There has been a lot of contention on Capitol Hill as of late. From the climate fight to the debt ceiling it seems that no issue is safe from a meltdown of Congressional proportions. However, there has always been one area where both parties come together which is the safety children—that is until yesterday.
On February 2nd the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure voted on a bill which eliminates the extremely successful Safe Routes to Schools Program Yes, you read that right—the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 7) eliminated a program which provides children with access to safe trails and paths to get to school. What would Members prefer exactly? That children dodge traffic on the way to school…you know to build up resilience?
Just when I thought all hope was lost Congressman Petri a Republican from Wisconsin offered a bi-partisan amendment (remember those?) to add the program back into the legislation. Like a good Polinista I tuned in to watch the debate unfold—knowing that there is no way that Members could justify cutting such a program, oh how wrong I was.
Not a minute into watching did I hear phrases such as “unnecessary” , “waste of resources” and “it’s not the government’s job”, that I almost had an Office Space moment and took a bat to my computer monitor when the amendment failed.
Pedestrians and Bicyclist account for 13% of transportation fatalities nationwide. Yet creating much needed trails, paths and bike lanes are waste of money, really?
Not to mention the fact that we are in the midst of a childhood epidemic with 17% of children being diagnosed as obese. Time outdoors walking, cycling, and simply playing on safe nature trails and paths would go a long way to break down barriers to the outdoors and begin to reverse this disturbing health trend. However, if you ask the 29 Members that voted against the measure they would tell you that protecting the well being of America’s children is not their responsibility.
If it’s not our government’s job to protect us and help us help ourselves, then whose job is it?