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Cycling and the Election Cycle of 2010

by Ted Johnson

Here’s a roundup of several articles on the 2010 midterm elections, and how the outcome may effect cycling advocacy, and transportation infrastructure.

Bike Lane

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News” takes an agnostic view, and speculates that Democrats, if relieved of their chairs, might actually become more effective advocates for cycling projects:

Cycling’s two biggest supporters-Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.)-appear headed for reelection despite the headwinds buffeting most Democratic incumbents this year…

But if the Republicans take control of the House, Oberstar would lose his powerful position as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee-the committee that oversees the multi-billion-dollar federal transportation bill that has channeled billions of dollars into bicycle projects.

The next Congress will have to determine the fate of the $450 billion, six-year federal transportation bill, which also funds cycling infrastructure projects. The bill has been stalled for more than a year.

Oberstar’s likely successor as chairman is Rep. John Mica, a Republican who represents a district in northwest Florida.

Mica would have to accommodate the views of many Republicans who oppose spending on so-called “transportation enhancements,” which are projects for pedestrians and cyclists.

The Bureau of National Affairs views it as likely that a Republican-controlled house would seek to reallocate money currently intended for cycling infrastructure projects:

Mica himself said –other revenue that’s been diverted” is one of the ways to reach a $500 billion price tag for the legislation… Current law requires states use at least 10 percent of their highway funds on –transportation enhancements” such as sidewalks, bike paths, roadside beautification projects, or transportation museums. That funding totals more than $4 billion annually.

Of that $4 billion, about one-fourth is used on cycling infrastructure. To put this into perspective, is this recent post from The League of American Cyclists:

It is being used to create miles of bicycling facilities, countless bike parking spaces, hundreds of safer routes to schools for children, recreational trails, and other needed projects. However, it is still a drop in the overall transportation-bucket. Bicycling and walking make up 12 percent of all trips and yet receive less than two percent of federal transportation funding. To put the billion dollars in perspective, the amount of federal money spent on bicycle and pedestrian projects, nation-wide, in FY 2010 is equal to the cost of just one bridge in the Port of Long Beach.

 
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4 Responses to “Cycling and the Election Cycle of 2010”

  1. Chas Ferris says:

    Ted,
    Wouldn’t it be sweet if cycling was a winner this time out! I hope so.

  2. gregario says:

    BNA’s “$4B annually” is just flat out Boehner-loving wrong. Transportation Enhancements (TE) are 10% of one particular funding category, not the whole Surface transpo budget. FY09 TE total was NOT $4B, but around $800M.
    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/te/appor_res_2009.htm

    The $1B compiled by LAB is made up funds from TE, and from other transpo funding sources like money for congestion reduction and air quality mitigation, highway money that states/localities choose to spend on ped/bike, and ARRA funds.

  3. Ted Johnson says:

    @gregario

    I forwarded your comment to Darren Flusche at League of American Bicyclists, and this was his quick response:

    TE gets 10% of STP funds. But only about half of TE goes toward bike/ped projects. In 2009, 292 billion of TE went to bike/ped as well as an additional $254 from ARRA stimulus funds. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped/bipedfund.htm

    He is correct that my numbers included all sources.

  4. LED Tape says:

    I know this post is old,
    But I hope the Pedestrian cycling is now a safer place for the youth of today and also for the new generations of kids.

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