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2014 Recap: Biking & Federal Policy
We're ending 2014 with a big win for bicycling: This month, Congress signaled its support for a national goal to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities -- an effort we've been championing for two years, and one that many of you spoke with your legislators about at the 2014 National Bike Summit.
It’s even more impressive when you consider that the current Congress is now considered the least productive in recent history.
Success in Washington is rarely immediate, as evidenced in this most recent development. It's best measured in small milestones, as well as in the big wins. With that in mind, there are a number of milestones that we hope to build on in the 114th Congress.
These wins give us a strong foundation on which to build next year — and couldn’t have happened without the support of bicycling advocates around the country, like you.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (pictured below) launches Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Initiative: This initiative has raised the priority of bicycle and pedestrian safety throughout the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) both at the federal level, and in the field offices.
A few benefits we’ve already seen:
- The FHWA is promoting road diets and data-driven safety through its Center for Accelerating Innovation.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation has updated its BIKESAFE website to help planners and engineers identify solutions to fix unsafe road conditions.
- Bicycle and pedestrian safety assessments are underway, with US DOT conducting one in EVERY state by July 2015.
In 2015, the League will:
- Continue to partner with US DOT on its initiative
- Advocate for a strong and effective performance measure
- Work with Congressional allies to promote more local decision making over safety funding
- Promote Vision Zero efforts through federal funding and legislation
TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES PROGRAM
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) transportation bill: While Congress never finished the transportation bill, the Senate EPW Committee finished the highway section, including some much needed improvements to the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), like...
- Including non-governmental organizations as eligible for funding
- Increasing the funding portion for metroplitan planning organizations (MPOs) and local governments
- Making it easier for small projects in the built environment to get through the permitting process
- Allowing states the option of funding Safe Routes to School projects at 100%
Unfortunately, this bill expires at the end of the year, so EPW will have to rewrite it, but it certainly sets the groundwork for continued progress.
In 2015, the League will advocate for:
- Maintaining these changes
- Including eligibility for small metropolitan planning organizations
- Increase local control and flexibility
- Restoring funding for TAP to 2011 levels
The big transportation issue in 2014 has been — and will be for the foreseeable future has been — how to fund transportation overall. Whenever this issue comes up, funding for bike/ped is on the chopping block.
This year we were able to fight back two amendments that would have stripped funding for TAP, and one would have made bicycle and pedestrians projects ineligible for funding overall. The House of Representatives passed a bill that included changes to the TIGER grant program, eliminating the eligibility of bicycle and pedestrian projects. However, those changes didn't stand — and instead TIGER will continue to promote multi-modal projects.
In 2014, TIGER grants continued to award significant funding to complete streets and multi-modal projects, including:
- $25 million for Vision Zero improvements in New York City
- $14.4 million to improve bike/ped access in low-income communities to the downtown, riverfront and transit in Waterbury, CT
- $5.1 million for Complete Streets projects in Dahlonega, GA
- $10 million for Tulsa, OK, to transform Riverside Drive into a Complete Street
- $1 million to improve bike/ped rail crossings in Sioux City, IA
- $12 million to do Complete Streets in Detroit, MI
In 2015, the League will:
- Educate new members on the benefits of federal funding for bike/ped projects
- Protect and advocate for funding for these projects
- Capitalize on opportunities for commuter benefits, and health–transportation links in other bills, such as tax reform
The House passed a bill to reauthorize Amtrak funding, which included a directive that it improve bicycle and pedestrian access to stations, including lighting and wayfinding help, as well as protected parking. The Senate has not taken the bill up yet, so we’ll have another shot in 2015. We’ve made some good inroads and hope to expand the win to better roll-on service, as well.
In 2015 the League will advocate for:
- Better station access and connections to stations for biking
- Expanded roll–on service in more areas of the country
- Encourage rails-with-trails where practical
CONGRESSIONAL BIKE CAUCUS
The Bike Caucus had one of its most active years, sponsoring briefings on the links between bicycling and health, the DOT initiative, and participating in the House fitness day and the Senate Sustainability Fair. The Caucus promoted bicycling through a bike maintanence day and National Bike Month, and took an active role in motivating the Architect of the Capitol to earn an Honorable Mention as a Bicycle Friendly Business and in making progress towards earning a BFB award in 2015.
In 2015, the League will work with the Bike Caucus to:
- Raise the profile of the Caucus
- Improve services and educational events for members
- Increase visibility on the benefits of biking in Congress
Again, this progress wouldn't be possible without YOUR voice. Join us at the 2015 National Bike Summit to learn more and continue the momentum on Capitol Hill.