WASHINGTON - The Obama administration more than doubled transportation spending on bicycling and walking last year, seeking to coax Americans out of their cars, a Federal Highway Administration report said Wednesday.
Spending on biking and walking projects rose from $600 million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2009. Twenty years ago, the government was spending only $6 million a year on such projects.
The spending was scheduled to rise last year anyway, but the administration boosted it with $400 million in funds set aside under the economic recovery program.
The new focus on biking and walking represents a turnaround from the administration of President George W. Bush. Mary Peters, transportation secretary under Bush, dismissed biking paths and trails as projects that "really are not transportation."
In March, Obama's transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, announced a policy "sea change" that gives biking and walking projects the same importance as automobiles in transportation planning and selecting projects for federal money. - AP