The federal transportation bill - long since expired - has been living on extensions. The most recent extension was tied to a jobs bill, which was blocked by a one-person filibuster. This actually resulted in a one day lapse in funding during which thousands of planners, engineers, and construction projects were suspended from work. The bill finally passed and funds are moving again. For now. Meanwhile, Congressman Blumenauer has introduced a proposal for active transportation grants to support walking and bicycling in place of shorter driving trips.
However, transit providers everywhere are in danger of crippling service cuts, as sales and other taxes continue to falter in the struggling economy. In Altanta, MARTA has proposed drastic cuts amounting to about 40% of its service. This includes elimination of nearly half of its bus routes and loss of about 1,000 jobs. That is nearly half the number of jobs that were gained at the highly-touted Kia plant (which received $400 million in state subsidies). Will operations funding come through from the feds? Will Atlanta be immobilized by gridlock and stranded workers if the cuts go through? Will bicycles come to the rescue?
Locally, last week's Critical Mass got confrontational as a motorist was angered by cyclists failing to stop at a red light. And several fun group rides (which will obey traffic laws!) are coming up:
Saturday, March 13 at 6 pm: Heels on Wheels
Saturday, March 27 from 4-8 pm: Singles Speed (dating/singles event)
Saturday, March 27 at 10 am: Intown Touring Club Airport District Ride
Sunday, April 25 from 1-6 pm: 2010 BeltLine Bike Tour
Also, Sopo bicycle repair co-op is holding their annual alley cat race and party, "Broken Hearts and Bicycle Parts" this Saturday, March 6.
Finally, the daily version of why I love my commute... Backyard roosters crowing as I ride by in the morning. Pedestrians who say 'good morning' even though I go by too fast to hear the entire phrase. Morning sunlight on skyscrapers. The girl in the pink scarf who grinned as she cycled by in the other direction.