The newest buzz word circulating the halls of Congress is “livability.” The term has been applied to all sorts of issues related to the environment and energy, and the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) has learned that the term is now being applied to transportation issues as well.
The United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs passed S. 1619, the Livable Communities Act (LCA), on Tuesday, August 3, 2010. LCA establishes a new federal office that would issue grants to develop and implement “livable communities.” The bill passed through the committee with a party line vote; 13 Democrats voted for and 10 Republicans voted against the measure. The U.S. Senate is set to adjourn for the August recess this week, so it is highly unlikely that S. 1619 will make to the floor for a full vote. Even if that were to happen, it is unclear if the majority party has the votes needed for passage.
Here is how LCA’s supporters see things as “livable.” They envision halting development of currently undeveloped suburban properties because urban sprawl has spread our cities too thin, and driving or riding by residents who live in suburbs is causing too much pollution and wasting too much gasoline. Instead, they want to mandate that all new developments be in metropolitan areas where people can take mass transit and walk to their jobs, shopping and entertainment. It’s what LCA refers to as “compact development.”
LCA would remove lanes of travel from car and motorcycle users and give them to bicyclists and pedestrians. Walking and pedaling are both great, but they don’t pay into the system as it exists. States will no longer have control over their own destinies. If an area of a state or town is declared “unlivable,” no future infrastructure developments would occur. LCA supporters believe the result will be to force Americans out of their cars and off their motorcycles so that they will use less energy and pollute less, all at the demand of the federal government. The MRF believes that reducing traffic lanes would result in more traffic gridlock, actually causing more energy use and pollution.
The bottom line is that the choice to operate a motor vehicle should be that of the operator, not Washington DC bureaucrats. LCA both discriminates against and punishes Americans who use vehicles that burn gasoline.
The MRF will keep you updated on this and all other legislation that impacts motorcyclists.
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