Action Alert: Protect SRTS and bike/ped funding in the Federal Transportation Bill

Our colleagues at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership are making a special push in California this week, and they need you to contact your State Assembly and Senate Members TODAY.

ACTION ALERT

  • -Contact your California State Assembly and Senate Members this Week.
  • -Ask Them to Sign-On to a California Letter to Senator Boxer urging her to protect Safe Routes to School and bike/ped funding in the Federal Transportation Bill.

California Friends of Safe Routes to School,

As you’ve probably heard, the federal draft of the Senate Transportation Bill which passed out of Senator Boxer’s committee last November is not good for Safe Routes to School, bicycling or walking. It reduces funding for the programs and combines them all into an “additional activities” program that includes many new eligible uses including big ticket items such as wetland mitigation, NEPA mitigation and roadway uses. This could destroy California funding streams for bicycling and walking.

State Senator Mark Leno has agreed to circulate a sign-on letter from California State Legislators to Senator Boxer (see copy below), asking for her leadership to protect bicycle and pedestrian funding.

We need you to contact your California Senate and Assembly members ASAP to ask them to sign-on. It’s easy following these three steps:

  1. Find the contact information for your members here by entering your zip code: http://www.legislature.ca.gov/port-zipsearch.html
  2. Call the Sacramento (916) numbers for both your Senate and Assembly members. If you know someone on staff, ask to speak to that person, if you don’t know someone on staff tell the person who answers the phone, “My name is XXX and I’m from NAME OF CITY. I’m calling to ask NAME OF LEGISLATOR to sign-on to a letter to Senator Boxer which is being circulated by Senator Leno. The letter urges Senator Boxer to protect bicycle and pedestrian funding in the federal transportation bill. Will NAME OF LEGISLATOR sign-on?”
  3. Ask the staffer who you speak with if they could please get back to you to tell you if the member signs-on. If they ask for a copy of the letter, you can provide the copy that is below. If they ask for the staff lead for Senator Leno’s office, you can let them know that it’s Barry Steinhart.

The deadline for sign-ons is Tuesday, January 17, so please make the calls today. A strong message from the state of California will help Senator Boxer to stay strong when the Senate transportation bill reaches the floor soon.

Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Deb Hubsmith, Director
Safe Routes to School National Partnership

CALIFORNIA SIGN-ON LETTER TO SENATOR BOXER FROM CALIFORNIA STATE LEGISLATORS
DEADLINE: JANUARY 17, 2012

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Re: Request for Your Leadership in Protecting Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding

Dear Senator Boxer,

We, the undersigned California legislators, ask you to make improvements to your recently introduced MAP-21 transportation bill to ensure that the communities we represent have access to dedicated funding for bicycling and walking infrastructure and programs.

We are extremely concerned about the fate of funding for bicycling and walking given a number of provisions in MAP-21. MAP-21 would move Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails into a new “Additional Activities” fund within the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program. The “Additional Activities” program has a number of troubling provisions. We respectfully request that as Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that you seek to:

  • • Increase the funding available for the “Additional Activities” to be at least comparable to the existing funding levels for Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, and Recreational Trails combined;
  • • Remove the eligibilities for environmental mitigation and highway redesign, as these eligibilities are better paid for out of highway designated funds and significantly decrease the possibility that the communities we serve will be able to compete for bicycle and pedestrian funding; and
  • • End the loopholes that would allow state Departments of Transportation to redirect bicycling and walking funding to roads and bridges, specifically by removing the opt-out clause and limiting the amount of Additional Activities funding that can be flexed for other uses.

All across California, our constituents and local government officials are seeking ways to manage debilitating traffic congestion, decrease air pollution and our impact on climate change, and improve health and physical activity levels for children and families. Fortunately, safe infrastructure for bicycling and walking can address all of these disparate challenges. Bicycling and walking also provides inexpensive transportation options that are particularly important for lower-income working people and families. In addition, critical in this economy, studies show bicycle and pedestrian projects support local business and that active transportation construction projects create more jobs per $1 million than roadways built exclusively for cars.

Building infrastructure for safe bicycling and walking is as inexpensive as it is important. The commitments made by SAFETEA-LU to improve bicycling and walking in the U.S. were accomplished with just 1.5 percent of total federal transportation funding despite the 12 percent of trips that bicycling and walking represent and the 14 percent of traffic deaths (20 percent in California) suffered by bicycling and walking road users. Every one of those federal transportation dollars are critical if our communities are to be able to fulfill their vision to be safe, healthy and prosperous.

We greatly appreciate your assistance and ask for your leadership in ensuring that the federal transportation bill ensures dedicated funding for bicycling and walking is available and truly accessible to California’s local communities.

Sincerely,

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