Congress is considering three amendments to the transportation bill that would significantly reduce federal bike funding by cutting two critical programs, the Recreational Trails Program and the Transportation Alternatives Program. If they pass, these amendments will make it much more difficult for communities to build bike infrastructure. Please tell your representatives to oppose the amendments from Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).
Rep Carter’s amendments would make biking and walking projects ineligible for certain types of transportation funding and allow road and bridge projects access to funding currently designated for walking and biking improvements; Rep Yoho’s amendment would make the Recreational Trails Program ineligible for any transportation funding. In Pittsburgh and in many other places, park corridors and other ‘recreational trails’ are forced to stand in for actual transportation infrastructure, and the significant source of funding for bicycling and walking.
The League of American Bicyclists has their own, slightly different letter you can send; I went with the PfB one mostly because their email showed up first. I also recommend Caron Whitaker’s post for the Bike League for more on the Transportation Bill which is currently pending in Congress.
Dear Representative ________,
As a resident of your district, I am writing to ask you to oppose three amendments to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act—Rep. Carter #68, Rep. Carter #69 and Rep. Yoho #158. These amendments undermine the bipartisan agreement on federal funding for popular, cost-effective bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects that communities rely on throughout the country.
These projects are helping a growing number of communities nationwide to quickly and efficiently address daunting transportation challenges such as road congestion and the high costs of providing parking.
The federal investment in bicycling has already produced significant results. U.S. bicycle commuting has nearly doubled during the last 15 years. In 2014, nearly one in three Americans pedaled a bike–making a total of more than four billion rides.
Given that half the trips Americans make are four miles or less (a reasonable distance to bike if the route is safe and appealing), bicycling is likely to keep growing and keep producing tangible benefits. The federal government must continue to keep the door open to support modest community investments.
The benefits of this federal spending go far beyond transportation. Bicycling generates more than $81 billion annually for the U.S. economy, $10 billion in tax revenue, and supports more than 750,000 jobs. New bike infrastructure often increases nearby retail sales and spurs residential, commercial and retail development.
As you are likely aware, in Pittsburgh we recently had three people killed by drivers in less than a week, a woman waiting at a traffic signal while biking home from work and a wheelchair user and his partner who were crossing the street from one bus to another. Just outside Washington, a Maryland couple were killed by a drunk driver last week while on a bike ride together. It would be a tremendous slap in their faces to eliminate this funding–indeed, their deaths and those of the other thirty thousand people who will be killed by US drivers this year show just how critical it is that we increase dedicated funding for safe spaces to walk and bike across the country.
For these reasons and many others, I hope you will oppose these amendments (Carter #68, Carter #69 and Yoho #158). It is important for communities to have the opportunity to invest in bike infrastructure projects and reap the important economic and safety gains that follow.