Friday, November 22, 2013

A Dramatic Win for the Future of Biking and Walking in the Keystone State

As almost everyone now knows, there was high political drama this past week. The transportation funding bill that had been in the works for the past ten months failed twice on Monday, and then passed on the third try (104-95; click for roll call) on in the House Tuesday. It was a huge relief to see it get through the Senate on Wednesday (43-27), and again in the House for a concurrence vote on Thursday (113-85).  It is expected to be signed by the Governor next week.
Normally we don't traffic in Philly's most overexposed fictional native son,
but this time it feels appropriate.
Tremendous credit for this success goes to PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, who worked diligently for several years to make the case for the nearly $2.4 billion package, and fought hard to keep the issue front and center even after the House was unable to agree on a bill to vote on in June and rejected a bill twice on Monday night.

What will this bill do for biking and walking? A lot. As the Secretary told advocates Monday night, "This is the biggest step forward for the bicycle and pedestrian modes of transportation in the history of Pennsylvania." The bill:
  • Creates a multi-modal fund that grows from $30 to $144 million over a 5-year period, to which bicycle and pedestrian projects can apply for funding;
  • Sets an annual minimum of $2 million of that fund to be spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities;
  • Makes it easier to use state transportation money for pedestrian safety projects, streetscaping & lighting;
  • Explicitly states that Pennsylvania's comprehensive transportation system includes Pennsylvania's "numerous bicycle and pedestrian facilities," which will make it easier for bicycle/pedestrian projects to compete for highway funds.
A fiscal analysis of how the entire funding package will increase over the next five years is here.

The biking and walking community put its oar in the water to help secure this legislative success. With your help, we fought hard for biking and walking to be included in the bill and to receive a minimum-floor amount of the multi-modal fund. This success is a result of years of coalition work with the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition and the health groups that collaborated on Walk Ride PA

Thank you to everyone who responded to our six "calls to action" over the past several months and to our partner Pennsylvania and national organizations for using their own networks to get the message out. In total, 3,371 actions were taken through our action center on this issue. Harrisburg heard loud and clear that Pennsylvanians want safer roads for biking and walking and are willing to use their voice to call for state investments in enhancing transportation choices.

If you want to celebrate the bill's signing, there will be three bill signing events, one real and two symbolic, happening on Monday:

  • Live bill signing: State College, PA. Happening 9:30 AM at the VFW Post 9575 located along route 322, just west of the 322/144 intersection.
  • Montgomery County. 12:30 PM, NEW LOCATION: St. Teresa of Avila, 1260 S. Trooper Road, Norristown, PA 19403
  • Pittsburgh. Happening 4 PM by the Liberty Bridge.


FlipperPA said...

This is every kind of awesome. Great work on your part, especially!