Obama's Shovel-Ready Bike Paths

Wasting highway stimulus funds on the U.S. Bicycle Route System.

Way back in the early days of his presidency, Obama demanded an unprecedented $700 billion "stimulus" bill to get our economy moving again.  The stimulus, we were told, would be dumped into "shovel-ready" projects repairing worn-out infrastructure, giving us much-needed highways and workers much-needed jobs.  Without the stimulus, his economists warned, unemployment might rise as high as 9%.

Well, he got the stimulus all right, and from that day to this, the unemployment rate has never been below 9%.  There has never been $700 billion more badly spent.

What happened?  It seems impossible to spend that much money and not get anything at all.  Yet on our decaying roads and highways, traffic cones and hardhats have been conspicuous by their absence.  We've seen far more long-planned projects canceled due to lack of funds than new ones started, much less completed.  Even Obama's realized the problem sufficiently as to crack jokes about it:

Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.

It was, of course, transparently obvious to all that Mr. Obama was lying both then and now: his lips were moving.  At the time, US News and World Report gave us the sad news about the money:

Overall, the law allots $48.1 billion to the Department of Transportation, or just 6 percent of total stimulus funds.

The majority was just dumped down the usual ratholes: public-sector employee unions, earmarks to the politically favored, bailouts for banks and auto companies.

Even so, $48.1 billion seems like a lot; where did it go?  It's said that a new highway costs between $4 million and $8 million per mile.  Simple math tells us we should have gotten 8,000 miles of new highway for our billions of bucks, but we manifestly didn't.

Two years on, the truth comes out:

There's [a new highway system] just starting to spring up with a little assistance from the federal government: the U.S. Bicycle Route System.

The USBR network isn't only a few disjointed bike paths that you need to drive out to; there's indeed a master plan, and it will connect urban, suburban, and rural areas and aims to provide real transportation out from urban and suburban areas to rural recreation areas, and even facilitate long-distance trips.  Federal highway safety funds are helping build the network...

The radical leftists and environmentalists who infest - nay, comprise - Barack Obama's administration so loathe America's traditional freedom of the roads that they are wasting our tax dollars on long-haul bike paths for the use of hairy seed-eating hippies instead of fixing the roads Americans actually use every day.  Of course, they also claim there's way too many people on this planet, and as one poor unlucky Green Party candidate recently discovered, riding a bike to work is a good way to reduce the surplus population.

This is not the first time the statist left has tried this, but it seems to be the first time they've dumped serious money into the effort.  Once again, the Tea Party is presented with a first-class target for budget cuts.

There's only one person who needs to be forced to get on his bike: Barack Obama, at the earliest opportunity.

Read other Scragged.com articles by Hobbes or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

I support safe ways to bicycle to work and play.

Benefits to society include:
- Improved health
- Lower medical costs.
- Lower oil consumption
- A solution to the "last mile" of public transportation

Changing behaviors will require a hit to ones pocketbook. Once gas prices rise either by market pressure or taxation a biking solution will look brilliant!

June 23, 2011 9:21 AM

Why must the issues always be addressed in the context of 'personalities'?

Obama this and Obama that...it is distraction from the way the world really works.

These problems are systemic. Treating them like a soap opera is trivialization. It leaves the reader with the impression that all we need to do is "get rid of Obama"--or the last leg aroung "get rid of Bush", and THAT is the trick that is sinking this nation--the divide and conquer game of the plutocracy behind the curtains.

The problem is the system, the politicians are just replaceable widgits

June 23, 2011 11:36 AM

"This is not the first time the statist left has tried this..."~Hobbes

And what about all the despotic yank from the 'statist right'?

Can't you figure out that the statists are in this together playing good cop bad cop on the nation?

This is just "Ra ra for my team--Boo for their team" garbage.

Now they got you in a hammer lock with this Homeland Security police state...and you are STILL playing this left/right, liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican fools game.

