State legislators, as they take on the long-delayed matter of adequately funding mass transit and highway and bridge repairs, have an opportunity to go back to the future. That is, they can help promote earlier modes of transportation that can help foster better health and reduced pollution.
State Sen. John Rafferty, a Montgomery County Republican and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said he will introduce a comprehensive transportation bill this month that includes funding and planning requirements for walking and bicycle routes.
The idea builds off the success in states that have dedicated funding for walking and bicycle paths, and from Philadelphia, where a tripling in the number of commuters using bicycles has contributed to a decline in the obesity rate.
Mr. Rafferty said his bill will total between $2.5 billion and $2.8 billion, of which the new funding would be a very minor component.
But the change would be systemic in that it would require planning for walking and bicycling paths in conjunction with road projects, such as the 4-foot shoulders that some states require to accommodate walkers and bicyclists.
The initiative would be a minor investment for significant improvements in health and air quality. Lawmakers should embrace the concept.