Of economic stimuli and bike bridges

Today, D’val Westphal’s “Road Warrior” column in the Albuquerque Journal noted some comments from a bike rider on our recent report on the stimulus-funded bike bridge over the Rio Grande.

The comments included a critique of our methodology with valid points like:

bike commuters leave earlier than rush-hour traffic because it takes them longer to get where they’re going. Placing someone on the bridge for 50 minutes during rush-hour is simply too late. Second, bike commuters wouldn’t be dressed in work clothes, unless they work in bright/reflective clothing designed not to get caught in a bike chain. Bike commuters change into work clothes after they arrive.

Fair enough. This was not meant to be an exhaustive economic analysis of traffic on the bridge. After all, we don’t have the resources or man-power to station people on the bridge for hours at a time throughout the year. That is why, in our original release on the bridge, I stated “After a year, it would be great if a government agency provided some data on whether or not this bridge was worth the cost, but that is not the way government operates.”

In other words, it would be great if government did a final analysis over the merits of its spending projects, but it does not. It just spends the money and goes onto the next thing regardless of the success (or, more likely failure) of the spending. For more on this, see today’s Albuquerque Journal “Poor Predictions” on the failing, taxpayer-financed Santa Ana Star Center.