House Transportation Bill Reverses Decades of Progress

If you are a member of any other bicycle organization, you may have received the call to action email below. This is a serious erosion of the traditional funding sources for bicycle projects. Wisconsin is lucky to have two members of the House Transportation Committee that originated this bill. On Monday, the Bike Fed sent targeted emails asking our members in Rep. Tom Petri‘s and Rep. Reid Ribble‘s districts to contact their congressmen and tell them to save funding for bicycling.

Rep. Petri is a ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee .  He is also one of the congressional architects of the current federal funding sources  for bicycling like the Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School programs.  These funding sources have been instrumental in making Wisconsin one of the best states in the country to ride a bike.

At issue here is whether or not bicycle trails and other infrastructure should be paid for at the federal level. The house bill eliminates the federal programs that have funded virtually every bicycle project in Wisconsin over the last 20 years because the bill’s authors believe bicycle and pedestrian projects are not federal issues and should be funded at the state or municipal level.

The problem with that philosophy for people who ride bicycles in Wisconsin is that our last state budget eliminated all state money spent on bicycle projects, and outside of Madison, I am unaware of any municipality that spends any local money to speak of on bicycling outside the required 20% local share to match those federal grants (that the house bill eliminates.  So, if the House Bill were to pass, the further development of one the country’s best networks in Wisconsin would come to a screeching halt.

 

The Bike Fed encourages you to stay tuned to this blog (subscribe via RSS to the upper right) for updates on this very important issue. If you live in either Rep. Ribble or Petri’s district, please contact their offices today.

Here is an example email alert you may have received in the last day or so:

Tomorrow, Thursday, February 2, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on our nation’s next multiyear surface transportation bill.

There’s no way to spin this: From the perspective of trails, walking and bicycling, the bill is a total disaster.

Among its worst features are:

  • It eliminates dedicated funding for the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program—the nation’s largest funding source for trails, walking and bicycling. (Terrible news, but we expected it.)
  • It removes the rail-trail category from TE eligibility.
  • It completely eliminates funding for the Safe Routes to School program.
  • It eliminates funding for bicycle and pedestrian coordinators at state DOTs.

But there’s still a chance…

Representatives Tom Petri (R-Wis.) and Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) are considering the introduction of an amendment in the committee that would right many of the bill’s wrongs.

But they need to hear from other committee members that their amendment has a fighting chance.

Please: Take two minutes and ask your representatives to defend trails, walking and bicycling. We only have until 4 p.m. EST today, so any additional support you’re able to gather will make an enormous difference!

Thank you,

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

 

About Kevin Hardman, Former Executive Director

Kevin is the former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Bike Fed. He lives in Wauwatosa with his wife and three daughters. Kevin is happiest on a bike, any type of bike!

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