A new state-of-the-art Bikestation Park & Ride for cyclists in Long Beach was hailed at its opening celebration November 4th as a portent of bigger changes underway in American transportation. Michael Replogle, a prominent transportation expert with Environmental Defense, told assembled officials, business leaders, and cyclists, "this new enclosed bicycle parking facility is emblematic of fresh winds blowing from California to Washington state and Washington, DC as communities address traffic, pollution, and gas price challenges by delivering better travel choices and smarter market incentives."
"Two decades ago, my book, Bicycles and Public Transportation, showed how successful Japanese and European bike-transit centers cut pollution and traffic, and how these might be adapted to America," Replogle said. "In the past 10 years, the Bikestation Coalition has nurtured those seeds to life, creating Bikestations in Long Beach, Seattle, Palo Alto, Berkeley, and San Francisco, and is now taking the vision to Washington, DC's Union Station, across from the Capitol, where a new bike-transit center will open in 2007."
A new federal transportation bill, called "SAFTEA-LU", enacted in August 2005 gives states $283 billion over five years, with over half available for investment in alternatives to drive alone travel, and an unprecedented $1 billion dedicated for bicycling and $35 billion for public transportation. "More than ever, it will be up to local and state officials to make smart investment choices," Replogle said. "Even if funding were not an issue, we can't build our way out of traffic congestion, since more roads generally spur more traffic. But we can get smarter about managing traffic and expanding travel choices."
"Business and community partnership was key to building the new Long Beach Bikestation. So too agencies across America will turn more to public-private partnerships to boost transportation investment, encouraged by new provisions in SAFETEA-LU. Many will build on the model of San Diego's I-15's toll-managed lanes that fund better public transportation," said Replogle. "And thanks to SAFETEA-LU, many communities will develop Safe Routes to Schools Programs, modeled on California's, and ensure safety for those walking and cycling to public transit and commercial centers."
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the health cost of transportation pollution exceeds $40 billion a year, a hidden tax of roughly $600 per household that is expressed in premature death, asthma, and other health problems. This Bikestation makes a small but important contribution to Southern California's success in cleaning up what was once the most unhealthful air in the nation. It also helps curb invisible greenhouse gas pollution that is changing our climate in profound ways.
Environmental Defense is pleased to support the Bikestation Coalition as our staff also works with state, regional, and local officials and business to accelerate the clean up the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, encourage early retrofit and replacement of dirty diesel engines, hold development industry accountable for indirect source pollution in the San Joaquin Valley, and find the ways that work to cut pollution.
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