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As Gas Prices Rise, Bicycle Ridership Is Up -- So Why Are Lawmakers Gutting Bike Programs?

The price tag for more than 3,000 federally funded bike and pedestrian projects last year amounted to less than half the cost of one highly contested highway project.

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Biking and walking make far fewer demands on the public purse than driving, so it follows that government programs to boost the number of trips on foot and bike will be an important component of any cost-effective approach to transportation. A mile of new urban freeway costs $46-100 million, according to former House of Representative Transportation chairman Jim Oberstar, while a mile of 12-foot-wide bikeway costs $125,000.

With gas prices soaring, health care costs skyrocketing, political instability continuing across the Middle East, and more American families struggling to pay monthly bills, low-cost projects to help more people walk and bike offer a wise investment. In fact, Republican and Democrats alike should support these policies as patriotic, fiscally responsible and forward-looking.

Jay Walljasper is editor of OnTheCommons.org, a news and culture website devoted to recognizing the importance of the commons -- those things that belong to all of us -- in modern life.

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