Are Bike Paths "Infrastructure"?

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), discussing the proposed national stimulus package on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said that investing in infrastructure can be a component of such a plan as long as it is targeted: “I think there’s a place for infrastructure, but what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are necessary?” He stated. “But if we’re talking about beautification projects, or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this.”

What do you think? Do facilities such as bike paths count as real transportation infrastructure?

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy believes they do:

Unless we speak up, these transportation funds will go overwhelmingly to road projects—the same unbalanced strategy that has created our existing transportation problems.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, in partnership with Thunderhead Alliance and America Bikes, has collected a list of hundreds of ready-to-go active transportation projects from communities across the country. These projects would create new jobs and revitalize communities by funding trails, bike lanes, sidewalks and other infrastructure.

This would meet the ultimate goal of the recovery package: creating immediate jobs. Additionally, such an investment strategy would provide both immediate economic benefits and lasting positive change.

The long-term benefits are many: promoting local businesses along active transportation corridors; reducing health care costs; and curbing climate change emissions and oil dependency. These projects would also establish the principle that active transportation infrastructure is a wise, efficient and desirable public investment.

If you agree with them — that bicycling and pedestrian facilities are a critical part of the recovery package — then please sign their petition that states:

I support explicit funding for trails, walking and biking in the upcoming economic recovery package. Funding active transportation is a cost-effective investment that creates jobs and leads to healthier people, stronger communities, decreased oil dependency, and reduced climate change emissions.

About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

5 responses to “Are Bike Paths "Infrastructure"?”

  1. bike lanes, bike paths, pedestrian walk ways, rails to trails projects are all infrastructure. These projects would also have the same primary result in a stiumulus package. It would still get people back to work. It would still be very very useful.

    He misses the point in saying that bike paths would not ease congestion. Our government leaders need to get away from only thinking of cycling as a game or kids play.

    Its real transportation. Even in the midwest.

  2. mike says:

    Bike paths often face tremendous political opposition
    This is debate going on about a planned bike path near my house that I just wrote a post about it on my blog. It discusses an absurd situation with the construction of the ICC bike path. Although the 18.5 mile six lane highway will be built, the parallel 10 foot wide bike path is not going to be built due to its environmental impact. The details are in my post at

    This situation evolved after years of debate over the construction of the highway. Hopefully the situation will be corrected but it is a good case study of how difficult it can be to get a bike path built. Riders and commuters really need to support these paths. I am heading to the council meeting later this week to support the path.

  3. acline says:

    It’s infrastructure. And I agree with Mike re: political opposition.

    I’m wondering what luck we might have asking that cycling be taken into account in new road construction.

    Gas will need to return to and remain at $4+ per gallon before Americans will get serious about kicking the oil addiction.

  4. Early Man says:

    A powerful statement can be made during the Inauguration if the national media juxtapose the gridlock nightmare against the free flow of cyclists to the bike valet stations on the National Mall. Lard butts (like Boehner) will still regard cyclists as freaks, but more sensible Americans will understand that transporting people need not require accomodating two ton steel cocoons for each traveller.

  5. Brian says:

    I bet I can find 1 million American families who want big beautiful bike paths. Join my Facebook group today and send John Boehner a message that you are a warrior in the fight against ugliness.