The Dec. 5 Montgomery Weekly article "Giant Network of Bicycle Trails Envisioned" clearly demonstrates that the regional Council of Governments has no concept of reducing bloated budgets.
By COG's own numbers, of a potential 3,600 bicycle commuters, 1,242 already do commute -- although 1,000 of these also use Metro. The 2,358 bike riders who would be new commuter cyclists would cost more than $25,000 per person, assuming that the estimated $61 million needed for the region's paths does, in fact, produce more cyclists. With 875 miles of bicycle paths already built, the $61 million would cost more than $50,000 per mile for the remaining 1,125 miles. This is a great boondoggle for the 2 million people in the region.
The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission states that 24 cyclists (a number questioned by abutting residents) use Sligo Creek path every hour as the justification for a $150,000 cyclist-commuter project. This would widen the existing path four inches for five miles at the cost of $1.50 per square inch. That is a lot of coins in today's economy.
The three-mile-plus River Road trail is a prime example of extravagant expense. It is great for joggers, but I have only seen one commuter cyclist during rush hour, and he is on the road -- not the path.
Park Commission Chairman Gus Bauman's said that the trail is one of countless budgeted projects that would be lost if the money isn't spent. This doesn't show a professional budget approach by COG, NCPPC or Montgomery County. Many homeowners don't realize that each household pays about $300 annually to fund and operate COG's "activities." Turning COG over to volunteers would probably help our infrastructure and result in balanced municipal budgets.
WALTER F. EVANS Potomac