A recent article by the Huffington Post noted that two committees within the House of Representatives voted to remove federal funding for the Safe Routesto School National Partnership, an organization which promotes pedestrian and bicycle friendly environments around schools. The $202 million provided to the organization is approximately five percent of the interstate highway system's annual funding. This money will still be distributed to states, but in the form of general highway funding, which would be spent on interstate improvements and road construction as well as transit. John Mica (R-FL), who has a record of opposing alternative transit investments and was also the author of a bill to privatize Amtrak, claimed that this reduction in funding would not pose a problem, as he claimed that communities would make up the missing funds with their own investments. This seems highly unlikely however, as many communities are cutting back on program funding due to the economic climate.
Dedicating additional funding towards freeways is wasteful and inefficient, as it causes increases in traffic congestion because of induced demand, increases in utility costs because of expansion of power and water lines to low density development and increases in personal transportation expenses.
Not only does this measure show the Republicans' support for inefficient and wasteful transportation projects, but it also shows they are willing to forsake communities and schools to get there way on these issues. Depriving schools of adequate pedestrian and bicycle access not only puts children at risk of being injured in a vehicular accident, but also promotes an unhealthy lifestyle as it discourages walking and bicycling, leading to a decrease in physical activity.
Furthermore, this proves once again that Republicans and the Tea Party are guided by blind ideology alone and care only about the illusion of policy implementation, rather than the substance of it. If reducing government spending was indeed a high priority for the right wing, then they would be adamant supporters of mixed use development, public transportation use, and bike paths and sidewalks such as those supported by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. All of these things are proven to not only reduce government and private expenses but also to generate economic development, which is something that today, simply cannot be ignored.