I want to make sure I understand this. Apparently it is within the constitution and acceptable for the federal government to subsidize highways, farmers, homeowners, and any number of other groups but it is somehow not acceptable to spend a tiny fraction of the overall transportation budget on infrastructure to support such things as riding a bike to work or school?
By the way, I don't recall that the purpose of the program is to "buy a bicycle for someone with a cell phone." The purpose is to provide a transportation system for anyone to use. It is designed to promote making short trips by bicycle rather than by car.
We currently fund mass transit systems (buses) how is a transit system designed around a bicycle all that different?
But again rather than discuss the issue it is so much simpler to vilify someone with a different opinion. Statements like "conservatives are better educated and pay back their student loans" or snarky comments about Christians do little to actually address the underlying issues. Like it or not the government does play a role in shaping the direction of our communities from local zoning laws to federal subsidies for parks, homeowners, business etc.
So again, I ask if the federal government has no business subsidizing a bicycle transportation system because it is "the government exceeding its mission and functions" then how is it acceptable for the government to subsidize highways? Seems to me it is all part of providing an infrastructure for people to get from place to place.
I am amazed at how quickly this topic degenerated into mindless rhetoric as to whether conservatives or liberals are the bigger a-holes. The simple fact is that if users of automobiles had to pay the true cost of driving on our nation's roads, most of us would be walking. The typical highway costs between 1 and 5 million per mile. One of the biggest government boondogles, the Big Dig in Boston, ended up costing somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 billion per mile. But heaven forbid we spend anything to promote any other form of transportation.
So this bike share project had a 2 million federal grant to cover startup and operational costs for a year and I guess somewhere a mile of highway won't get built as a result. What a damn shame.
Getting people using a bike or walking to run an errand reduces polution, may save a little gas, free up a parking space that might have otherwise been used, and might even provide some health benefit in the form of exercise.
What is also lost in this argument over who whould pay what are the intangible benefits. It makes it easier for people who work and live downtown to get around. It might promote tourists to explore businesses outside the couple of blocks near the riverfront. The city is actually getting some positive press about the program, other cities want to learn about our system and adopt it. Perhaps that press generates interest for people from other areas to visit Chattanooga. And we are joining the ranks of many cities who have already adopted similar bike share systems that are, in fact very popular.
Arguing whether Bike share is a socialist or conservative issue misses the point. The real discussion needs to be about the direction the citizens of this community want to take. Will it be one of ever increasing highways, gridlock, and parking lots until we turn into a miniature version of Atlanta, or will it be one that creates a liveable community with many transportation options? I consider myself a conservative but would prefer the latter choice.