Commentary on AASHTO testimony before congress


Today I will focus my testimony on four main points: 1. Construction Jobs. ...
2. Transportation is vital to the U.S. economy. ...
3. Sustaining an Export-led Recovery.
4. Infrastructure Investment Deficit.
Even in her intro we get a hint of the contradictory nature of car centric planning, it's good for the economy but it creates a deficit. So what is it, good or bad? There is no doubt in my mind that the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, in 1956 was good investment. But it's done and the same arguments used in 1956 are largely not applicable any more. The challenge before us is how to have more economical ways to move more people and possibly separate the movement of freight from the movement of just getting kids to school and other daily activities "that require use of a car."

Economic Recovery and Job Creation
Forty-eight billion dollars of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) resources was set aside for transportation. This investment has provided a “lifeline” for construction industry workers and businesses...
But Bike Projects Create More Jobs Than Other Road Projects So for the sole purpose of job creation and for making up for lost ground of way too may car centric projects in years past or investing in infrastructure that is sorely needed we should be investing in bicycling projects. They have the real possibility of replacing 50% of car trips leaving our roadways more functional for the transportation of fright.

Long Lasting Results of Transportation Investments
The federal economic stimulus program has helped to create and sustain good paying jobs, but it also left behind improvements in transportation assets that bring long-lasting benefits to the economy. For example, in Nevada, many local agencies and Nevada DOT were able to reduce their backlog of pavement preservation needs. ARRA allowed potholed pavements to be repaved...
Pot hole repair is "long lasting"? And they needed ARRA funding to get it done? What ever happened to motoring paying there own way? If motoring can't even pay for there own wear and tear we should be concerned, very concerned.

The beautification of several miles of US 95 in Las Vegas with a recently completed $4 million landscape and aesthetics project, which received high praise in the local newspaper.
"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything." - Charles Kuralt
If I saw the same level of commitment to bicycling where people truly appreciate and enjoy the landscape they travel through I would not say anything but $4 million for less then two minutes of green blur, I really have to question if our priorities are that effective, as no mater what kind of "beautification" Charles Kuralt statement is still valid.

The new Meadowood interchange project, now underway in Reno, promises additional access for residents and retail shoppers to a major commercial center, which will further enhance the local economy.
It would have been nice if Martinovich mentioned the multi-use path path included in the project as well as what looks like a truly multi-modal project as a example of what all transportation projects should look like. We have to call an end to an era where facilitating one mode of transportation is allowed to prevent or creates additional hazards (including premature death of the population) to the other modes of transportation.

Transportation is a Vital Sector of the Economy
Over the last fifty years, our population, our landscape, our economy and our transportation system has changed dramatically. In 1960, our population was 180 million; we had 87 million drivers and 74 million cars creating 600 billion annual vehicle miles of travel (VMT). Today, we have 308 million people, 208 million drivers and 250 million vehicles, and VMT has increased to almost 3 trillion.
Let's see in 1960 we had 7 billion miles traveled for every one million drivers. Today: we have 14 billion miles traveled for every one million drivers. And this is a good thing how? Many are feeling the pinch of increasing costs of "mandatory" car use policies. Just think how good you will feel paying $5 a gallon knowing you are helping the economy, [/sarcasm] This is not a point for more "mandatory" car use policies but for the exact opposite, we need affordable transportation policies.

According to federal statistics, transportation is a $1.2 trillion business that accounts for nine percent of the Gross Domestic Product, and 9.7% of the nation’s labor force. More importantly, it provides the infrastructure, equipment and services that support other industries, especially manufacturing, retail, services, agriculture, and natural resources, which together account for 84 percent of the U.S. economy.
Get Rich While Reducing Emissions: Smart Growth Keeps Looking Smarter
“[Vehicle Miles Traveled] and GDP have grown concurrently since World War II and in lock step for much of that time,” the report states. But around 1996, GDP began growing faster than VMT, and, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “the importance of travel as a component of the U.S. economy has been declining since the early 1990s.”

Pumping Up the Plea to Make L.A. More Bike-Friendly
"It doesn’t hurt that cycling cultures seem to be happy and productive ones. Holland, in this recessionary year, has an unemployment rate of just 3.3 percent, and Denmark, another cycling powerhouse, of only 5.7 percent. And Denmark’s GDP per capita is $68,000, compared with $47,000 in the United States."

