Twenty years of experience has shown that bicycling and walking projects generally do better at lower levels of government. Cities and regions often value investments in bicycling and walking projects more clearly than states do. That’s why bicyclists strongly supported the bi-partisan Cardin-Cochran amendment to the Senate transportation bill. The amendment increased local control over a small portion of transportation spending – slightly less than half the TA funds – by requiring regional planning agencies, called Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO), to directly allocate funds to local projects, without being overruled by the state DOT. Although some of the details have changed, the basic principle has been retained in the final version of the law, known as MAP-21.
Local demand for bicycling and walking projects is overwhelming. Now we have a measure of local control to direct these funds, known in MAP-21 as Transportation Alternatives (TA). Half the TA funds will be distributed to MPOs and rural areas. The state allocates the other half – as long as they do not transfer it to other programs.
See AmericaBikes.org for more on Cardin-Cochran and MAP-21.
If this program works well over the next two years, it will send a powerful signal to Congress that we need to expanding biking and walking programs. If agencies drag their feet – it won’t look good.
To make sure we don’t go back on twenty years of progress, we need every state to immediately fully fund, staff, and implement the new Transportation Alternatives program and make full use of all of MAP-21’s programs.
The American Bikes Coalition has put together the following message for state DOTs:
We expect every state to fully fund, staff, and implement the new Transportation Alternatives program. Specifically, states should:
Fully fund: Do not transfer any funds away from Transportation Alternatives or opt-out of the Recreational Trails program
Fully staff: Preserve or increase staff support for Transportation Alternatives by maintaining state Safe Routes to School coordinators and bike/ped coordinators
Fully implement: Promptly award Transportation Alternatives grants with participation of relevant stakeholders
Fully maximize the state’s investments in safe, accessible streets: utilize all MAP-21 funding programs — including HSIP, CMAQ, and STP — to include biking and walking in all transportation projects
Fully spend remaining funds from the Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails programs
We need these programs to get started right away and work well. If that is successful, it will be promising for the future. If not, it will be an uphill ride. Every single state matters in this. This is a great opportunity for state and local advocates to make sure resources are directed to their communities. We will be providing resources to help with this in the coming weeks.
League Policy Director
Flusche joined the League in April 2009 and has a B.A. in history from Syracuse University and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from New York University.