Federal Transportation Legislation
The federal transportation law is the largest source of U.S. bicycle infrastructure funding. The main reason Bikes Belong formed in 1999 was to maximize federal investments for bicycling in this law, which is typically reauthorized every five or six years.
For the past 20 years, a modest portion of federal transportation investments — less than one percent of all transportation funding — has been dedicated to biking and walking projects that make streets more accessible for everybody, reduce preventable traffic fatalities, help boost local economic development, and create jobs. Despite hard work by our many advocates and an outpouring of support from mayors, county executives, and the American public, a deal negotiated by a few members of Congress behind closed doors eliminates much of this popular, cost-effective funding.
Recently, a new, multi-year transportation bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. It will become law effective Oct. 1, 2012. The bill covers a two-year period that ends September 30, 2014. It reverses years of progress on biking and walking policy and eliminates all dedicated funding for local safety projects such as bike lanes, bike paths and sidewalks.
We must continue to work hard in states and local communities to make sure vital biking projects continue. The new transportation bill allows states to opt-out of half of the funds potentially available for biking projects. How much funding will be eliminated? Some states will likely spend 75-80 percent of what they’ve traditionally invested in bike infrastructure. Other states may reduce their spending to almost zero for the next two years. Much will depend on the work of bike advocates and bike businesses—with strong public support—to convince state and local leaders that bike investments are essential and beneficial. Bikes Belong will be working persistently to make this happen.
Leading up to the bill, Bikes Belong asked our members to urge their U.S. Representatives and Senators to support the Cardin-Cochran amendment, and reject proposals calling for dramatic and disproportionate cuts to programs that have made bicycling safe and practical for most Americans:
News Story: Bike funding for your community is under attack.
Poll results: 83% of Americans Support Federal Funding for Biking & Walking
Letter: More than 70 national organizations urging Congress to support the Cardin-Cochran Agreement
Document: Specifics of Cardin-Cochran Agreement
Document: MISSION: READINESS - 300 retired senior military leaders support the inclusion of the Cardin-Cochran provision in the transportation bill
Document: U.S. Mayors Urge Congress to Preserve Funding for Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs in the Transportation bill
The good news: it could have been a lot worse. Originally, some U.S. Representatives were hoping to remove eligibility for biking and walking projects, meaning that no federal transportation funds could have been spent on sidewalks and bikeways. Thanks to tireless organizing, thousands of phone calls, and hundreds of thousands of emails from Bikes Belong supporters and others, biking and walking avoided an even bigger hit.
Thanks for your steady interest, enthusiasm, and active participation. Better days for bicycling in America are just down the road.