Gov. Otter budget director Wayne Hammon just finished addressing the legislative budget committee this morning, but he started a little fight about bike lanes in his opening comments.
"This $5 million will not build a bike path," Hammond assured the committee.
About $5 million of the stimulus funding for transportation is to be used for "enhancements
," which include landscaping, bike paths, or water features, according to Hammon's explanation. Otter has decided to put that $5 million toward what Hammond first called landscaping and then self-edited to "banks on off-ramps" and "sprinklers to keep dust down." The money will go toward "enhancing" road projects that are already funded and in progress to offset some of the costs (check the link above to see if banking and sprinkling would qualify as enhancements).
Sen. Nicole LeFavour, who often walks to work, pointed out that there were safety issues with roads (which the $5 million in enhancements would seek to address) and that people in Idaho who can't afford to drive must resort to cycling. She criticized his disparaging comments toward bike paths.
Hammon replied cheekily: “The future of Idaho is not contained in the North End,” and added that many poeple in Idaho are not able to bike to work.
LeFavour's larger point - that the focus on roads appears to be at the expense of public education
- will hopefully spur even more debate.