Matters of Scale
Total spending on health as percent of GDP in the United States (2002) 14.6
Percent in Germany 10.9
Percent in the Netherlands 8.8

RESOURCES from the National Center for Bicycling & Walking
One in five children will be obese by 2010. Children should be active at least one hour each day; only one-third of high-school students currently meet this goal. Schools can help meet this physical activity goal, through physical education programs, active recess, after-school and other recreational activities. Education funding should be linked to all children achieving at least half of their daily recommended physical activity at school, and over time should be linked to reductions in childhood obesity rates.
Despite breakthroughs in medical science and a $1 trillion increase in annual health care spending over the past decade, America is losing ground relative to other countries when it comes to health. Astronomical medical bills strain family and government budgets and threaten America’s global competitiveness. Health care spending consumes about 16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), much more than in any other industrialized nation, and is expected to climb to over 20 percent of GDP by 2018. The costs of medical care and insurance are now out of reach for many American households, pushing some families into bankruptcy, draining businesses, reducing employment and severely straining public budgets.
Meanwhile, the United States slipped from 14th among industrialized countries in life expectancy at birth in 1980 to 23rd by 2004. We need to look beyond medical care to other factors that can improve America’s health.

[Cue the D minor organ music and diabolical laughter in the background] We are going to get rich by making transportation and medical costs more expensive for the individual. [/Sarcasm, or is it?]

My point here is while GDP was a valid point while building the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, it stopped being valid in the 1990s and twenty years latter AASHTO still has no clue that our single occupancy vehicle transportation system is consuming GDP and not the other way around.

U.S GDP $13.312 Trillion % of GDT
Total Transportation $1.167 Trillion 8.77%
Personal Consumption of Transportation
• Motor Vehicles and Parts
• Gasoline and Oil
• Transportation Services
$893 Billion 6.7%
I think Martinovich just made my point., there is a huge personal consumption of GDP just to get around.

How to Sustain an Export-led Recovery?
... The good news today is that for the last year U.S. exports have been expanding at double digit rates. The challenge we face in keeping pace with that growth is that the nation’s highways, railroads, ports, waterways, and airports all require investment well beyond current levels to maintain
I'm not going comment on "railroads, ports, waterways, and airports" as that is beyond my expertise but I have to really question why lead with highways when so called "user fees" pay for them and we have expansion at double digit rates, sounds to me what we have is working.

General Motors sold more cars in China in 2009 than it did in the United States. Caterpillar is shipping heavy equipment from its plants in Peoria, Illinois to countries like China, India, and Korea which have undertaken massive road building projects.
Gee isn't it nice to know that we helped convert China which was known for it's bicycles but know it is known for its traffic jams. The automobile making life better for everyone. [/sarcasm]

Meeting the transportation needs of the Service Industry
The services industry is the largest and fastest-growing economic sector in the U.S., now accounting for one-half of U.S. GDP and one-half of all jobs. This includes financial services, information technology, health, education, professional and business services such as law and accounting, and the leisure and hospitality industries. Most of the 37 million new jobs expected to be created in the next 15 years will be in services. The services industry needs efficient transportation access to large markets and big pools of skilled workers to keep costs down. Metropolitan congestion, however, makes it difficult for service industry workers to get to work and for service industry customers to get to offices, medical facilities, schools and other service centers.
I don't know about you but that sounds like an appeal for roads like what's pictured above.

Let's try replacing "efficient transportation" with "economical and efficient transportation" and "Metropolitan congestion" with "two many single occupancy vehicles in the dense Metropolitan areas. " And that would be keeping in line with comments AASHTO received on Facebook. But apparently AASHTO is our of touch with the next generation and the Service Industry that they so called are supporting.

As the economy grows, there is no question that the capacity of highways and rail systems will need to be expanded to handle freight which is expected to double. However, if half of the U.S. economy and one-half of all jobs are tied to the service sector, it won’t suffice for transportation plans to focus exclusively on moving freight. Equal emphasis needs to be placed on passenger transportation improvements, in all modes, that support a rapidly growing service economy.
I'm not sure if I have to take back what I just wrote, but we have "capacity of highways ... will need to be expanded" and no where in her entire testimony does Martinovich mention "mass transit." That is a rather shameful admission IMHO. And it is also worthy to note Trucking is the least efficient mode of freight shipping.

Travel and Tourism
Travel and tourism is a significant component of the large and growing services sector.
Again I think AASHTO misses the mark here. We have heard news reports in the past that travel was down over the summer due to the high price of gas, Infrastructure is not the driving component here. And the fastest growing segment of tourism is active tourism. In Vermont bicycle tourism is a bigger industry then maple syrup. Also bicycle tourism puts more money into the local economy in a more diverse fashion then the automobile were a large portion of the money just goes into the tank.

