Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bike and hike? Pay to play

California is in the midst of a debate about the state’s highway funding.

We say highway funding, but in reality, the proposal on the table would spend a lot of cash for things far removed from cars and trucks. The proposal would use $90 million dollars of highway user money to put a bike and hike trail along a commuter rail line.

One of our listeners did a little figuring. He calculated that for the length of the trail, that would mean the state of California would spend $1.3 million per mile.

Remember, this is a commuter rail line along an existing rail line. The land is there and available, so this is all for bike and hike.

That same listener was incredulous, just as I am right now. What kind of idiot spends $1.3 million a mile for bike and hike trails? What are they paving this thing with, gold dust?

We have a bike and hike path not far from OOIDA headquarters. They used land already owned by the public, smoothed out and leveled the ground with a Bobcat, and then laid down some pea gravel. Project done.

I’m betting it didn’t cost a fraction per mile of what this thing is running.

I don’t object to this kind of thing overall. I’ll admit, I use those trails. I like them. And if I want more, I can vote to raise my own blasted taxes and pay for it. If I’m not willing to pay, and I want to walk, perhaps I can use a unique and highly advanced creation of 20th century scientists – the sidewalk.

What I do object to is money that was paid for paved highways being stolen away for this kind of thing.

If you want this kind of path in your town, be ready to pay for it. But don’t make some trucker who’s already dealing with sky-high fuel prices pay yet more just so you can pedal in peace.