It's ridiculous

June 23, 2011 11:48 AM

Willy, this is about the way govt is spending money. You are right that we should not single out Obama for this, since all politicians have a thirst for taxpayer money (perhaps Ron Paul could be excluded from this list). However, since the govt continually takes our money (and that is not going to change anytime soon even though most of us here at Scragged would love it if taxes were eliminated), we might as well voice our displeasure with how that money is spent. This administration does seem to favor certain "fringe" groups, and we simply do not agree with such frivolous spending.

Peter, I would like to see you try to take your kids with you and go grocery shopping. Or on vacation on a bike, with suitcases strapped to your bike. Bikes have their purpose and it's mostly for play, but I work 25 miles from my home. My employer does not provide showers, so I would rather not stink up my office if you know what I am saying. How much produce can you bring to the store on a bike? Let's be a bit practical about this.

June 23, 2011 3:51 PM

Hello Alin,

I take a long view on things. I believe one of the valid uses of government spending is to provide infrastructure that enables growth and sustainability. The interstate system is a good example. One I hope we keep in good working order. It allows us the ability to live 25 miles from work.

I believe ecomonic and political pressures will force us away from the industrial age model of take, make, waste and we need options that enable us to adopt new behaviors. As the world urbanizes we need to consider the infrastructures that allow prosperity with less demand on natural resources and impact on the environment.

Think of all the chocolate chip cookies you could eat if you rode 25 miles to work each day! I'm sure your employer could be convinced to add a shower if you persist in riding.

June 23, 2011 5:07 PM


Is it possible to bike 25 miles to work each way without spending inordinate amounts of time commuting? How long would that take the average biker?

I'm really curious here.

Being able to eat more chocolate cookies intrigues me.

June 23, 2011 5:09 PM

Hello Twibi,

25 miles is a long commute, best reserved for the die hards. On fair weather days I commute 18 miles and have a shower at work. My average speed is 14 mph and allow 2 hours from door to desk. My ride would be shorter but I take the bike path network in our area to avoid busy streets.

If you ever get a chance to visit Europe check out the bike parking at company and rail station lots. The impact of $5 gas makes bikes an easy choice.

June 23, 2011 5:25 PM



So you spend 4 hours **per day** commuting??

Granted that includes your shower time (and it also takes care of any daily exercise requirements) but that's still a huge chunk of time.

My current commute is no more than 30 minutes door to desk. But then I shower before leaving so that would have to be added. I wouldn't have to go 18 miles either. More like 10 or so.

June 23, 2011 5:29 PM

Peter, I would rather spend that time with my kids or reading Scragged, or better yet watching TV AND eating cookies.

I could say something as asinine as "Move to Europe then", but I really don't have a problem with you wanting bike lanes. I do see a problem with your "adopt new behaviors"/"changing behaviors" statements, I really hope you did not mean what I think you are hinting at.

But until we find practical alternatives to automobiles, the money should be spent on maintaining roads instead of creating bike lanes for a handful of citizens. We need solutions, not pandering to a bunch of special interests. How many grandmas and grandpas do you really think can get on a bike and pedal on top of that? I think your view is a bit myopic, you fail to recognize that this option is not viable for a majority of the population.

June 23, 2011 5:52 PM

There would be plenty of money for infrastructure and social spending if it wasn't for the money wasted on the bloated military and handing out money to other countries all over the planet.

In fact there would be so much wealth in this nation there wouldn't need to be any social expenditures if the FED was abolished and the bankers sent to the gallows...along with all the traitors they bought and put in "government".

June 23, 2011 6:04 PM

See Willy, now that was a comment most of us can agree with. The military has become a bureaucratic waste of money, with lost of special interests profiting from building weapons and bombs that are used overseas instead of simply defending our borders. International "aid" is plain stupid. And absolutely the FED should be abolished. Wow, common ground...

June 23, 2011 6:19 PM

Well, after we've streamlined the military, dumped all foreign aid, and abolished the Fed, I'd still rather the government give the money back to me rather than waste it on silly bike paths. The hippies can pay for their own paths, if there's a market, somebody will provide a solution. But there isn't, which is why they want you and me to pay for something only a few will ever want.

June 23, 2011 10:22 PM
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