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$1 billion to bicycle and pedestrians projects in FY 2010

For the second year in a row, federal spending on bicycle and pedestrian projects exceeded $1 billion.  According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Financial Management Information System (FMIS), U.S. states “obligated” – that’s FHWA’s way of saying spent – $1.04 billion of federal funds on bicycle and pedestrian projects in fiscal year 2010. As in FY 2009, just more than a third ($337 million) came from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds.

The $1 billion spent on biking and walking projects is a great and welcome step. It is being used to create miles of bicycling facilities, countless bike parking spaces, hundreds of safer routes to schools for children, recreational trails, and other needed projects. However, it is still a drop in the overall transportation-bucket. Bicycling and walking make up 12 percent of all trips and yet receive just two percent of all federal transportation funding. To put the billion dollars in perspective, the amount of federal money spent on bicycle and pedestrian projects, nation-wide, in FY 2010 is equal to the cost of just one bridge in the Port of Long Beach.

Both the ARRA and the non-ARRA obligations declined from the record spending levels of 2009. This is not entirely surprising because more of the recovery money was designed to be spent in FY 2009 than FY 2010, and the GAO reports that the race to spend recovery money may have led states to spend normal funds less quickly. Furthermore, agencies have historically slowed spending on non-motorized projects during extension years due to uncertainty over what future funding will look like. This means that during years when we’re waiting for a new transportation act to be written bicycling advocates need to push harder than ever to remain a priority.

Obligations 1992 to 2010

Data source: FHWA FMIS Database. Note: Coding errors are common, greatly undercounting actual spending rates.

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