Tuesday, March 20

Transportation Bill

Cornyn's Means to Add Thoughts...
Earlier, I sent the following to Texas Senator John Cornyn:

Apparently at the instigation of the National Parks Service, the Senate version of the Transportation Bill includes a mandatory sidepath provision for bicyclists. There is a similar provision in the House version. That is, if there is a paved bicycle path anywhere near a road, bicyclists are prohibited from using the road. What is worse, the provision doesn’t even say that the path has to be usable, or serve the same destinations, and regardless of any tangible safety issues. I call this the “you can’t get there from here” law.

Mandatory sidepath laws presently are on the books in only 7 states. Texas is not one of the 7.

More important, this represents yet another Federal overreach into our personal liberties, in this case the right to travel, without any provision for individual circumstances, provision for hearings or appeal, or even a pretense of respect for the laws of states in which the regulation would be imposed. In short, it sets bad precedent and is bad law that extends the Federal grasp just a little further - with no real justification.

A Federal mandatory sidepath law would be a step backward - beyond that of any state in the Union - and an offense to the long-held liberty of free movement. I ask you to consider standing on the principle that added Federal rules should be avoided absent clearly compelling circumstances which nobody has really asserted here. Even in a transportation bill. Texas may be affected less than states with larger Federal holdings, but we are all affected by a Federal assault on the rights of any citizen.

For any that follow such things, a heritage from John Allen is clear, but my tone is entirely different. I hope that Cornyn is more like Magnuson than "Scoop" Jackson. "Scoop" was more popular with his constituents than "Maggie," but my own experience showed "Maggie" to be the one I'd rather support - even after 40 years. I honor his memory. For those that do not know either, Magnuson and Jackson were both Democrat Senators from the State of Washington in the 70's and 80's. At one point, Jackson ran for President.


Khal said...


Steve A said...

Thanks. I think it sends a congruent message as Allen's to a different mindset. After some consideration, I'll send another to Kay Bailey Hutchison, a member of the Senate Bike Caucus. Cyclists really OUGHT to be on the same side on this one regardless of their political affiliation.

Unfortunately, I fear that true "small government" Republicans are less common than they'd like you to believe...

RANTWICK said...

That was well written. I was thoroughly surprised, you hack!


Khal said...

My worry is that this issue is only seen as worrisome by two groups: one, those who see individual liberties as more important than Federal funding, and two, cyclists who live in areas with a lot of Federal agency roads, e.g., New Mexico and other Western states. To your garden variety urban cyclist (with the exception of places like DC that have Park Service roads), this may seem like a small price to pay for getting Federal largesse. I'm not sure what to say to those people that Steve has not already said. There are a lot of folks these days who WOULD trade liberty for security.

Invisible Man said...

I've just, funnily enough, blogged about the potential for off-road cycle lanes to become prisons here: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/in-which-our-hero-picks-up-cycling.html . I very much share your concerns (albeit I cycle mainly in the UK, rather than the US).

Invisible Visible Man

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