While I still have a lot of respect for AASHTO but roads are no longer the upward driving force they one were. Even the Centers for Disease Control has gotten into the fray against AASHTO standards with How Land Use and Transportation Systems Impact Public Health: Over the last several decades, street design in the U.S. has been heavily influenced by road design standards that are used by traffic engineers to regulate and standardize street construction. These standards have favored the construction of streets that are wide, smooth, and straight, conditions that encourage high-speed, motorized travel and discourage walking and bicycling (Untermann 1987)

The era of using super fast arterial roads and single occupancy cars for every single purpose and to solve every single problem has to end. Instead we need to focus on variety and options.
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Extra fine for bad driving part of proposed state budget

"I don't think it is good public policy," said Del. Joseph F. Vallario, Jr. who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. "This is a blanket action, across-the-board fine without a hearing."

B' Spokes: Like I couldn't see that one coming. Vallario making the State safer for us all. [/sarcasm]

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Important Change to House Rules (Fed)

(Just to keep you updated on what's happening on the Fed level.)

At the start of every new Congress, members of the House sit down and look at their rules. This time they made several changes that effect transportation funding. Generally speaking, federal programs go through two committees: one that determines policy and the other that determines funding levels. But, for the past decade, transportation funding has been different than any other federal program. Since 1998, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has determined both the policy and funding levels. Now, under the new rules, transportation will have to go through the appropriations like all other federal programs. That makes things a little more difficult for advocates.

Another unique aspect of transportation funding was the certainty provided by SAFETEA-LU — the federal transportation bill passed in 2005. It set levels of funding through 2009, specifying how much would be spent on each program. But, the latest extension of SAFETEA-LU expires on March 4. Congress will have to determine new funding levels for transportation and, because of the rule change, it will be appropriations, instead of T&I, leading that decision. The unfortunate reality is the committee will be looking to make dramatic cuts.

Maintaining funding at the 2009 level is a tough sell, because that would put the Highway Trust Fund into deficit spending. Members of Congress clearly aren’t keen on that idea. To only spend what’s in the Trust Fund, though, would mean as much as a 30 percent cut across the board — a drastic, and thus unlikely, scenario. But, it’s possible programs that fund biking and walking — Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes To School — could come under attack, and even be zeroed out.

So the grassroots ground game in the coming weeks will be critical. We need to show members of Congress that biking and walking programs are popular and cost-effective. Just as important, we need to show elected officials that it’s not worth disappointing thousands of voters to save such a small amount of money in the grand scheme of a large deficit. The stronger our showing now, the less likely our programs will come under attack again. So get ready: The very strong likelihood is that a House vote will happen the week of February 28th.

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Q&A With District 15 Delegate Aruna Miller


"I believe Maryland should focus on solutions that prioritize alternative modes of transportation including transit, bicycle and pedestrian access. Montgomery County continues to face deteriorating infrastructure and severe traffic congestion which negatively impacts our economy, environment, safety and our quality of life. I want to ensure the integrity of the State's Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) is protected and the funding is replenished. I support a gas tax increase which has broad support among the business and environmental communities."

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Who is standing against polluters and for clean air?

by Peter Altman
As E&E News reports, several Democratic senators took a hard-line stand against proposals to limit the EPA's ability to protect public health. Kudos to these members for standing up to the polluter-driven agenda:
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) pledged to "do everything we can to prevent the taking away of the responsibility of EPA to protect our environment and our health."

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Jamin Raskin - Maryland Senate

By Jamin Raskin

In this, my final session of my first term, the General Assembly passed 21 of my bills, many of them landmark pieces of progressive legislation, including:
3-Foot Bike Buffer Zone: When a motorist overtakes a bicyclist, this law will require the motorist to give the bicyclist at least a three-foot buffer zone. The bill passed out of the Senate unanimously many weeks ago but had been stalled in the House of Delegates until this last week when a terrible accident in Baltimore woke everyone up about how dangerous it has become for people on bikes. Lawrence Bensky was a middle-aged man from Owings Mills riding a bicycle in a bicycle lane when he was struck and killed by a driver who cavalierly crashed through what would have been a buffer zone under the law. Now everyone will be educated and on notice that people on bikes have rights too. Many thanks to Casey Anderson, Win Allred and my friends at One Less Car and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

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A New Leader for a New Baltimore - Otis Rolley

Update: Otis Rolley - We need your contributions by January 13th so we can include them in our January 20th reporting totals! Contribute online – and give whatever a transparent, better Baltimore is worth to you:
As an outside observer it's hard to state who has done what as City Government is a complex interaction of personalities and interests. But when we were developing the Baltimore Bike Master Plan we got a lot of help from Toole Design Group, which the City paid for under the principle if you are going to do something do it well. Sure there were corners cut to keep the cost down but we did get some critical elements into our plan that I think other cities miss, in short it was done well and without excessive costs.

