Federal transportation bill negates decades of progress
Three years since the expiration of the last federal transportation funding law, Congress has finally completed work on a new federal transportation bill that largely but not completely guts existing spending programs used by communities to make their neighborhoods safer for bicycling and walking. Now the fight for adequate funding shifts to the state level.
In recent weeks our allies in Washington, D.C., began hearing rumors that the long-anticipated compromise over the funding bill could be a disaster, despite promises over the past several years from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, chair of the committee overseeing the negotiations, to protect dedicated funding for bicycling and pedestrian programs and projects.
The compromise bill reduces overall funding by nearly half and forces bicycling, walking, Safe Routes to School, and recreational trails programs to compete with one another for money. Local agencies are given control over half the funding, while states now have the option to divert their share of funding to highway uses.
The biggest effects will be felt in states with the weakest dedication to bicycling and pedestrian programs. In California we’ll fight to ensure that communities continue to get at least as much funding as they currently receive, even as we continue to make the case for more and better funding for bicycling.