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Posted by on Apr 4, 2011 in Bicycle Culture, General | 16 comments

roads or people?

Dear Senator Simmons,

I live in your district and I wanted to let you know what I thought about a particular budget issue. The newspapers are full of things that are proposed to be cut, but they never say much about what will stay pretty much intact. Today I discovered that while the House is proposing “raiding” the road building trust fund (which is what a trust fund is for  . . . rainy days) the Senate and the Governor wants to keep building roads. I presume that this is because roads are near and dear to developer’s hearts since more roads makes it possible to develop land further and further out in the boondocks.

I think that before school funding is cut, road building should stop. I am not happy with traffic congestion, but I also know that the State legislature has been slowly eroding a solemn promise made in the 1930′s to the people of the state of Florida.

Back in the 1930′s, Florida had hundreds of local school districts. Every town and city had one and there was no money coming from the State to run these schools. Then the legislature stepped in and offered to take them all over — many refused, but eventually they were all forced to deed the land over to these newly empowered County School Boards, which we now have. 90% of the funding was supposed to come from Tallahassee since the small counties controlled the legislature then. But things have changed. The 90 went to 80 and then even lower so that now less than 50% comes from Tallahassee. Still, that is too much, according to some legislators, yet road building has been fully funded for many years.

Since the takeover, at every downturn in the economy, the legislature has had to decide — roads or schools? Up until now, schools have won out. The legislature has an obligation to uphold the schools since it is in the Florida Constitution. There is no such obligation in the Constitution for making sure the citizens don’t have to slow down on their 50 mile commute.

You are new at this position and I doubt you have much to say, but you do have a final vote. I urge you to put people ahead of roads this time.

Eric Vey

16 Comments

  1. Well done. Thank you.

  2. Better yet, let the developers pay for their own roads. No more socialist nanny state handouts to the corporate welfare bums.

  3. I thought one of the primary goals of this organization is to seek the equitable use of the roads, not eliminate them. I am primarily a motorist but I am sympathetic to this cause and plan to augment my automobile commute with the occassional bicycle commute. The constant villification of those of us who drive cars (and use roads)undermines your ability to sway more of us to your aid.

    • you’d have a hard time finding any generalized vilification of motorists on this blog. don’t confuse talk of the culture of speed to include every individual within that culture.

    • Keith,

      Many who comment or author DO operate a motor vehicle from time to time. Bencott is correct as to the fact that we, as transportation cyclists, encounter these “one percenter’s”. These drivers of motor vehicles (1%)are the ones that can be a detriment to encouraging equality of use in our public utility.

      Encouragement, education, and enforcement are the primary means to create the equality and civility on our road system(s).

      I would suggest taking the CyclingSavvy course. Your bicycle commute will turn out to be much more enjoyable and I wager will turn into more than occasional with the experience gained.

      • Rodney, Keith has taken a CyclingSavvy class. He’s one of my favorite former students!

        Keith, the author does drive a car. He has written a number of critical posts about the anti-car movement. This post makes good points about priorities — expanding the capacity of roads (serving exurban developments) when other important public services are suffering.

        • Thank You for that Keri!

    • Keith,

      Dr. David McKeown, the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto, reports that in that city car pollution kills 440 people every year and injures 1,700 people so seriously that they have to be hospitalised.

      His report may be found here:

      http://www.toronto.ca/health/hphe/pdf/air_pollution_burden.pdf

      Particularly heart-rending is his description of the harm that car drivers do by poisoning innocent children. These deaths and injuries disproportionatly affect children and the elderly.

      For example, from the report’s Executive Summary (page i):

      “Children experience more than 1,200 acute bronchitis episodes per year as a result of air pollution from traffic. Children are also likely to experience the majority of asthma symptom days (about 68,000), given that asthma prevalence and asthma hospitalization rates are about twice as high in children as adults.”

      I have no problem villifing people who are, in fact, dangerous, violent villans. Particularly if innocent children are especial targets of the harm that they perpetrate.

  4. Rodney,
    I have in fact taken the course and HIGHLY recommend it. I hope progress can be made in the effort to establish a peaceful coexistence. I just caution against SOME of the posters on this blog who take their enthusiasm for cycling a bit too far when they make motorists in general the enemy, that is a sure fire way to lose the battle.

    • We wouldn’t hate them if they would stay as far left as possible and get out of the way when we ding our bells :)

      • Don’t you mean practicable?

        • I mean whatever gets those damn cars out of my way. Road hogs!

  5. I still <3 my car.

  6. A month later, I received this email.

    Dear Eric,

    Thank you for contacting me.

    As you can imagine, the 2011 Legislative Session has been filled with enormous challenges including balancing our state budget without increasing taxes; improving our education system; caring for people through health and human services; protecting our Second Amendment Rights; and addressing changes to Florida’s retirement system. I appreciate your thoughts regarding “roads or people.”

    If you would like more information about bills addressed during the 2011 Legislative session, or bills I have sponsored, please visit http://www.flsenate.gov.

    Please feel free to contact me in the future with any other concerns or comments.

    Sincerely yours,

    David Simmons
    State Senator, District 22

  7. “The state of California is considering a bill that would require motorists passing cyclists not only to leave a three-foot buffer, but also slow their speed to no more than 15 mph faster than the cyclist’s.” This honestly seems like overkill, especially on those portions of Interstate that allow cycling on the shoulder. It would likely lead to bikes being banned from roads where they’ve previously been allowed safely.

  8. Another stupid, unmeasurable, unenforceable law. We have work to do to bring true equity to the traffic justice system. But bike advocates insist on wasting time and resources — not to mention incurring the risks involved with the legislative process — on these nonsensical, feel-good laws which cannot be enforced unless a cyclist is actually hit… in which case a 3ft law is a lesser offense to careless or reckless driving.

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