Bike/Walk Central Florida to AAA: “Please don’t tell our children to go play in the road.”

December 10, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact:
Brad Kuhn
(321) 287-7243

ORLANDO, Fla. – December 10, 2010 –On Monday, Dec. 13, Bike/Walk Central Florida will join the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the Florida Bicycle Association, and bicycling advocates from around the country in a ride to AAA world headquarters in Heathrow, protesting the automobile club’s recent efforts to cut the primary federal funding source for recreational trails, the backbone of healthy, vital communities.

In a recent issue of AAA World magazine, Don Gagnon, president and CEO of AAA Mid-Atlantic, argued to restrict the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to just highways. Since 1991, Congress has clearly stated that federal gas tax revenues be used for all aspects of a surface transportation system, including bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has called upon AAA National President Robert Darbelnet to disavow Gagnon’s position and to join in a campaign to increase and improve active transportation investment, the Florida Bicycle Association and Bike/Walk Central Florida support this effort. Thus far, Darbelnet has not been receptive to RTC’s requests.

This is exactly the wrong direction for AAA to take at a time when the World Health Organization lists the United States as the fattest country in the world. The Centers for Disease Control place the cost of obesity at 10 percent of all medical expenses, or almost $150 billion annually. And here in Central Florida, we are falling below federal air quality standards, in large part because of our over-dependence on automobile transportation.

HTF funds have been primarily responsible for the construction of our world-class recreational trail network, including the Seminole-Wekiva Trail, which passes directly by AAA’s world headquarters at Heathrow.

Former Orange County Chairman Linda Chapin, an early and ardent advocate of recreational trails as a pathway to healthy communities, and co-chair of Bike/Walk Central Florida, urged Darbelnet to embrace the people-based policies of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a champion of alternative transportation, as healthy and integral to building strong communities and sustainable transportation networks.

“At a time when all of us, especially children and families, need to be more active, it would be a terrible step backwards to eliminate even the small amount of funding for trails and walkways,” Chapin said. “Let’s not try to solve highway funding problems by grabbing the 2% that goes to programs for people!”

Riders will gather Monday, 9 a.m., at Outspoke’n Bike Shop, 1061 South Sun Drive, in Lake Mary, and will ride, at 9:30 a.m., via federally funded bike trail, to AAA headquarters, where they will present a petition signed by thousands of trail advocates from around the country.

About Bike/Walk Central Florida

Bike/Walk Central Florida is a local chapter of the not-for-profit Florida Bicycle Association formed to promote healthy lifestyles and a vibrant community by: encouraging more people to walk and ride bicycles, ensuring that roads are designed with the needs of all users in mind, and fostering an environment of civility and respect for shared use of roads in Orange and Seminole counties. Bike/Walk Central Florida was funded in 2010 by a grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation, on the recommendation of the Civility Coalition – a diverse group of drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, law enforcement, safety councils, transportation officials and other stakeholders in Orange and Seminole Counties, dedicated to creating a safe, civil and friendly traffic environment that supports walking and cycling for fun, fitness and transportation.

5 replies
  1. Edgar Pace
    Edgar Pace says:

    When I was a member of AAA, the manager of the local store told me he thought hood ornaments were for taking aim at cyclists. That’s why I canceled my membership and will never support them.

  2. Scott
    Scott says:

    That’s got to be one of the most anti-human buildings I’ve ever seen. But I suppose that’s expected from the American AUTOMOBILE Association.

  3. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    I was thinking about you guys this morning! (especially since I lost a glove, and I was glowering about it) Keep up the good work!

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