Over the past few years, we have been working hard to make sure that bicycling gets a fair shake in the transportation bill. I am sorry to report that we LOST with the signing of the new transportation bill. Please read the note below from Tim Blumenthal, President of Bikes Belong on the details.
The good news: we fight the good fight. Bicycles are a simple solution to congestion problems, energy dependence, environmental issues, and health issues. We have won a lot of battles over the last 15 years and while we lost a big one this week, we will be back. Lesson learned, if everyone who really cared about making America a cycling friendly country got involved, we would have easily won this battle. Too many people sat on the sidelines and as a CAUSE we need to be better organized next time around. We will be.
I want to thank everyone in the Trek family who made an effort by calling Congressional leaders over the years, for attending National Bike Summits and State Summits, and for moving the meter in many different ways. You have made a big difference in the future of the bicycle in America and we are just getting started.
From: Tim Blumenthal
Date: Thursday, June 28, 2012 8:58 PM
To: Bikes Belong Board
Subject: Update on the transportation bill
As you probably know, a new three-year federal transportation bill will likely be approved by Congress by the end of the week. The bill covers the period October 2011-September 2014.
It includes major cuts for bicycling infrastructure funding—potentially as much as 60-70 percent by some calculations (that I believe are too pessimistic). Dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School, which totaled $131 million in the last fiscal year, has been eliminated. Dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements, which totaled $266 million for bike/ped funding in the last fiscal year, has also been eliminated.
Most potential bike funding programs and opportunities fall into a new category called Transportation Alternatives. Recreational Trails money for bike trails, which accounted for about $31 million in spending during the last fiscal year, is now included in this category, as is Safe Routes to School. The bad news about this category is that environmental mitigation (which used to be treated separately) has also been inserted, as have some projects that focus on road repairs and improvements. Exactly how much money is available to fund Transportation Alternatives is still being determined and debated, but it will likely be a small number compared to what has traditionally been available to support bike stuff.
If there is good news—as of today, it doesn’t seem like there is much—it’s that local governments will be able to decide how to spend half of the Transportation Alternatives money. This is a new provision—and it’s a good thing for bicycling because city and town leaders tend to value bike programs more highly than state departments of transportation.
The text of the bill was finally released last night (Wednesday) about midnight. As you can imagine, it is long and complicated. We have a lot to learn to determine our potential to secure funding during the next two years. (While the bill is technically a three-year bill, funding will continue until September 30, 2012, at historical (higher) levels and with dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School.)
This means that fiscal year 2012 should go down in the record books as one of the best for federal investments in bicycling—most likely in the neighborhood of $800 million spent, just like last year.
Download America Bikes final statement from America Bikes. As you know, we fund America Bikes in its entirety, and serve on its board of directors.
Finally, there always is a chance for a final-hour rebellion against this bill. It could come from Tea Party members of Congress who are unhappy that the overall bill funding level requires money to be transferred in from the general fund. I don’t think this is likely, but I have to admit that we’re hoping it does. In that case, transportation funding would likely continue into early next year at current levels, and we’ve have additional time to push back against massive and disproportionate cuts.
One thing is for sure: we will need to become more effective in each state and in more cities to secure the money that is available to make bicycling safer and easier for Americans.
Tim Blumenthal, President
Bikes Belong Coalition
Bikes Belong Foundation
P.O. Box 2359
Boulder, Colorado 80306 USA
phone: 303/449-4893, ext. 1
street: 207 Canyon Blvd., Suite 202
Boulder, CO 80302
Bikes Belong: Putting More People On Bicycles More Often
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