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Bike/Ped Wins $90M in November Elections

This blog is cross-posted from the Advocacy Advance blog, and is authored by Brighid O’Keane, the Advocacy and Programs Director at the Alliance for Biking & Walking.

This month, citizens went to the poll and voted on transportation ballot measures.  Seventy-three percent of transit measures passed, showing – yet again – that voters want to see their tax dollars spent on smart transportation investments. 

As described in Advocacy Advance’s recent report, “Success at the Ballot Box: Winning Bicycle-Pedestrian Ballot Measures” more and more bicycle and pedestrian advocates are pairing up with transit to achieve success at the ballot box. As states, regions and cities are looking for local sources of critical transportation dollars, this is a great funding opportunity for multi-modal projects.

Credit: Center for Transportation Excellence

How were biking and walking incorporated in 2013 transportation ballot measures? Here’s how, in 5 communities:

  • Tulsa, OK

Tulsa voters approved the $919M “Improve our Tulsa” capital improvement package, which will extend an existing 1.1% sales tax and a $355M bond. There’s a total of $23.4 million for “Bicycle/Pedestrian Infrastructure,” most of which is for ADA and sidewalks that will get built in areas where streets are being reconstructed. According to local advocates, the portion that has the most potential to make dramatic changes to our streets is the $4.2 million allocated to the implementation of projects from the forthcoming Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan. 

The Advocacy Advance team facilitated a Navigating MAP-21 Workshop in Tulsa in February, which included a campaign training for local advocates focused on directing dedicated funding from this package towards multi-modal projects. “This is a huge victory,” said Stephen Lassiter from Bike Walk Tulsa. “We can do a lot with $4.2 million. I think we could expect to see some significant changes to our streets in the next three years and beyond.”

  • Missoula, MT

The bicycle advocacy community was very involved in the “Friends of the Mountain Line” race in Missoula. The transit agency (Mountain Line) recently opened a new bike station at the system’s major transfer center and funds will support access to the station as well as racks on buses. Advocates involved a former Olympic cyclists to help with campaign outreach.

  • Mesa, AZ

The bond measure in Mesa, AZ included funding for “pedestrian improvements, multi-use path and trail improvements, and multi-modal transportation improvements” in its ballot language. The city is now authorized to issue and sell over $79M in General Obligation Bonds of the City for its package of transportation planning and improvements. 

  • Boulder, CO

Voters supported Measure 2B to fund transit, bicycle and pedestrian operations and maintenance through 2019. They also approved Measure 2D, which will start when 2B expires and last through 2039 to fund Boulder’s long-term commitment to a progressive transportation system. Additionally, voters supported Measures 2C to renew funding for open space. Together, these three measures total $67.2 million over 16 years for biking and walking improvements and maintenance in Boulder. The project list includes road diets, wider bike lanes and sidewalks, bike corrals, protected bike lanes and completion of our multi-use trail network.

Community Cycles received a Rapid Response Grant to support their advocacy efforts as the leader in a coalition that included environmental groups, open space supporters, former city council members and county commissioners and the BoulderChamber of Commerce. “The Advocacy Advance grant allowed (us) to focus attention on running this campaign and doing all the organizing required to win these ballot measures,” said Sue Prant, Advocacy Director at Community Cycles. “The major electoral victory we won is a tribute to our staff’s organizing abilities, and to Advocacy Advance’s very timely funding that allowed us to dedicate the resources we needed in order to win this major victory!”

  • Rome and Floyd Counties, GA

In April, TRED Rome/Floyd, a trails advocacy group in Georgia, attended a Winning Campaigns Training to flesh out a campaign plan to include a more robust trail network on the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) ballot. Over the summer, they partnered with the city and a citizens committee to include 3.3 extra miles of trails on the project list, at a pricetag of $1.8 million. With the help of a great citizens group advocating for the entire SPLOST projects, lots of community marketing, and tireless speaking, the SPLOST won in Rome and Floyd County by a mere 84 votes last Tuesday. Therefore, once built, trails will connect varying points in Rome and Floyd County.

Planning a ballot measure in 2014? Join the Center for Transportation Excellence’s Six Stops to Success webinar series and review the Advocacy Advance report for tips for success. CFTE and Advocacy Advance are pairing up on April 15 for the “Going Multimodal at the Ballot Box” webinar.

Read more from Advocacy Advance here.

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