Bike & Pedestrian Activists Amp Up to Protest Budget Cuts

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BikeHouston.org and other groups are calling for people to take to the barricades, or at least the public-comments rostrum, when an important transportation group meets to allot funds for the coming years Friday.

Activists say "alternative modes" of transit such as bike paths and pedestrian projects are getting cut to allow for more spending on roads and rails.

The $9.8 billion Transportation Improvement Program takes all the funds -- federal, TxDOT, etc. -- coming to the members of the Greater Houston-Galveston Area Council and allots them along certain policy lines.

Friday's meeting will see proposed cuts in alternative-mode projects, but Harris County Judge Ed Emmett tells Hair Balls overall spending in that category will increase, percentagewise, over previous years.

Earlier decisions on how to spend the money in the current process showed alternative-mode programs receiving 20 percent of the funds, he said, and that's not good.

"If you go to the general public and say we're going to spend 20 percent of the total mobility dollars and put it on hike-and-bike things, eh, they wouldn't like that," he says. "But if we cut it to zero, they wouldn't like that, either."

To get the level of spending on alternative-mode down to an agreed level of 11.2 percent of the total, Emmett said, some projects will be axed Friday.

He notes that the 11.2 percent share is higher than the previous 10.1 percent.

Jay Crossley of Houston Tomorrow says increasing the share over previous years isn't enough, because spending on alternative modes in those years was too low.

"I would not hold up previous TIPs as a model of prudent spending, he says.

Here's the agenda and the details on Friday's meeting.

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