A new transportation bill is 889 days late, according to our pals over at Transportation for America, so excitement is running high that the Senate might actually vote this week on a new bill – MAP-21 (S.1813). Of course, there’s still the little matter of the House bill having imploded in recent days, so I doubt President Obama is clearing his schedule for a bill signing ceremony just yet. But progress is progress and we hope that Senate moves quickly to pass their bill as amended by Senator Reid – because that version of the bill includes the Cardin-Cochran amendment which preserves dedicated funding for bicycling and walking.
Inclusion of Cardin-Cochran in MAP-21 is a really big deal. Thanks to the outpouring of support for the bipartisan amendment that was heard loud and clear in every Senate office, Senate leaders took this welcome step late Friday, and it truly is a testament to the value and influence of effective grassroots action, a strong Capitol Hill presence, and timely input from local elected officials and business leaders. Thank you to everyone who called and wrote; and thanks to Senators Cardin and Cochran who were wiling to step up and make this possible.
As with any bill this size, there are still a few things that we’d have the Senate fix in MAP-21 that haven’t yet been addressed by the amended version. Two that stand out, and which may yet be the subject of debate and votes on the Senate floor, are the sidepath provision and the Klobuchar amendment.
The proposed mandatory sidepath law on federal lands remains in the bill. We’re working closely with Senators Jeff Merkley and Al Franken to remove or amend this section to make it less onerous (not to mention that it is unnecessary, groundless, impractical and inequitable to boot) and preserve our rights to the road in our Federal lands. Take action.
The Klobuchar amendment would go beyond Cardin-Cochran and preserve the recreational trails program pretty much as is – complete with its own revenue stream from ORV fuel taxes. This would be a big boost to our friends at IMBA, for whom this is a critical program. Take action.
For those of you with bandwidth remaining, check out other actions and amendments being tracked by Transportation for America – and, of course, come to the National Bike Summit, March 20-22, to get the very latest information and to play your part in our great democracy, in person.
Andy Clarke was appointed to the position of Executive Director in April of 2004 after successfully leading efforts to create, interpret and implement the various transportation programs that are available to improve conditions for bicycling and walking as the League’s State and Local Advocacy Director. Before joining the League in February 2003, Clarke was on contract to provide technical assistance to the highly regarded Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center on site at the Federal Highway Administration. He is on the Board of Directors for America Bikes, and a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals.