalks, museums and transit ought to be funded? Of course.
• Don did not in any ways suggest we should stop funding any of the list of items, but simply change the federal account from which they are paid to improve road conditions and motorist safety
• But Don’s column proposes a realistic answer to better fund our highways, given government’s steadfast refusal to increase gas taxes, which AAA has supported. If we’re not going to expand revenue, then let’s reduce the number of things the Highway Trust Fund is expected to pay for.
• It is critical to remember that when road and bridge conditions deteriorate, motorists die, bridges collapse, cars hit potholes causing billions of dollars in damage collectively, etc. Poor maintenance of highways is a very real contributing factor.
• To suggest Don’s comments represent an anti-bike tirade, or is anti-bike at all, is just patently not true. Over the years AAA has been a leading advocate for pedestrian and bike safety, with AAA School Safety Patrols, crossing guard training, bicycle rodeos for children, etc.
• In response to Keith Laughlin, president of Rails to Trails Conservancy, who wrote AAA President Bob Darbelnet about Don’s column, Darbelnet noted:

AAA’s positions are clear: seek support for a transportation system that provides choices and multi-modal opportunities, which is affordable and accessible for all users and facilitates personal travel needs.

• Don and AAA Mid-Atlantic completely concur. The question is, how to pay for them and, clearly we disagree with Mr. Laughlin’s proposed means of paying for bike trails, but we don’t disagree with building them at all.

Any questions, email me at kdriscoll@aaamidatlantic.com

Kati said...

Arg! This didn't post my first comments. I work for AAA and wanted to clarify a few things on this matter. No where did AAA say to cut the funding.

• In Don’s July-August AAA World column entitled “Use The Highway Trust Fund to Pay Only for Highways”, Don discusses the huge annual shortfalls this trust fund is suffering--$89 billion just to maintain our existing roads and bridges.
• The gist of his comments are that since Congress has been unwilling to increase the gas tax to fund for all that is now being paid for by the trust fund, it time to consider limiting the things the Fund pays for--to stop making the federal highway trust funds “more flexible” and have them just pay for highways and related expenses as was originally intended.
• He does not say that other modes should not be funded, but suggests they should no longer be funded from the Highway Trust Fund, but should be funded from the general fund.

John Boyle said...

Mr. Gagnon's article offers a lot of bluster for just over 1% of the $89 billion dollar shortfall that sidewalks and trails contribute to. Please itemize where the other $88 Billion in savings will come from?

PENNDOT estimates that reconstructing I-95 in PA is $6 Billion, you can add $1.4 billion for the I-95/PA Turnpike interchange. Eliminating the entire Transportation Enhancements program wouldn't be enough to even pay for the interchange.

In NJ nearly 30% of all highway deaths are pedestrians and bicyclists, please justify why pedestrian and bicycle safety projects should not be part of the highway trust fund.

AAA needs to get on board and formally support complete streets and active transportation. All this anti-bike/walk/transit/speed camera hype is just feeding memberships to the Better World Club.

Justin S. said...

Hello!
AAA’s positions on a federal transportation program and funding reforms are clear. AAA seeks support for a transportation system that:
•provides choices and multi-modal opportunities
•is affordable and accessible for all users
•facilitates personal travel needs
•preserves and maximizes the utility of the current system
•increases capacity to address growing congestion

AAA respects the work of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, but its current petition campaign -- a reaction to recent commentary published by AAA Mid-Atlantic in its AAA World magazine – mischaracterizes AAA Mid-Atlantic’s position. http://bit.ly/9VWDfc

AAA is and always has been in favor of a safe, efficient, multi-modal transportation system. For more information on AAA’s efforts in this regard, see www.AAAmakingamericastronger.com.

Andy B from Jersey said...

Some comments from AAA staff were ID'd as Spam by Blogger without my knowledge until Jan, 3rd 2011.

My regrets to those who wrote them without them getting published. They are now visible for all to read.