National Transportation Bill

Thoughts on the transpo bill: Is Mica afraid of Republican party leadership?

Avatar by on February 2nd, 2012 at 11:41 am

National Bike Summit - Day two-56

Rep. John Mica at a bike industry
fundraising event in March 2009.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Since the House transportation bill has gone all crazy, I’ve been banging my head against my desk to figure out why Republican members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee are so afraid of including any mention of bicycling, transit (except to strip away dedicated funding for it), walking — or anything that doesn’t harken back to the 1950s Interstate Highway era — in the bill.

Then it occurred to me (with some help from sources on Capitol Hill, who say there’s a threatening letter going around from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that there better not be any mention of bicycling in the bill), perhaps they’re afraid of Republican party leadership? (Feel free to point out my political naivete if this is an obvious thing.)

[Read more…]

Amendment to save TE, Safe Routes fails by 2 votes

Avatar by on February 2nd, 2012 at 8:49 am

Clark County and SW Washington House Rep.
Jamie Herrera Beutler voted against an
amendment that would have set
aside funds for Safe Routes to School
and other projects to improve biking.
(Still from Committee video)

It was very close; but despite passionate defense of biking and walking by House T & I Committee member Peter DeFazio (D-Eugene), the Petri/Johnson amendment failed this morning by a vote of 29-27.

The amendment — which would have reinstated set-asides for Transportation Enhancements and the Safe Routes to School program — was debated this morning during the first markup hearing of the House transportation bill (a.k.a. the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act).[Read more…]

Blumenauer, DeFazio blast Republicans over transpo bill – UPDATED

Avatar by on February 1st, 2012 at 2:58 pm

OR Bike Summit - Saturday opening-2.jpg

He’s fired up.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio are pulling no punches when it comes to leveling criticism at the House transportation bill that was released yesterday.

Referring to it as the, “Republican Highway and Transportation Bill,” Blumenauer said in an official statement, “I am appalled at the fantasy finance scheme Republicans are proposing.” Blumenauer is a senior member of the House Budget and Ways and Means committees, so he focused his criticisms on financial issues instead of simply bashing the bill for being anti-bike.

Here’s more from Blumenauer’s official statement (emphasis mine):

[Read more…]

Amendment could help transpo bill, but it’s not a done deal yet – UPDATED

Avatar by on February 1st, 2012 at 11:16 am

U.S. House T & I hearing-7

Republican House member Jamie
Herrera Beutler, who represents
southwest Washington, sits on the
House T & I Committee and
bike advocates want her support
of an amendment to
the transportation bill.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s the morning after the House transportation bill was unveiled, and it’s being viewed as an abomination by national bike advocacy groups.

Horrible” is how the League of American Bicyclists feels about it, and former House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chair Jim Oberstar told Politico this morning that the bill has been “hijacked” by “fringe policymakers.”

Opponents of the bill are now counting on an amendment expected to be put forward by congressmen Tom Petri (WI) and Tim Johnson (IL) — both of whom are Republican members of the House T & I Committee. But the amendment needs two other Republicans on the committee to join them if it has any chance of being passed.[Read more…]

Mica was for Safe Routes program before he was against it

Avatar by on February 1st, 2012 at 10:28 am

Congressman John Mica (R-FL) at a Safe
Routes to School event in his district in
October 2010. A bill drafted by Mica would
end the program.
(Photo: Safe Routes Partnership)

The draft federal transportation bill that was unveiled yesterday by Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee John Mica (R-FL) would eliminate the national Safe Routes to School program.

Since it was enshrined in law by Congress in 2005, the Safe Routes program has funded hundreds of millions of dollars for crosswalk, bike parking, education, and much more to schools throughout the country.

Under the guise of “consolidation” and “streamlining,” Mica’s bill does away with the program entirely and strips mandates that require all state DOTs to have a dedicated staff person in charge of coordinating Safe Routes projects. It also, “Eliminates requirements for states to spend highway funding on non-highway activities.” Of course the bill also “permits states to fund those activities if they so choose,” however most national advocacy groups feel that, given the lack of a mandate, most states wouldn’t so choose.[Read more…]

Advocates gird for battle to save biking in federal transpo bill

Avatar by on January 31st, 2012 at 9:51 am

Cover of the bill (because
transportation is all about
big pipes and ugly freeway
overpasses right?!).

Once again, national advocacy groups are prepping the cannons for an all out assault on Congress as word spreads that the U.S. House of Representatives is will unveil a new surface transportation bill — dubbed the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act — today.

What do national advocacy groups and other advocates think about it?

“This Is Not a Drill: Highway Lobby Trying to Push Transpo Bill Thru Congress,” reads a headline from Streetsblog DC.
[Read more…]

League starts petition to stave off Senate sidepath stipulation

Avatar by on November 11th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

A tour of the West Side-12

A sidepath in Beaverton.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Mandatory sidepath laws — which state that bikes must use a sidepath/bikeway when one is available — are the bane of bicycling advocates. They’re seen as a clear sign of disrespect and inequality on our roads. The fact that Oregon still has one was called out by the League of American Bicyclists in 2008 as one of the main reasons for our disappointed fourth place bike-friendly state ranking.

Now the League is faced with the mother of all mandatory sidepath laws — the one that currently exists in MAP-21, the new transportation reauthorization bill that has already passed out of the Senate. As we pointed out earlier this week, the bill includes this unsavory passage:[Read more…]

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

Avatar by 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.”
[Read more…]

Another look at Portland’s list of federal priority transportation projects

Avatar by on September 13th, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Policymakers Ride-10

Portland wants $25 million for 100
miles of new bike boulevards.
(Photos © J. Maus)

After a press conference in Portland last week, the City of Portland and Mayor Adams put out a statement that included a list of “priority projects” they’d like to see funded in the upcoming rewrite of the transportation bill. I sort of glossed over the list in my story about that press conference, so I wanted to focus your attention on it again.

Below is the list of projects (full project descriptions here) followed by some clarifying comments about them by Mayor Adams’ Transportation Policy Director Catherine Ciarlo.[Read more…]

Oberstar releases full transportation bill: New federal office would study cyclists’ rights

Avatar by on June 22nd, 2009 at 1:24 pm

“Over reliance on automobiles can have adverse impacts on public health, both through lessened physical activity and from increased pollutants.”
— from the bill’s description of the Office of Livability

U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has released the full text of the federal transportation bill. Calling it the “Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009,” the 775-page document lays out every facet of how the United States manages its transportation system.

Last week we speculated what the bill might include and now we’ve got the real deal. I’ve been combing through it and looking for bike-related bits. So far, the most interesting section is the full description of the new Office of Livability.

If established as drafted in this bill, this new Office could be a very exciting step for biking in America.

The 20-page description of the Office of Livability begins by laying out the case against the status quo:

“Since the creation of the Interstate System, American surface transportation has been defined by the use of personal motor vehicles. The focus on automobiles has afforded Americans increased mobility and interconnectivity; yet has also lead to increased congestion, higher greenhouse gas emissions, and a reduced focus onother modes of surface transportation.”

[Read more…]