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Obama's Shovel-Ready Bike Paths

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

By Hobbes  |  June 23, 2011

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.