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$5 million dedicated to Bicycling in Delaware -- ready to match with federal funds
Bike Delaware has scored a major victory. On Friday, the Delaware General Assembly voted to dedicate $5 million in new funding for bicycling in Delaware. That’s “more money than the state has ever allocated before,” according to Bike Delaware’s announcement.
Bike Delaware launched their campaign to increase state funding for walking and bicycling this winter. “We recognized the desperate need for direct and strategic funding for bikeway infrastructure and we thought we had a chance of success,” Executive Director James Wilson said, “And we weren't afraid to fail.”
Bike Delaware worked with several groups, including Delaware Greenways, the Delaware Bicycle Council and, especially, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, to generate support for the new funding. The turning point came, Wilson said, when Senator Venables, a senior and influential state legislator, agreed to write and champion the legislation. Then Governor Jack Markell, a bicycling supporter who once spoke at the National Bike Summit, provided crucial support for the bill. “In other words, Bob Venables loaded the bases. And Jack Markell hit a grand slam,” Wilson wrote in an email to Bike Delaware members.
We are thrilled to see that Bike Delaware is now undertaking a campaign to ensure that the $5 million is used as a local match to leverage federal funds. Federal funds typically require a 20 percent match, which means the $5 million provided by the state could mean $25 million for bicycling in Delaware. We at the League and Alliance for Biking and Walking – the Advocacy Advance Team – are excited to support Wilson and Bike Delaware to make this happen. This is a prime example of a savvy state group working aggressively to increase bicycling and walking spending and leverage federal investments.