Just in case you have not been getting an ample supply of economic news from other major media outlets, the League of American Bicyclists and America Bikes have released a report explaining why shifting funding within the transportation bill from “dedicated” to “eligible” for bike and pedestrian projects would be disastrous, not only for cyclists but also for the rest of the population.
As we collectively watched Congress push the debt deal to the last possible moments, and then witnessed the stock market plummet and the U.S. credit rating drop in the following days, it may seem a bit untimely to be fighting for money for bike/ped projects. However, holding on to funding for bicycle and pedestrian transportation initiatives such as Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School has never been more important, as these are government projects that will allow us to grow in a healthy, sustainable and economically responsible way. These projects are underfunded right now, and to allow states to pull funding will make an already unpleasant situation worse. The report explains:
Since 1991, states have spent just over 1% of their transportation funds on bicycling and walking – even though these two modes now account for 12% of all trips and 14% of all fatalities in traffic crashes. These critical transportation modes connect people to jobs, friends and family, goods and services; they provide healthy, clean, efficient, and sustainable ways for kids to get to and from school; and they are increasingly popular and economically vital forms of recreation. Recent studies show that in addition to providing these benefits, investing in bicycling and walking infrastructure is very cost‐ effective and creates more jobs than traditional highway‐only projects.
Since John Mica (R-FL) introduced his bicycle-unfriendly transportation bill proposal, the League has been urging the cycling community to get involved. To understand why dedicated funding for bike/pedestrian projects within the federal transportation budget is beneficial and important, read “Why ‘Eligibility’ Isn’t Enough” in its entirety.