Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 29th, 2009 at 12:50 pm
As the work intensifies on Capitol Hill to re-write America's next surface transportation bill, the lobbying is heating up to make sure it includes more money for biking and walking.
As the prime pusher of pedaling in Congress, Rep. Earl Blumenauer will play an important role in making sure those who are writing the bill understand the value of investing in non-motorized transportation. On that note, Blumenauer -- along with 38 members of the Congressional Bike Caucus -- sent a letter to the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure on May 22 to make the case.
The letter was sent to the leading Members on the T & I Committee, Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) and Rep. John Mica (R-FL).
In the opening of the letter, Blumenauer writes:
"Prioritizing biking and walking in our transportation system provides us with new and innovative ways to address a growing number of issues facing our nation."
Blumenauer then points out that despite the benefits biking and walking bring to our nation's health, economic, and climate crises -- and how they account for 10% of trips made by Americans -- the federal government currently invests only 2% of transportation funds into them.
In the letter, Blumenauer urged support for three specific priorities: Reauthorization of the Safe Routes to Schools program; inclusion of a Complete Streets policy; the creation of a new Active Transportation Investment Fund (that would be a new, and much larger, version of the Non-motorized Transportaion Pilot Program in the last T-bill); and to fund a new research and data collection program for all modes.
To illustrate the necessity of making concentrated financial investments in a select list of cities (the third priority above) Blumenauer holds up his hometown of Portland Oregon. Among the stats he cites is that since 1993 the City of Portland has spent $54 million on its famed bike network -- which is the same price to build just one mile of urban freeway.
In exchange for that modest investment, Blumenauer touts Portland's bike commute mode share (4-16% depending on what number you want to use) and our burgeoning bike-related economy.
Reading the letter, I noticed not only the reference to Portland (which signals how we are an important model for the rest of the country), but how the language around biking has matured over the years. The wording used by Blumenauer in this letter is a great example for advocates and anyone involved in the bike movement.
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