INVEST in America Act invests in the safety and accessibility of people biking
After two long days of discussion, disagreements, compromises and votes last week, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee approved the INVEST for America Act, a major hurdle in eventually sending the bill to the president’s desk. That in and of itself is quite the feat. If the House passes the bill this summer as expected, it will be the first time in this millennium the House has passed a reauthorization bill before the current transportation bill expires.
While we marvel at the process, the outcome is truly amazing: this bill is transformative – it’s the first bill to approach real reform in almost 30 years – and does so much more than simply reauthorize and repeat policies from the past. Within the systemic reforms in the INVEST in America Act are almost all the League’s priorities which means the INVEST in America Act is great for people who bike.
Bicycle Commuter Act included in House Infrastructure Bill
The INVEST in America Act is part of a larger infrastructure bill drafted in the House of Representatives, HR 2, which thanks to the advocacy of our members includes the Bicycle Commuter Act. The Bicycle Commuter Benefit was championed by the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Bike Caucus Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
The Bicycle Commuter Act recreates and improves on the bicycle commuter benefit which was suspended under the 2017 tax cuts.
|New BCA||Old BCA|
|Benefit||20% of parking benefit (~$60/month)||$20/month|
|Increases with inflation?||Yes||No|
|Bikeshare membership||Covered||Not covered|
|Able to combine with parking and/or transit benefit?||Yes||No|
|Employer must collect receipts?||No||Yes|
|Can be used towards purchas of e-bike?||Yes||No|
Over the last few days, the committee strengthened the bill even more by:
- Incorporating requirements for metropolitan areas with high bicycling and walking fatalities to fix those dangerous areas and giving them access to the resources to do it.
- Allowing communities to build back roads damaged or destroyed by natural disasters as Complete Streets.
- Allowing communities to use climate funding to remove underused highways to build public space including biking and walking facilities.
- Requiring all states to have a full time Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. Currently, every state needs to have a Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator but several states do not have this as a full time position. This will increase the capacity of states to build safe and accessible transportation for all modes.
- Strengthening the fix it first policy, requiring states to make sure their current roads meet a state of good repair before building new roads.
- Including a National Road Safety Assessment (led by Rep. Lynch D-MA) focusing on bicyclists and pedestrians. It requires the Federal Highway Administration’s district offices to identify and catalog roads and intersections that are unsafe for bicycling and walking. This will create an important tool for state and local governments–and for advocates–to identify priorities.
There were a few amendments that failed in committee which the League supported:
- Representative Cohen (D-TN) introduced an amendment to require a pilot project on requiring side underride guards on trucks. Underride guards help stop a vehicle or person from being pulled under a truck or bus. Unfortunately, that amendment didn’t pass. Still, the bill as it stands does require rear underride guards and does require the US DOT to study side underride guards. This is an overall improvement, but we would have liked to see Cohen’s amendment take it a step forward.
- Rep. Garcia (D-IL) introduced an amendment to replace the Level of Service (LoS) standard often used to judge how well our roads are performing. LoS judges roads by how many vehicles can get through quickly. Relying on LoS incentives states to build wide, fast roads instead of prioritizing safety or access.
And one amendment we wanted to fail did:
- Rep. Bost (R-IL) offered an amendment to disallow Transportation Alternatives projects from using eminent domain (with exceptions for Safe Routes and ADA.) Chairman DeFazio opposed the amendment on the basis that it was only applied to the Transportation Alternatives program and not to transit or highways.
Overall though this is a reform bill that, if passed, will move the country forward in building a safer, cleaner, more equitable transportation system that better meets the needs of everyone.
We will need your help to ensure this bill becomes a law. The next step for the bill is a vote on the floor of the House, where every representative has a chance to vote on it. We need to push for a big win – so that the bill has momentum going into the Conference Committee, where lawmakers will reconcile the differences between this bill and the Senate version of the bill. By giving the House bill a big win on the floor, we can help House negotiators get our shared priorities in the final product that will be voted on by both chambers. Watch for an action alert asking you to contact your Member of Congress very soon.
Caron joined the Summit Foundation for a 20 minute chat about the INVEST in America Act: