Action Alert: Bicycle and pedestrian funding in danger!

Key Congressional leaders are attacking Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational trails and are taking steps to cut off dedicated federal funding for bicycling and walking. We need you to call Senator Barbara Boxer today to save this federal funding.

House Transportation Chairman John Mica (R-FL) announced today that his transportation bill will eliminate dedicated funding for bicycling and walking, including Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails Program, and discourages states from choosing to spend their dollars on these activities that are “not in the federal interest.” Chairman Mica’s statement that these programs 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), the lead Republican negotiator on the transportation bill, 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 (D-CA) 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 bicycle and pedestrian programs is at risk of total elimination.

Help protect Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails. Contact Senator Boxer today to urge her to continue funding for these important bicycling and walking programs.

Need some good facts to bolster your argument? Read on:

Not in the federal 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% of the federal transportation budget. That is more than 4 billion bicycle trips and 40 billion walking trips a year, including trips to work, school, shopping and for recreation and tourism.

Frivolous? Two-thirds of all pedestrian deaths are on federally funded highways. One-third of children’s traffic deaths happen when children are walking or bicycling and are struck by cars. Bicycling and walking programs build sidewalks, crosswalks and bikeways—improving accessibility and saving lives.

The Facts

  • Biking and walking are important forms of transportation, and funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements is a very efficient use of federal transportation dollars. Portland, OR built 300 miles of bike lanes and trails for the cost of one mile of highway.
  • These projects create jobs and build local economies. Building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure creates 46% 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.
  • Eliminating the 1.5% of transportation funding spent on bike/ped would have no meaningful impact on the federal budget, but instead, decreases transportation options for American families in a time of rising gas prices and an uncertain economy.

Why Act Now? 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 funding for biking and walking programs don’t disappear for many years.

We need you to call Senator Boxer today, let her know that you are one of her constituents, and urge her to preserve funds for bicycling and walking in the federal transportation bill.

Calls to DC are best. Her Washington, DC office number: (202) 224-3553. If it's busy and you're short for time, here is her LA office number: (213) 894-5000. You can also email the senator at this link: http://boxer.senate.gov/en/contact/policycomments.cfm.

Your call today will ensure that our bicycling and walking programs have the funding they need to make the East Bay a great place to bike and walk. Thank you for biking and for calling Barbara Boxer today with this urgent message.

And a big thanks to everyone who reached out to Senator Boxer on Bike to Work Day. Your calls made a difference and she came out with a strong commitment to preserving funding for bicycling and walking. She needs to hear from you again today so she will stay strong in the face of this opposition.

Update July 8, 2011
In the hours since yesterday's press conference, our partners at America Bikes have analyzed the outline released by John Mica (R-FL), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.There were very few details and very few surprises in the bill — and some significant challenges for biking and walking.

Highlights overall
The bill will be a 6-year, $230 billion bill. Mica is bound to House rules to keep the bill at that size. He is passing the buck to the ways and means committee.
The bill gives states increased flexibility.
The bill expedites project delivery. Mica claims it cuts the time in half.
Mica had several other Republican members of the committee on the dais with him, and had each of them express their support. These members were Hanna (NY), LoBiondo (NJ), Duncan (TN), Shuster (PA), Gibbs (OH), Bucshon (Il), and Landry (LA). Many were there because they chair a T&I subcommittee, but all expressed their support for the bill. This is disheartening, because these are several of the moderate Republican members of the committee.
Timing
Mica is waiting to get floor time before he introduces the bill. He is hoping that will be before August, but, at this time, transportation is not on the House floor schedule.
Highlights Regarding Bike/Ped Programs
There will be no Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School or Recreational Trails in the bill
Mica kept insisting that bicycle and pedestrian projects would be ‘eligible’ for funding. It's important that we be clear that eligibility is not the same thing as dedicated funding. Given the overall cuts in funding (in particular to STP and CMAQ), the increased flexibility for state DOTs and the likely elimination of TE, bike/ped and SRTS coordinator positions, it will make accessing these funds more difficult in states with good DOTs, and exceeding difficult in states with bad DOTs.
Mica said there would be no mandate forcing states to spend money on ‘non-highway’ projects.
Mica specifically called out the Nonmotorized Pilot Project as "not in the national interest" (which I take as code for all bike/ped).
Bill channels funding to projects in the national and regional interests.

Performance Measures
Mica also stated that the flexibility to spend on such projects will be monitored by performance measures.
We believe these will include congestion, safety and state of good repair.
As an example however, the entire discussion on safety revolved around truck and bus safety and teenage drivers.
Sub-Allocation/ Flexibility to States
When asked if the sub allocation to STP would remain the same, Mica answered “There will be funds appropriated to STP”. He did not address the sub allocation question.
We don’t know for sure if that means Mica misunderstood the question or he avoided the question.
NACTO has been pushing this issue throughout and believe that Mica’s main point of ‘flexibility to states” is in conflict with their interests.

Significant Cuts to STP and CMAQ
The overall bill cuts funding by 35%, but those cuts are not even across programs.
The proportion of funds going to the national highway system, bridges and interstate Maintenance will significantly increase, and that increase will come out of programs like CMAQ and STP.
Safety
We're unclear on the effects to HSIP
NHTSA/ 402 funding
Changes to NHTSA allow states to flex money out of NHTSA depending on safety record (again safety discussion focused on trucks and buses and youth drivers).
The bill establishes a focus on seat belt use, youth driving and impaired driving.
Democrats on Mica's Bill
Democrats from the T&I committee held a press conference to respond to the Mica bill.
Rep. Nick Rahall described it as a “Road to Ruin.”
They called for a 2-year bill at higher funding – much like Sen. Barbara Boxer.
They are united in rejecting the Mica bill, and rejecting Mica’s claim that the process has been at all bi partisan or transparent.

Others Responses
Transportation for America: Their response is attached, which includes: “We are particularly concerned at the proposal to eliminate dedicated funding that helps provide more safe options for walking and biking."
Industry Groups: In general the industry groups are trying hard to support the bill. They praise the expediting of projects but all comment on the hardships such a low funding level means.
AASHTO and ARBTA (road builders ) are positive
APTA, Chamber and Labor are critical
Thank you again for your immediate action on this urgent issue. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Jeremy Grandstaff
Member Services Director