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Blumenauer, Bike Caucus members urge bike/ped funding in new transportation bill

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).

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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.

-- Download a PDF of the letter (600K)

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Comments
  • K'Tesh May 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Sounds like a good start...

    Now, who do I contact to put in my +1 on this?

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  • I'd love to see a breakdown of that $54 million figure. Does it include, for instance, the $30 million Eastbank Esplanade? Or the $12 million cost to improve bicycle/pedestrian access to the bridges crossing the Willamette, including the Hawthorne?

    I don't mean to discount Earl's message -- I fully support a federal program dedicated solely to funding bicycle/pedestrian projects, and I would like to see that program be as fully-funded as possible. That's why I don't want to see other cities looking at Earl's $54 million figure and thinking they can get by with a cheapskate, low-ball investment in bike/ped in their area, without realizing what the full cost may be, and with the federal program based on what might turn out to be not a full accounting of all the costs related to bringing existing infrastructure up to speed with the new bike/ped friendliness.

    Making a city bike-friendly costs more than just the amount needed to stripe bike lanes, and I don't want to see all of the other projects (and their costs) short-changed in the final accounting...

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  • Joe Rowe June 1, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    It's a good start, the letter demands 4 things: a) re-fund safe-routes-to-schools b) no car projects that exclude other modes c) a transport R&D fund d) data collection

    Dang, now if we only had the money?

    Hmmm. I guess Earl could have done his constitutional duty to impeach and save us the $800 Billion spent on an illegal war used to kill 500,000 humans in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Heck, he could even write a letter to PDOT and Sam Adams telling them the federal 1.4 billion is never gonna show up for the 12 lane bridge.

    Hey Earl, I got a stamp for your next letter! I dare you to show some more courage.

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