Bikes in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (formerly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework) is good for people who bike and walk. Is it perfect? No, but it is a great step forward that will build safer, more accessible communities — and while we celebrate the wins for bicycling and walking, we recognize more work lays ahead for the transportation advocacy community.
Thank you to everyone who responded to action alerts, reached out to their elected officials and lobbied at the National Bike Summit. You helped keep the pressure on Congress and when it came down to compromises and cuts, active transportation remained in the bill. Not only does the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIB) include the Senate’s transportation reauthorization bill, it also includes new funding.
League priorities: all of — or part of all — our priorities are in the bill
The bill increases Transportation Alternatives funding by 60% and makes several policy changes that will enable easier access to TA funding for local governments.
- The bill requires states with high fatality rates for vulnerable road users to invest in solutions at a rate commensurate with the danger faced by vulnerable road users.
- Additionally, every state must identify dangerous corridors and list potential solutions, allowing advocates to push for implementation.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation will need to update its crash records and reconcile them with hospital data. That will give advocates and lawmakers a fuller picture of the dangers of our roads.
Every state will have to create Complete Streets standards.
Safe Streets for All
The bill includes a $6 billion grant program to fix existing streets using Complete Streets standards, ensuring new streets are built for everyone.
- The bill updates the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to include a rating for the ability to avoid crashes with Vulnerable Roads Users.
- Rulemaking was included to require the adoption of new standards or technologies to reduce injuries to people biking and walking caused by hood and bumpers (like their large size.)
- New headlight standards will require incorporating new technologies that should help reduce fatalities in the dusk and dark.
Parts of the bill aren’t perfect
There are very limited funds allocated to this program. The Biden American Jobs Plan included $25 Billion to remove (or build over) highways that divide communities. That was cut to roughly $1 billion between funds already in the reauthorization bill and new funds added through this process.
Safe Streets for All
The program includes funds for enforcement without putting safeguards on that money. The League advocated for requiring policies prohibiting racial profiling to any new enforcement funds.
GHG Performance Measures
The Senate bill adds one, but it also allows rural states to be exempted from this and several other performance measures on climate.
While the bill takes an important step forward on vehicle safety, it is vague on due dates and doesn’t list what technologies are tested.
Prohibiting Racial Profiling Program
The BIB includes important updates to the program but doesn’t extend the program to collect data on law enforcement stops of people walking and biking.
And some things are just completely missing
Funding for Connecting America’s Active Transportation
The Senate EPW bill authorizes a program to build active transportation networks, but doesn’t put funding towards it. The INVEST in America Act both includes and funds the program.
No ‘Fix it Right’ Policy (or any limit on new capacity roads)
The Biden American Jobs Plan was written to ensure funding for roads would be used to repair and maintain roads and to make the roads work for all users before building new roads. This policy is missing in the bill. The House INVEST In America Act included a fix it first policy that would have required states to look for transportation other options, like transit, before increasing road capacity.
Accessibility Performance Measure
The House INVEST in America Act would require states to measure how well their transportation network connects people to destinations by various modes of transportation and set goals to improve accessibility.
What happens now
The Senate will vote on amendments and pass the bill. Once that happens the House will need to pass it. We’ll be waiting a while for that as the House is out of session for August.
The League is continuing to push for the best possible bicycling and walking policies and funding. That means supporting positive amendments, and pushing the House INVEST in America Act to be compromised with the Senate bill so that we can get a final bill with the best provisions from both chambers.
The Senate Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill isn’t transformative overall, but is an important step in the right direction. We knew from the beginning that any new policy changes would require bipartisan support, and the critical wins in this bill make it much better than current law for biking and walking.