Key Lawmakers Acting to End Dedicated Bicycling and Walking Funding
Friday, July 8, 2011
Posted by: Debra Goeks
Key Congressional leaders on the transportation bill are taking steps to eliminate dedicated federal funding for Safe Routes to School and bicycling and walking. This is a critical time to respond to Congress and let them know how important these programs are.
Chairman Mica (R-FL) announced on Thursday, July 7, that his Transportation bill will eliminate all dedicated funding for biking and walking—including Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails Program—referring to these programs as "not in the national interest”. Chairman Mica's statement that these uses remain "eligible” for funding is worthless: without dedicated funding for these three programs they are effectively eliminated.
Things on the Senate side are not much better. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), a lead negotiator in the Senate debate, declared that one of his TOP THREE priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate ‘frivolous spending for bike trails.' This is in direct conflict with Senator Barbara Boxer's commitment to maintain dedicated funding for biking and walking. However, the Senate is working towards a bi-partisan solution – and Senator Inhofe's comments mean funding for bicycling and pedestrian programs is at risk of total elimination.
Not in the National Interest?
Biking and walking make up 12 percent of all trips in the US—even as funding for biking and walking projects only accounts for 1.5 percent of the federal transportation budget. That's more than 4 billion bicycle trips and 40 billion walking trips a year—including trips to work, school, shopping and for recreation and tourism.
Bicyclists and pedestrians are the victims of reckless highway design, accounting for 14 percent of all traffic related deaths. Two-thirds of all pedestrian deaths are on federally funded highways. Bicycling and walking programs build sidewalks, crosswalks and bikeways, improving accessibility and saving lives.
Biking and walking are important forms of transportation, and dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements is a very efficient use of federal transportation dollars. Portland, Oregon, built a 300-mile network of bike lanes, multi-use trails, and bike boulevards for the cost of one mile of highway.
These projects also create jobs, and build local economies. Building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure creates 46 percent more jobs than building road-only projects per million dollars spent. Cities that invest in bicycle and pedestrian projects turn downtowns into destinations and capitalize on increased business activity.
Finally, shifting 1.5 percent of transportation spending has no impact on the federal budget, but instead, decreases transportation options for American families in a time of rising gas prices and an uncertain economy.
Help Protect Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails. Contact your representatives in Congress, and tell them to reach out to Senators Inhofe, Boxer, and Congressman Mica to urge them continue dedicated funding for these important biking and walking programs.
Both the House and Senate long-term transportation bills are being written as we speak. We still have a chance of influencing the outcomes. Let's make sure that dedicated funding for biking and walking programs doesn't disappear for many years.
We need every Senator to tell Senators Boxer and Inhofe that bicycling and walking are a vital part of our transportation system. Please contact your two Senators today and ask them to tell Senators Boxer and Inhofe that there must be dedicated funding for sidewalks, bike lanes and trails to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are safe.
And we need every Representative in the House to tell Chairman Mica that bicycling and walking are a critical part of a safe and equitable transportation system. Please contact your Representative today and ask them to tell Chairman Mica that a federal transportation bill at any funding level must continue dedicated funding for bicycling and walking.
CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW to contact your Senators and Representatives TODAY. It will take you less than two minutes to do this. Stand up today for bicycling and walking. Pass this information along to others who will take action. Thank you!