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US Mayors Want More Bicycle and Pedestrian Investments

America’s mayors want more control over federal transportation money. That is according to a survey released today by the United States Conference of Mayors. And what would they spend it on? Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure would be near the top of their list.

“As the federal government sets priorities for long-term spending and deficit reduction, future transportation infrastructure investments should focus spending on pressing metropolitan transportation infrastructure needs as opposed to low-priority highway expansion projects such as the infamous Bridge to Nowhere,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Bicycling and walking rank high among the biggest challenges identified by the mayors:

  • road/street maintenance (78%)
  • bicycle/pedestrian projects (60%)
  • public transit operating assistance (45%)
  • public transit capacity (40%), and
  • road/street expansion (36%)

Tanya Snyder, reporter for Streetsblog Capitol Hill, who attended the press conference, writes:

The mayors also made clear they wouldn’t favor a gas tax increase if transportation funds were allocated in the traditional way, but that 70 percent would support it if a share of the funding were allocated directly to local governments, and with more money going to bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

This will add fuel to the debate about the optimum level of decision-making for transportation spending and is further evidence that bicycle and pedestrian projects may fare better at the city level than the state or even the regional level.

In a discussion at the National Journal Transportation Experts BlogMortimer L. Downey, senior advisor at Parsons Brinckerhoff, which conducted the survey, says this about the countries mayors: “These are the men and women [in] big city, small city and suburban communities, who are closest to the voters and have broad responsibilities to achieve results.”

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