Friday, March 23, 2007

Thunderhead Alliance Newsletter

It's far past time that those nice folks at Thunderhead stopped whining and learned to ride on the road with the rest of the adults.

I read this newsletter from TA, and for now, all I can think about is the utter self-centered attitude and near blindness of it. Iraq and Afghanistan are costing us, what, a billion dollars per day? We need more troops. The troops need more up-armored vehicles, and they CLEARLY need better medical care. Yet TA whines about the loss of bicycle facilities funding. There's a fundamental disconnect in their thinking, a lapse of ethics and ordinary human empathy that reveals a grasping, money-grubbing attitude that I find revolting.

This is a classic guns-or-butter situation when it comes to federal spending. We'd all like to ignore the enormous expense of fighting two wars. We'd prefer that 'the other guy' pay for it by cutting funds from HIS pet programs rather than ours. But the bottom line is that streets and highways benefit commerce far more than any bicycle facility. This is another harsh reality. Governments spend money on programs that enhance commerce because they contribute to the tax base. Bicycle facilities and programs don't do that, for the most part, so when crunch time arrives frivolous programs are the first to face the axe.

Regardless of my conviction that this war is illegal and immoral, we cannot simply cut off the funding and leave our own people more vulnerable. On my own, personal level, there's a clear ethical conflict. We cannot cut off funding because it would lead to more death and destruction, yet if we continue funding the war, it leads to more death and destruction.

But whining about spending cuts to bicycle programs is very far down my list of priorities.

The Thunderhead Alliance Weather Report

Volume 3, Issue 2

March 02, 2007


The largest rescission of federal transportation funds ever ordered by Congress is underway, totaling $3.471 billion. Because DOTs generally protect their familiar highway programs, rescissions such as this pose a threat to the most important programs to bicycling and walking. Once FHWA issues the order, states will have 30 days to surrender program balances. So contact your best officials at your DOT right away to let them know you and your organization will not tolerate unfair taking from programs that fund bicycling and walking! Then ask how you and your organization can help ensure the rescission is spread across all transportation programs evenly.

During FY’06, there were three separate federal transportation rescission orders, totaling $3.74 billion. A number of states targeted only a few programs to carry the burden of the rescission order. For example, some states targeted only the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). Texas took their entire rescission amount from the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program. Programs that fund bicycling and walking were targeted at a far greater percent than highway programs during the FY’06 rescissions, even though these programs represent a minor percentage of the apportioned funds.

So don’t delay! Make that call to your favorite DOT official today to let them know you and your organization are watching and to find out how to help ensure this monstrous rescission is handled appropriately.

And please email your experiences to sue “at” We are beginning work on an interactive database for our web site that will offer you the means to tap all SAFETEA-LU federal transportation funds for your efforts. We will have a section for combating unfair rescissions, so whatever you send us from this current one will help many other Thunderheaders respond to future rescissions. And please include any successes you have in bringing together coalitions of other organizations for this effort. Thank you!

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Blogger Paul Tay said...

Which side are you on?

2:41 PM  
Blogger George said...

Somebody is probably gonna light your ass up on the issue, but you have a very good point.

I think Bush f'ed up big time but the money to fund his mistake has to come from somewhere.

Special funding for bikes is what floats our boats but i would imagine quite a few special interest groups are in the same boat as us.

5:03 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I like this from the wiki entry for the League of American Bicyclists:

"Thunderhead Alliance [[1]] (lobbies for government money to encourage bicycle usage while receiving substantial industry funding)"

TA doesn't represent cyclists. It represents the industry. And while we may have some overlapping concerns, there are others that diverge. It's good to keep that in mind with any group membership.

1:40 PM  

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