2015 Summit Lobby Day Results
Thanks to all of you who participated in lobby visits at the 2015 National Bike Summit. Your visits contributed to several victories for us on Capitol Hill. Here’s how:
Last year Summit attendees made three “asks” of your elected officials. Your visits — and your reports back — were critical to both defensive fights and to proactive wins in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) which was signed into law in December.
Here are the results of the 2015 Summit asks:
1. Will you support continued funding for bicycling and walking as part of a multi-modal transportation program? (House and Senate)
In June of 2015, there was an unexpected vote on the House floor to strip eligibility of biking and walking projects from transit funding. When this amendment was defeated it made a statement that we could win a vote on the House floor. Opponents to bike/ped tried again in November, 2015. That time three amendments were offered that would have stripped or limited eligibility and funding for biking in the FAST Act. These acts would have crippled Transportation Alternatives or Recreational Trails funding. However those amendments never made it to the floor.
Your feedback from the Summit visits helped us target Congressional offices — and that helped win the day. In the past we’ve been able to change the position of a Senator or Representative after a vote or a negative public comment. But we want to ask the question now to ensure members of Congress know they have a strong constituency that supports this funding before they vote.
2. Will you co-sponsor the Vision Zero Act? (HR 1274)
The Vision Zero bill would have created an incentive program for communities to promote traffic safety by passing a Vision Zero policy.
The final FAST Act includes a new program to fund education programs around bicycle and pedestrian safety, including Vision Zero state policies. This is a win for our efforts on Vision Zero. Although we did not get the full bill, this new program makes bicycling and walking safety a priority.
3. Will you co-sponsor the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act (TAPIA)? (Senate)
Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) joined forces again to build upon and improve the implementation of their amendment to MAP-21 (the transportation bill in 2012) that ensure greater local control over funding decisions and priorities for these program funds.
We had a partial win on this as well. Almost all of the TAPIA provisions were included in the Senate Transportation bill. In the House we met resistance because of a small but vocal group of members who wanted to eliminate the program. In the end, the TAP program was incorporated into another program, but the functioning of the program remains almost the same with some improvements: including a funding increase, non-profit eligibility and improved reporting requirements. The bill also includes language to expedite all projects, similar to the compromise language won in the Senate bill.
Now that we have a five-year Transportation Bill, what do we ask for now?
The FAST act created some major changes in federal funding available for education and behavioral change when it comes to safety. This year we’ll use the Summit to explain to Congressional offices how the changes will affect your state and ask for their help in promoting bicycling and pedestrian safety in your home state.
We’ll also be gathering co-sponsors for a bill related to tax reform that would allow individuals and families to use Health Savings Accounts to fund physical fitness expenses with pre-tax dollars.