Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Urgent! If You Bike and Vote-Contact Your Senator Today

This year, less than 2% of Federal transportation funds ($700 million) will be spent on bicycling and walking. In 2012, that figure might be a big fat zero. In the next few days, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) will ask Congress to eliminate a vital bike/ped funding source. Please contact your Senators TODAY and let them know you support continued funding for biking and walking.

Of the federal transportation funding delivered to our five-county PA region, 1.4% comes through the Transportation Enhancement Program. The four nearby New Jersey counties receive 0.52% of their federal transportation dollars through the Transportation Enhancement Program. These percentages seem small, but they have been the primary funding source for bike lanes, trails, bike racks on buses, bike education, etc. Sen. Coburn wants to eliminate the Transportation Enhancement Program entirely from the bill that will extend the current transportation bill for four months. If he wins this week, Transportation Enhancements would be in serious trouble when Congress takes up a new Transportation Bill later this year.

This is lamentable, short-sighted policy. It isn't safe or smart. It isn't good for the economy or the environment. It is bad healthy policy and bad transportation policy. But it may happen because many Congressmen don't think bicycling matters.

This isn't even a deficit-cutting project. Congress won't save the money, they simply won't spend it on bicycling. There is no sensible rationale for the proposed cut. Bicycling projects create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects. In our region, 19% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists or pedestrians, a number likely to rise if this money disappears. Transportation Enhancement funding was instrumental in the creation of valuable trails like the Chester Valley Trail, the Perkiomen Trail, the Schuylkill River Trail on Schuylkill Banks, our Bicycle Ambassador program, and Doylestown's Bike and Hike Network. Yet members of Congress think it prudent to move us backwards to a 1950's, highway-only mindset, as if oil embargoes, increased congestion, the obesity epidemic, and climate change have not happened.

We expect the Senate to move first, so we are asking you to contact your Senator and urge them to support continued funding for biking and walking. Don't let Congress take away this vital investment program for smart, sustainable, safe transportation choices.