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Advocates prep for battle after release of draft U.S. transportation bill

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 8th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

BTA Alice Awards 2010-36
The BTA's Rob Sadowsky is
already working contacts in DC
to improve the bill.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released their long-awaited transportation reauthorization bill last week (known as MAP-21), sending alarms throughout national bike advocacy circles because it, according to Streetsblog DC "eviscerates successful and popular programs to make biking and walking safer."

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance immediately signaled they would gird for battle due to the bill's "very alarming setbacks."

Speaking of setbacks, the web is buzzing in anger with a provision that appears on page 226 of the draft bill (emphasis mine)...

"‘‘(d) BICYCLE SAFETY.—The Secretary of the appropriate Federal land management agency shall prohibit the use of bicycles on each federally owned road that has a 11 speed limit of 30 miles per hour or greater and an adjacent paved path for use by bicycles within 100 yards of the road."

League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke called that an "egregious provision" that they'll work to get stripped ASAP.

The bill would also no longer provide dedicated funding to key pots of money like Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and the Recreational Trails Program. To put that in perspective, In 2010, those three programs got a total of $1.146 billion dollars. (Note that all those programs would still be eligible for funding, they just wouldn't have a guaranteed source.)

Thankfully, Oregon's representatives in the Senate are reliably steadfast in their support of funding for bicycling and walking and the BTA is already saying that work has begun with Senator Jeff Merkley to draft some sort of amendment.

Stay tuned for more coverage. In the meantime, learn more about what's happening via Streetsblog, Transportation 4 America, and the League of American Bicyclists.

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  • Paul Manson November 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    That federally owned road rule is odd. Federally owned roads would be ones built and maintained by the feds, such as forest roads, tribal roads, national park roads and other federal lands. (There is a separate DOT for these, the Federal Lands Highway Division.) It would have pretty limited impact I'd imagine, but could be a problem in parks.

    Odd target to pick on.

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  • Lindsay November 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    While OR representatives are steadfast in their support for biking and walking, that's not always the situation in other states. Have friends/family in other states? Encourage them to write their reps, too!

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  • are November 8, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    merkley is on this committee. what was his participation in this markup?

    also, for what it is worth, the quoted language is within a section that deals with federal lands. it does not on its face apply to any "federally owned road" not on federal lands (if there is such a thing).
    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=20f89548-8b2e-4498-89f7-c9f4ff22484f

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  • Joe Rowe November 9, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Page 375 of the PDF. What is the "Council on Environmental Quality" ?

    Page 367 sounds an alarm. Sec. 1311 - Accelerated Decision Making in Environmental Reviews. Who determines what is "significant"?

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    • Paul Manson November 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      CEQ was created by NEPA, it is a White House office that sets NEPA policy. Its been around since the 70's.

      The streamlining initiative has been around for a decade but with problems reconciling with the realities of the regulations.

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  • Bob_M November 9, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I believe that Hwy 35 from Hood River to Hwy 26 is owned by WFLHD. This is a great bicycling road and one that has a speed limit greater than 30 MPH

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    • SilkySlim November 9, 2011 at 10:29 am

      Don't forget the "and an adjacent paved path for use by bicycles within 100 yards" part.

      I have no idea how many roads fit this description.

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      • Dave Thomson November 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm

        I am sure that National Parks are the only real target for this. Many touring cyclists have reported issues with road access in National Parks, up to and including park roads banning cyclists even without a parallel trail.

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  • Wallis November 11, 2011 at 8:38 am

    We are fortunate to have the BTA.

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