States still slow to spend safety funds
With nearly 34,000 traffic fatalities in 2009 — 630 of them of bicyclists — there is a huge need to spend safety funds quickly and strategically. However, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released information showing that states have spent just 62 percent of the total available from the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), one of the most significant federal safety funding sources. In our Advocacy Advance report, we discuss how HSIP funds can be spent on bicycle and pedestrian safety projects and how the spending rate, or “obligation rate,” has been extremely low since the beginning of the program.
It is disappointing to see states are still not aggressively tapping into these funds. FHWA’s analysis also shows that 16 states chose to transfer or “flex” these safety funds out of HSIP for use on other projects that may or may not have had any safety benefit. Nearly $400 million, or 20 percent of the available HSIP money in those states, was transferred over to these “traditional” highway programs – perhaps a further indication that states take every opportunity to shift funds to those things they have always wanted to do (i.e. build more, bigger, faster highways) and away from the things Congress, local agencies and the public are asking them to do.