The new transportation bill is bad for bicycling and walking. There is no dancing around the issue: the bill will result in significant cuts to available funding for bicycling and walking programs and hands even more power to state departments of transportation for the allocation of the remaining “transportation alternatives” dollars.
The bill represents a fundamental step backwards in the way nonmotorized transportation is addressed. The bill is an old-school highway bill, a throw-back to a by-gone era at a time when we should have a future-oriented transportation bill that enables state and local government to expand transportation choices, improve the safety of all road users, and respond to the health, energy, and environmental challenges at the national and local level.
We expect House and Senate to vote on the transportation conference report by Saturday.
The horrible irony is that it could have been much worse. If it weren’t for the incredible outpouring of support for bicycling and walking programs from around the country; the voices of countless local elected officials; and the efforts of our supporters on Capitol Hill; we might be looking at a bill that eliminated bicycling and walking policies and programs entirely. That was the intent of House leadership and a handful of Senators who repeatedly attacked any and all provisions for bicycling and walking in the current law.
We also find it deplorable that a 600-page transportation bill, that is 1,000 days overdue, has been written behind closed doors, published in the dead of night with just hours remaining for members of Congress to look at the language before having to vote on a massive spending bill that also wraps in legislation completely unrelated to transportation. That’s not how good policy is created, and this bill is not good policy for the nation or for our communities.
The bill is a two-year bill. Together with our colleagues in the America Bikes coalition, we are committed to working at the state and local level to win a fair share for bicycling and walking programs despite the hurdles and disincentives that this bill puts in place. And we are committed to starting work immediately on a transportation bill in 2014 that reflects the wishes and needs of the American people in the 21st century — not the mid-20th century.
Click here to read the full statement on the bill from America Bikes and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
Carolyn SzczepanskiCarolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.