The League of American Bicyclists would like take this opportunity to thank Secretary Ray LaHood for his vision for a national transportation system that includes biking and walking as a key ingredient of developing livable and sustainable communities. It is unfortunate that there are still many in Congress such as Mr. Coburn and Mr. McCain who do not grasp that more and more Americans want the option to be able to ride and walk safely within their communities.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of bicycle commuters has grown 43 percent since 2000, truly an indication that the number of Americans that have found bicycling to be a healthy and efficient way of getting to work is on the rise. The League of American Bicyclists also reports that in communities with greater bicycling infrastructure investments, bicycling commuting went up 69 percent.
Clearly, we have seen that increased bicycling helps communities thrive. Case in point, between 1991 and 2008, Portland, Ore. invested $57 million to create a 300- mile bikeway network – roughly the same cost of one mile of urban highway. In that period, bicycling increased significantly, at an annual rate of 10 percent. Since 2006, there has been a 38 percent increase in the value of bicycle-related industry sector, with total economic activity close to $90 million. In addition, Portlanders have saved $12 million in fuel and $10 million in healthcare costs by bicycling.
We also want to thank the Secretary and his Department for working hard to get the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding out to states quickly. Under ARRA, states were required to spend 3 percent of their highway transportation funding on Transportation Enhancements (TE). Transportation Enhancements are federally funded, community-based projects that expand travel choices. Under ARRA, states were also required to obligate 50 percent of their highway transportation funding, including transportation enhancements, by June 30, 2009. Research conducted, by America Bikes, found that, by the June 30the deadline, States had awarded over 64 percent of the funding provided under ARRA. These projects provided much-needed jobs to local communities.
Funding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure a waste? We think not, we must agree with Secretary LaHood, this is progress.
Director of Advocacy, League of American Bicyclists
Finch joined the League in 2006 and has more than 20 years of experience in the transportation industry. He worked as a government relations associate with G.S. Proctor & Associates, served as the chief of staff for a member of Maryland’s House of Delegates, and worked at the U.S. Department of Transportation as the Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary, Office of Intermodalism.