June 28, 2012
Greetings from Vancouver, British Columbia and Velo-City 2012, the international conference focused on all things bicycling, from urban bike facilities to bike touring. There is amazing energy here, and all across the world (literally), biking is booming. Biking is popular for transportation and recreation. It's in demand in big cities and small towns. It's getting significant support from national and local governments.
So early this morning, on a conference call with my colleagues at America Bikes -- the national coalition working for better policies and resources at the federal level in the U.S. -- it was truly disappointing to examine the apparently final new federal transportation bill which will be voted on by Congress as early as tomorrow.
Below, I've pasted the America Bikes statement regarding the bill, but in brief, it's a very bad bill. It will cut investments in biking and walking as much as 60-70%. In some states, which choose to opt-out of biking and walking programs, the bill could mean eliminating 100% of all federal investments. That would mean zero or very limited investment in safer bike lanes, paths, and safer routes to school for millions of kids, and more dangerous streets in general.
If this bill is passed and signed into law (as seems likely), America's cycling groups will have to work harder than ever at the state and local levels to improve cycling conditions.
We appreciate everything everyone has done to maintain any support for cycling at the national level (it helped stave off complete elimination of any national bike/walk program). While this outcome seems bleak, I can assure you, based on my experience here at Velo-City and my experience traveling around the country -- meeting thousands of people and hundreds of groups pushing for better cycling -- that we in the American cycling community, along with our many partners, shall overcome this obstacle and we shall continue to make bicycling an even more vital part of the U.S. transportation and recreation systems.
AMERICA BIKES STATEMENT ON FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION BILL
June 28, 2012
The America Bikes coalition -- representing the nation’s leading bicycling and walking groups -- and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership oppose the new transportation bill, which would nationally cut funding for biking and walking projects by 60 to 70 percent.
We are deeply concerned that bicycling and walking programs suffer large and disproportionate cuts in funding in the new bill. Programs that save lives and dollars are eliminated.
The full extent of cuts to biking and walking funding will be determined at the state level and may be even deeper. We will continue to work in states and local communities to support safe, accessible streets.
The new transportation bill is a bad bill for biking and walking.
Cuts available biking and walking funds by 60 to 70 percent. Biking and walking programs are combined into a single program, Transportation Alternatives, with drastically reduced funding.
Eliminates dedicated Safe Routes to School funding. The bill eliminates dedicated funding for the massively popular and cost-effective Safe Routes to School program, which helps make walking and biking to school safer for millions of American schoolchildren.
Weakens local control. The new transportation bill allows states to opt-out of half of the funds potentially available for small-scale biking and walking projects. Whereas the bi-partisan Senate bill allowed local governments and planning entities to compete for 1% of transportation funds, the new bill allows states to opt-out of the local grant program completely.
Makes biking and walking compete with new, expensive eligibilities. Eligibilities such as road uses and environmental mitigation have been added to Transportation Alternatives, making it harder for local communities to compete for funding for local biking and walking projects.
This two-year bill represents a major step backwards in transportation policy for transportation choices and healthy physical activity. Despite this temporary setback in national policy, bicycling and walking will continue to grow and gain support, and Americans will continue to demand safer, more accessible streets and communities. Going forward, biking and walking will return to a central place in America’s transportation policies and programs.