The constitution mandates that we build highways, but not bike lanes. So says Duncan Hunter, a freshman Republican congressman from suburban San Diego.

I'm not making this up. A short interview with Hunter, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, posted by DC Streetsblog is the talk of the alternative transportation crowd.

"SB: But you're OK with mandating highways?"

"DH: Absolutely, yeah. Because that's in the constitution. I don't see riding a bike the same as driving a car or flying an airplane."

Read the whole thing here.

What the constitution actually says, in Article 1, § 8 is, "The Congress shall have power … to establish post offices and post roads."

That's as close as the constitution gets to highways, possibly because the automobile had not been invented yet. In the 18th century, post roads were traversed by horse and buggy (which would definitely qualify as alternative transportation today!).

I should note that Hunter represents a region that, thanks to the San Diego Association of Governments, is pursuing just about every idea there is for getting people out of their cars and onto trains, trolleys, buses, bicycles and even their feet. The new congressman appears unaware of this trend.

I wrote two months ago that the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives could be bad news for alternative transportation which, in turn, would be bad news for California, where alternatives to the car are becoming mainstream. The news is starting to look disastrous.

– Paul Shigley