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How is the League so effective? We work in coalitions.

Whether it’s on our bread and butter issues like funding for bike infrastructure, or on larger issues like automated vehicles, the League engages coalitions of likeminded organizations to get things done on behalf of people who bike. Here is how our coalitions on those two issues are making progress to protect and promote bicycling.

Transportation Alternatives

Roughly 50 percent of all federal investment in bicycling and walking comes from the Transportation Alternatives program, funded through a five-year transportation bill with the next one coming in 2020. Beginning last year, the League joined with the Safe Routes National Partnership to talk with advocates, practitioners, and other stakeholders to identify how the program could work better. Then we worked with Senate leaders so they could understand the active transportation community’s perspectives before introducing their first draft of the transportation bill. In the Senate version of the bill, which passed committee, we were successful in getting basically all of our changes! Next, we’ll continue the process with the House of Representatives.

While the Safe Routes National Partnership and the League led on the issue, we didn’t do it alone. We reached out to health, transportation, environmental, equity and other organizations that are deeply rooted in work around active transportation and livable communities and we asked for their help. These organizations care about bicycling and walking, but for them it is not their main area of expertise or their first priority. They look to the League and Safe Routes to keep them informed, and we ask each other for help when needed.

This week, as we shift to advocate for better biking and walking in the House of Representatives, we turn once again to these allies to help us. The League and Safe Routes, working with American Heart Association, will bring together more than 30 organizations from AARP to the Y to discuss actionable strategies to improve Transportation Alternatives and safety funding. 

Automated Vehicles

When it comes to writing a regulatory framework for automated cars, the League is not the expert. We know that we need these cars to be able to detect and safely respond to bicyclists and pedestrians; to identify bike lanes, crosswalks and other infrastructure; and to follow safe passing laws. However, when it comes to how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates requirements for technology, and how those vehicles should be regulated in terms of connectivity with other cars, accessibility for people with disabilities, and data sharing with local governments: we become supporting actors. 

On AVs, the League has brought together organizations with expertise in many of these areas to both help identify the best ways to promote safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as work together to identify some basic tenets for the development of a bill regulating automated vehicles. This coalition includes new allies such as Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumer Reports, and the Center for Auto Safety, as well as old friends such as Transportation for America, National League of Cities and the Disabilities Rights and Education Defense Funds.

Once formed, this coalition started working on the basic tenets we would like to see in a bill creating a regulatory framework for automated vehicles. Then this month, congressional committees in charge of writing laws regulating the testing and sale of automated cars reached out to stakeholders for input about our priorities. Together, this coalition worked on a proactive letter to Congress about these basic tenets, creating a united front on the basics including: requiring safety standards, access for people with disabilities, and protecting local governments’ ability to regulate safety in their streets. This letter was sent to Congress Friday signed by more than 47 national organizations from a variety of organizations.

Whether it is an issue on which we lead, or a larger issue with many stakeholders, the League has found that coalition work can be the most effective and holistic way to meet our goals.