Transportation bill on hold, but federal support for bicycling growing
July 26, 2010
The next multi-year federal transportation bill -- the key funding legislation for U.S. bicycle infrastructure projects and programs like Safe Routes to School -- is unlikely to be seriously considered by Congress until early 2011. While bike money continues to flow thanks to a series of funding extensions approved by Congress, the delay is not good news. Why? The Administration, the Secretary of Transportation, a growing number of members of Congress, and a dozens of big-city mayors are ready to make additional, cost-effective investments in bicycling, but they can't, because the dollars simply aren't available.
Despite the federal budget deficit and tight economy, federal bike project investment surpassed $1.3 billion during fiscal year 2009. This unprecedented sum is proof that bike projects are viewed positively by senior government officials as job creators, road congestion-reducers, and beneficial to public health and quality of life.
The next federal transportation bill will be crucial for the future of bicycling in the United States. Bikes Belong and our partner members of the America Bikes Coalition are working to ensure that new legislation increases cost-effective investments in bike facilities, supports Complete Streets policies and Safe Routes to School, and makes new, concentrated investments in Active Transportation networks in many of the largest U.S. cities. Our Bikes Belong Foundation launched the peopleforbikes.org campaign to increase the clout of the pro-bike perspective when this legislation is considered.
During the first half of 2010, a new, high-profile champion for U.S. bicycling emerged. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood led the development of positive new DOT bike policy guidelines. He regularly praised bicycling in his official Fast Lane blog. His rousing closing speech was a highlight of the 10th National Bike Summit. He has gone so far as to make the case why people who never bike should enthusiastically support investments in bike facilities.