I mention this as Otis Rolley was in charge of Planning at that time under the O'Malley administration and starting the process of making Baltimore into all that it could be seemed to be a major drive from his office. Baltimore has so much potential to be more then what it is, terms like "New Urbanism" and "Sustainability" are more then buzzwords, they embrace what has shown to work over a long period of time, the concepts are not about other peoples financial gains but your quality of life. They stress a way to look at the system as a whole rather then focus on just small bits and hope the rest will follow.

I should also mention that I have ridden with Otis several times on the rides that start from City Hall. He is aware of the handlebar perspective as well how much of the city you can see by bike and have a fun time doing it.

Dave Troy has great article delving into more detail (but not bike specific) here:

And Otis Rolley's TEDx talk:
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House of Delegates committee assignments are in

Our bicycling related bills generally go through one of these two committees in the House. The following are the new committee assignments, if you happen to know if any of these delegates are sympathetic to bicycling related issues please post a comment or drop us a line on who they might be.


ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS COMMITTEE Delegate James W. Gilchrist (Delegate 17) Delegate-elect Patrick Hogan (Delegate 3A) Delegate-elect Jay Jacobs (District 36) Delegate-elect Herb McMillan (District 30) Delegate-elect Charles Otto (District 38A) Delegate-elect Shane Robinson (District 39) Delegate-elect Cathy Vitale (District 33) Delegate-elect C.T. Wilson (District 28)

JUDICIARY COMMITTEE Delegate-elect Tiffany Alston (District 24) Delegate-elect Sam Arora (District 19) Delegate-elect Luke Clippinger (District 46) Delegate-elect John Cluster (District 8) Delegate-elect Michael McDermott (District 38B) Delegate-elect Keiffer Mitchell (District 44) Delegate-elect Neil Parrott (District 2B) Delegate-elect Geraldine Valentino-Smith (District 23A)

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Vallario to return as House Judiciary Committee Chairman

by Michael Dresser

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr., who last year incurred the wrath of the General Assembly's women's caucus over his panel's treatment of witnesses, will return to his post for the session that starts next month, according to a source close to the Democratic leadership.

Vallario, a Prince George's County Democrat and a defense attorney, has long been viewed as the chief obstacle to passage of tough drunk-driving legislation in Maryland. He was first elected in 1974 and has headed the committee since 1993, earning a reputation as a dogged advocate of defendants' rights on a panel that deals with many tough-on-crime proposals.

According to the source, House Speaker Michael E. Busch has decided to reappoint the veteran legislator along with all other incumbent House committee chairs. But in a gesture toward women legislators, he will name Del. Kathleen M. Dumais of Montgomery County as vice chairwoman of the committee. The former vice chairman, Del. Sandy Rosenberg of Baltimore, will move to the No. 2 spot on the Ways and Means Committee under Del. Sheila Hixson of Montgomery County.

The Women Legislators of Maryland sent a protest to Busch last March over what it's chairwoman called Vallario's "tyrannical leadership" of the committee. Del. Sue Kullen, D-Calvert, who has since been defeated for re-election, said the committee's "rude behavior" toward witnesses on sensitive topics "relects poorly on all of us."

Vallario hhas also been the subject of criticism from law enforcement offiicials and advocates for drunk driving laws. Last year, he effectively blocked passage of Senate-approved legislation that would have required all convicted drunk drivers to have devices installed on their vehicles to prevent them from being started if the operators had been drinking alcohol. Vallario held out for a bill that would have applied to only repeat offenders and those with blood-alcohol readings far above the legal limit. The so-called ignition interlock bill died without a formal vote in his committee after advocates rejected the compromise.

At the time, some Vallario opponents hoped he would be vulnerable to a challenge iin the Democratic primary. But Vallario won his contest easily.

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cheaper to drive illegally than park illegally, seriously.

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