U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., Republican from Oklahoma, recently released a report entitled “2008: Worst Waste of the Year,” which highlights “absurd federal spending from beltway bureaucrats and elected officials.”
Here’s an excerpt from the report:
Some examples of Washington waste are well-intentioned, but raise questions about whether certain projects are best left to local government or private financiers. The Wilson Skateboard park for youth in the suburbs of Los Angeles is one such example, which received nearly $300,000 in federal grants this past year. Another is the free-bike library in one Colorado town, which allows local residents to check out bikes at no cost – it received $66,000 in 2008.
Fort Collins, Colorado received the federal grant to promote clean air, which it used to start the Fort Collins Bike Library, which allows residents, students, and visitors to Fort Collins to borrow check out bicycles for free for up to five days. Since it opened in April of this year, more than 1,700 different people have checked out a bike, reducing vehicle trips by an estimated 15,958 miles, and keeping 7.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the air because people are using the bikes instead of cars. The Bike Library has proven so popular that a major expansion is planned for 2009.
In addition to the Fort Collins Bike Library, the report also calls out several other bicycle related projects for rebuke — bike paths in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Share The Road signs in Southampton, New York, and the Freewheel Midtown Bike Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which provides the community a full-service bike transportation station, complete with long/short term Bike Storage, Bike Rentals, a Cafe , Repair Classes and a Shop where the public can do their own bike maintenance.
As a physician, you would expect Senator Coburn to recognize the value of bicycling in improving and maintaining public health. And as a Senator, you would expect him to recognize the value of bicycling in reducing our nation’s dependence on oil, reducing air and noise pollution, reducing traffic congestion, and improving roadway safely.
But apparently not.
(Incidentally, Coburn apparently didn’t waste any money paying for the clip art he uses in his report. The image on the front cover — a piggy bank wearing a santa hat — was stolen from Dreamstime. The watermark (the swirl in the center) indicates that the image was lifted right off the Dreamstime web site, and has not been paid for, even though it only costs $1 to properly license the image.)