Monday, August 01, 2005

Bicycle Racer/Urban Planner Wanted to Enforce SAFETEA-LU

John Lieswyn sounds off on one community's choice of automobiles over people.

I am continually amazed at the level of knowledge bicycle folk have about urban planning and land use issue. It makes sense; cyclists spend hour upon hour navigating streets that may or may not be hospitable to our preferred mode of transportation.

Look what was signed over the weekend! The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users.

I found the good news reported in BRAIN about the inclusion of bicycle related project funding in the Bill. Some highlights:

-$612 million for a National Safe Routes to Schools program (new)
-$350 million for recreational trails program, a $20 million per year
-$100 million to non-motorized transportation pilot programs four states
-hundreds of millions of dollars from Transportation Enhancements and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality

“In the last five or six years, about $400 million a year has been spent on bike projects, and almost all of that has been from TE and CMAQ,” [Bikes Belong Executive Director Tim] Blumenthal said. “Each of those will go up between $75 and $100 million a year a piece.”

There is another piece of good news tucked away in the bill, as I read on Earl Blumenauer, (D) Oregon, a bicycling as transportation proponent, managed to get $6.2 million earmarked for a pilot program to help transform short automobile trips to bike trips. The project must measure the energy savings of any programs and report to the Secretary of Transportation within two years. Yes, this is called pork, but is it good pork?

From another perspective, while the bill does provide funding for cycling related projects, spending on traditional road building and automobile-centric projects far outstrips that for cycling and public transportation.

The Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institute, a bastion of unbiased and non-partisan research, puts it this way in the newsletter I received today,
The federal transportation bill awaiting the president's signature represents not a triumph, but a tremendous lost opportunity. Instead of building upon previous reforms, the new $286 billion bill, two years in the making, maintains the status quo while, at the same time, dedicating $24 billion to over 6,000 congressional earmarks [pork!] and special projects.
I find the Brookings reports to be great reading and recommend a tour through the Federal Transportation Reform series. For cyclists and concerned citizens alike, there is much to learn about the challenges facing transportation policies that encourage pedestrian and cycling activity and development.

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