As federal lawmakers this week take the first steps to reauthorize the nation’s highway programs, PeopleForBikes welcomes legislation that, if passed, would fund and modernize bike infrastructure, prioritize the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians, and recognize the environmental benefits of biking, said the group.
The support comes as senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee passed America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA) earlier this week. Authorized at $287 billion over five years, the ATIA represents a 27 percent proposed increase in funding for the Federal Aid Highway program, said PeopleForBikes.
“Bicycle infrastructure offers a 21st-century solution to many of the challenges our country faces — easing urban congestion, enhancing safety, protecting our environment, and modernizing transportation,” said Jenn Dice, PeopleForBikes’ chief operating officer. “After advocating aggressively in Congress on behalf of several of the key bike provisions included in this bill, we’re pleased to see these bipartisan solutions included at strong funding levels.”
The bill would increase funding for key infrastructure programs, including the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), while also providing for greater local control of how the program is administered, say proponents. If passed, the bill would increase the TAP by 40 percent in its first fiscal year (2021) and provide additional annual increases through 2025.
The bipartisan legislation includes the first-ever climate section in a highway bill and would invest $10 billion in projects aimed at reducing emissions. That provision would make projects for bicyclists eligible for funding under carbon emission reduction programs — for instance, the conversion of rail corridors for biking and walking trails.
In more good news, the bill would fund a necessary revenue study for the Recreation Trails Program (RTP), which in turn could justify significant funding increases annually for the RTP which builds trails, trailheads, singletrack and bike parks.
Meanwhile, the bill also includes safety incentive programs that would require areas with high rates of fatalities for non-motorized road users to focus investments on improvements to bicyclist and pedestrian safety — another provision for which PeopleForBikes lobbied.
PeopleForBikes and the bike industry will focus this August on connecting bike businesses with their members of Congress to convey the importance of the ATIA and other federal policy priorities. If you are interested in getting involved, contact Noa Banayan, federal affairs manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We look forward to continuing our work with allies in the Senate and House to ensure lawmakers pass meaningful and modernized reforms forbicycling and broader transportation networks,” said Dice.