Action Alert: Federal bike funding threatened

This action alert just in from the League of American Bicyclists.

Key Congressional leaders are attacking Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational trails and are taking steps to cut off dedicated federal funding for bicycling and walking.

House Transportation Chairman John Mica (R-FL) announced today that his transportation bill will eliminate dedicated funding for bicycling and walking, including Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails Program, and discourages states from choosing to spend their dollars on these activities that are “not in the federal interest.” Chairman Mica’s statement that these programs remain “eligible” for funding is worthless; without dedicated funding for these three programs, they are effectively eliminated.

Things on the Senate side are not much better. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the lead Republican negotiator on the transportation bill, declared that one of his TOP THREE priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate ‘frivolous spending for bike trails.’ This is in direct conflict with Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) commitment to maintain dedicated funding for biking and walking. However, the Senate is working towards a bi-partisan solution, and Senator Inhofe’s comments mean funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs is at risk of total elimination.

Help protect Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails. Contact your Members of Congress and tell them to reach out to Senators Inhofe, Boxer, and Congressman Mica to urge them to continue funding for these important bicycling and walking programs.

Need some good facts to bolster your argument? Read on:

Not in the federal interest?
Biking and walking make up 12 percent of all trips in the US – even as funding for biking and walking projects only accounts for 1.5% of the federal transportation budget. That is more than 4 billion bicycle trips and 40 billion walking trips a year, including trips to work, school, shopping and for recreation and tourism.

Frivolous?
Two-thirds of all pedestrian deaths are on federally funded highways. One-third of children’s traffic deaths happen when children are walking or bicycling and are struck by cars. Bicycling and walking programs build sidewalks, crosswalks and bikeways—improving accessibility and saving lives.

The Facts

  • * Biking and walking are important forms of transportation, and funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements is a very efficient use of federal transportation dollars. Portland, OR built 300 miles of bike lanes and trails for the cost of one mile of highway.
  • * These projects create jobs and build local economies. Building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure creates 46% more jobs than building road-only projects per million dollars spent. Cities that invest in bicycle and pedestrian projects turn downtowns into destinations, and capitalize on increased business activity.
  • * Eliminating the 1.5% of transportation funding spent on bike/ped would have no meaningful impact on the federal budget, but instead, decreases transportation options for American families in a time of rising gas prices and an uncertain economy.

Why Act Now?
Both the House and Senate long-term transportation bills are being written as we speak. We still have a chance of influencing the outcomes. Let’s make sure that funding for biking and walking programs don’t disappear for many years.

We need every Senator to tell Senators Boxer and Inhofe that bicycling and walking are vital parts of our transportation system, and that there must be dedicated funding for sidewalks, bike lanes and trails to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are safe. And we need every Representative in the House to tell Chairman Mica the same.

Please contact your Senators and Representatives TODAY to tell them that bicycling and walking are a critical part of a safe and equitable transportation system. Ask them to tell Representative Mica and Senators Boxer and Inhofe that a federal transportation bill must continue dedicated funding for bicycling and walking.

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