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The Senate’s first draft of the Transportation Bill: What I’m Watching

On August 1, the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee will vote on their transportation reauthorization bill. While EPW doesn’t write the whole Senate transportation bill, they write the portion on highways and roads, the largest chunk of the transportation bill and the one that covers most of the issues we care about. 

Right now, the committee staff is busy negotiating among different senators’ staffs about what should be in the bill. That’s a big reason why we put so much emphasis throughout the year urging you tell your senators about bicycling issues you want them to champion. Thanks to your sustained action, we are optimistic about seeing some positive results from of our efforts in the forthcoming transportation bill. 

The Timeline


July 29

July 30

July 31

August 1

The EPW Committee is expected to release a public draft of their bill. 




Senators on the committee can offer amendments. We can suggest amendments and work with Senate offices to build support if there are changes we want to see. 


Look for an action alert from the League urging senators to support bicycling policy!





The big day! The Committee will debate and vote.


The League has been the leading voice for bicyclists on a number of issues, and we’ve partnered with likeminded advocates to make our messages stronger together. Here are the major asks we’ve making on the Hill that we will be hoping to see included by the Senate EPW committee: 

Transportation Alternatives (TA)

The TA program represents roughly 50% of all federal funds that go to bicycling and walking.  The League and Safe Routes Partnership have led a campaign for several changes that would improve the program and increase funding for biking and walking projects.  


Currently, bicycling and walking make up 12% of transportation trips and 18% of roadway fatalities, but states spend less than 1% of their highway safety funds on fixing deadly roads for people who are bicycling or walking. The League testified about this imbalanceand is asking for changes to the safety program that will push states to spend more of these funds on bicycling and walking safety.


The League is promoting a pilot program that would put better data in the hands of state and local planning agenciesso they can model how new transportation projects like a bike-pedestrian bridge could connect neighborhoods to more destinations. 

Federal Lands

The League supports a small set aside for the funding of bikeways, sidewalks and trails in national parks, wildlife preserves and other public lands. 


The League is advocating for a small trial program to help communities plan and train to use bikes in emergency relief after natural disasters. 

Smart City Grants

The League also supports a grant program for communities to invest in new technologies that reduce congestion and improve safety. The League worked with Senate offices and advocacy leads to ensure the bill includes bicycling interests like bike share, e-bikes, and better data collection, as well as ensuring that any funds used to promote automated driving systems ensures those adaptations do not negatively impact the access or safety of people bicycling and walking.   

In addition to the policies we’ve been championing, the League joins our partners in supporting policies that would make our roads safer for everyone:

Complete Streets

The League joins Transportation for America and The National Complete Streets Coalition in supporting a Complete Streets grant program that would fund local governments to build Complete Streets projects. 

Larger efforts to promote Storm Resiliency in Transportation planning and building

The League supports efforts to incentivize state and local governments to plan for changes in our climate, and to use that planning to make decisions around transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to build resilient infrastructure for evacuation and recovery. The League also supports efforts to allow communities using emergency relief funds to rebuild damaged infrastructed as updated Complete Streets, including active transportation infrastructure, even when the original road was not a complete street. (Current law discourages including improvements or changes when rebuilding damaged infrastructure). 

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality 

We will also be watching for changes to the CMAQ program that may help or hurt bicycling and walking. 

Why no automated vehicle legislation?

Those issues fall under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Committee, which we expect to come up this fall.  Stay tuned to learn more about the League’s work on these issues.