Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Federal transportation bill, Map-21, cuts bike/walk funding dramatically

Bicycling and walking programs suffer large and disproportionate funding cuts 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.
 This bill:
  • 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."
There is understandable fury about the elimination of funding for bicycling and walking programs in the proposed highway bill. This action does nothing to reduce the size of the bill and eliminates local control over what would be a tiny portion (1.5%) of the overall transportation program. Gutting policy language that has given bicyclists and pedestrians a role transportation planning and design for the past 20 years is a huge step backwards. 
Last week, Congress did what many thought impossible – they passed a new transportation authorization bill. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday. Unfortunately, that achievement came at the cost of a balanced bill that keeps strong dedicated funding for biking and walking projects. The new bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), weakens and cuts dedicated bicycle and walking programs. This is certainly going to slow progress towards a bicycle friendly America.

Submitted by rebecca (Atanta bicycle Coalition) on Thu, 2012-06-28 16:18 


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