A couple of days ago, Cato’s Tad DeHaven took aim at a new bicycle storage facility being built at Union Station in Washington, DC. I remarked ” I look forward to the day when the Cato Institute does a blog post denouncing each and every publicly financed parking lot or garage in the United States of America.” To which DeHaven responded yesterday:
I denounce each and every federally financed parking lot or garage in the United States of America on non-federal property. I’m one of those quaint individuals who recognizes that the Constitution grants the federal government specific enumerated powers. Using federal tax dollars to finance local parking garages, lots, bike centers and racks is not one of the powers granted to the federal government. So let me rephrase my statement from yesterday: Look, I harbor no animosity against [car drivers], but under what authority — legal or moral — does the federal government tax me in order to build [parking garages or lots] for parochial, special interests?
To be honest, rather than addressing my concern I think this response highlights the hypocrisy I was pointing out. I have no doubt that on some abstract level DeHaven is opposed to all kinds of federal funding of local transportation projects (though I note that a facility relating to a train station in the national capital seems like a plausible area of federal concern) but in practice he denounces a specific bicycle parking project as an example of unconstitutional waste while not in practice complaining about car facilities.
But I fired up the old Google and found plenty of specific examples of federally-funded parking garage projects. This one in Fairfax County cost $28.8 million. Here’s a story about “an application for $130 million in federal grant funds to help pay for a parking garage complex in downtown Bartow.” Here’s an account of a $9 million parking garage in Vermont “Partially funded with federal transportation money.”
And, look, I’m not kidding about this: I really do look forward to the day when the Cato Institute starts specifically denouncing all of this stuff and really going after it. As a supporter of bicycle initiatives, I think it’s nice to see the federal government kick some bucks into a bicycle facility. But as you can see that money is dwarfed by what’s spent on public (and, yes, federal) subsidies for automobile parking facilities. I would gladly equalize federal funding for car parking and bike parking at $0 per year. But I get annoyed when friends of limited government pick on the crumbs handed to cyclists while completely ignoring the loafs going to cars.